2013 Honda CR-Z Hybrid Updates: Paris Auto Show Preview

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2013 Honda CR-Z (European spec)

2013 Honda CR-Z (European spec)

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Today seems to be the day when Paris Motor Show previews are coming thick and fast.

Honda announced today that it will show an updated 2013 CR-Z two-seat hybrid hatchback at the Paris event, where media announcements kick off two weeks from yesterday.

The 2013 Honda CR-Z has mildly refreshed styling, with a reshaped front fascia and a row of LED running lights at the bottom of each headlight unit.

Honda says the 2013 CR-Z will also have a more powerful 1.5-liter engine and a higher-output electric motor, though Honda won't release the final output numbers until the Motor Show itself.

The current car's 1.5-liter four-cylinder produces 111 horsepower, and its electric motor is rated at a peak power of 10 kilowatts (13 hp), for a total maximum powertrain output of 122 hp.

The CR-Z may thus be receiving a new, updated generation of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) mild hybrid system.

Unlike such full hybrids as the Toyota Prius, mild hybrids do not offer the ability to move the car away from a stop under electric power alone.

Instead, the electric motor restarts the engine after a stop, contributes additional torque to the output of the engine, and recharges the battery pack on engine overrun and under regenerative braking.

While Honda has now previewed its new, two-motor full hybrid system for larger cars--see our 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid drive report--the updates to the CR-Z indicate that it plans to stick with the smaller mild-hybrid system as well, continuing to refine it.

The CR-Z was intended to echo the popular and successful CRX two-seat hatchbacks sold in the Eighties and Nineties, but at more than 700 pounds heavier, it was criticized as neither particularly sporty--despite an available six-speed manual transmission--nor all that economical.

The EPA rates this year's CR-Z at 34 mpg combined with the manual, or 37 mpg combined with the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT).

2012 Honda CR-Z 3dr CVT EX w/Navi Steering Wheel

2012 Honda CR-Z 3dr CVT EX w/Navi Steering Wheel

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From late 1999 through last December, Honda has sold 800,000 mild hybrid vehicles. Toyota, by contrast, has sold more than 3 million since 1997.

The company's preview announcement made no mention of a non-hybrid CR-Z variant, which has been widely rumored over the two years since the CR-Z was launched as a 2011 model.

The CR-Z updates come two years after the model's launch, just as Honda updated its 2012 Insight hybrid five-door hatchback at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show, two years after that car's introduction as a 2010 model.

If the 2013 Honda CR-Z follows that pattern, its EPA-rated mileage may go up slightly--though with a power increase, perhaps the mileage will stay the same, but with better performance.

Either way, we'll bring you more details of the 2013 CR-Z when it's officially launched at the Paris Motor Show.

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