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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Comments (4)
  1. It has taken me a long time to make up my mind on this one, but I have decided I really like the looks of the new CR-Z. Hopefully Honda can get some better reviews with a few tweaks to the design. After call, 35 mpg in the city is not too shabby, particularly if people like the car rather than settle for it.

  2. I agree John. I think the CR-Z is good looking car n for 2013, it will look only better. However there are three primary problems that have led to it being a sales dud thus far:

    1) It's mpg is much worse then other hybrids especially considering its smaller footprint and lighter chasis. Prius beats the CR-Z by a combined 13mpg even though it has four doors n is 600lbs heavier.

    2) It doesn't handle or perform sporty as it looks or as its ICE competitors actually do.

    3) 5 star crash test scores are not good. 4 stars for front n only 3 for side impact. That is for the 2013 model too. The US driving public expect and demand much better from Honda. Other Honda vehicles do much better.

    1 n 2 may be improved a little, 3 makes it a bust

  3. It might actually have an engine that’s not just a regular OTTO cycle like the first generation of CRZs. Honda’s “Earth Dreams” engines. Atkinson valve behavior when throttle is low, OTTO when you want power. Direct Injection. The Civics will get this type of engine as well.
    So with a partial Atkinson cycle engine the CRZ may finally get closer to Prius like MPG.

  4. I like the looks of this car. But it either needs to get 45-50 MPG as is. Or 35-40 MPG with a 160 HP engine. It also would help sales if they actually made it a little larger, maybe just an 1" here and there. The legroom is too tight for 6 footers, I am 6' 4" and a simple 1 inch more legroom and height increase would make a world of difference. I actually like the storage idea instead of a back seat as I have no kids. But the rearview window area needs to redesigned so people can actually see behind them. If they made these changes I would buy over other hot hatches any day due to the real world MPG savings, good looks, drivability and Honda reliability. So close yet so far away.

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