2011 Honda CR-Z
There’s been talk of a more powerful Honda CR-Z in the works ever since the hybrid ‘hot’ hatch was first launched. This was mostly because the car that was billed as the first sporty hybrid was neither sporty nor even that fuel efficient, with official performance specs coming in at only 122 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque and fuel economy of 35 mpg city/39 mpg highway.
Why Honda chose to launch the CR-Z with such lackluster performance may never be known but at least the automaker is aware of its folly and is now out to remedy it.
Over the past year we’ve seen a string of uprated CR-Z prototypes and concepts, most built by Honda’s official in-house tuner Mugen. However, few have been put into production and none offered in the U.S.
At one point there was even talk of Honda ditching the CR-Z’s IMA hybrid system and going with a sole turbocharged solution, but in a recent interview with Autocar Honda R&D chief Tomohiko Kawanabe confirmed that a high-performance CR-Z was coming, complete with its hybrid drivetrain.
2011 Honda CR-Z
“It’s true: we are working on a more powerful CR-Z,” he said. “Our problem with the car as it stands is that it looks very good, but it doesn’t have the performance some customers expect.”
While the hybrid component looks set to remain, there’s a chance that the car’s naturally aspirated 1.5-liter internal combustion engine may be swapped for a turbocharged mill.
The story doesn’t end there as Honda may even upgrade the car with its next-generation hybrid system set to debut in the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid early next year. This newer hybrid system gets more powerful lithium-ion batteries and possibly a decoupling feature that can separate the engine from the drivetrain during coasting.
The only issue, Kawanabe points out, is that this high-performance CR-Z must be more fuel efficient than the current model.
Also pictured above is a Mugen CR-Z concept car that debut at last year's SEMA.