With the 2011 CR-Z, Honda is aiming to inject some real handling and sportiness into the hybrid marketplace--an element it's definitely lacking. In this video the CR-Z's chief chassis dynamics engineer, Terukazu Torikai, talks about how Honda developed the car's handling and performance.

Using benchmarks like the Lotus Elise, MINI Cooper and Volkswagen Scirocco, Honda didn't just aim to beat out the likes of the Toyota Prius and Malibu Hybrid with the 2011 CR-Z. It made a serious effort to deliver a car that just handles well, regardless of powertrain.

While we'll have to wait for our own stint behind the wheel to be the judge of their success, working from competitive cars like those listed and with design elements like chassis stiffness on par with the Japan- and Euro-market Civic Type R, there's reason to be hopeful. Still, as we noted in our official plea for Honda to start a CR-Z Hybrid Racing League, there are countervailing factors, like weight and power, to consider.

Fun isn't all about the number of ponies under the hood, however. The Elise musters less than 140 horsepower in some guises, though it weighs in under 2,000 pounds as well. The MINI Cooper's roughly 2,600-pound curb weight checks in closer to the 2011 CR-Z's 2,700-pound figure, though, and the MINI's 118-horsepower output is also about even with the CR-Z's 122-horsepower hybrid drivetrain. While that's not the end of the matter, it is food for thought, as is the video below.