Honda CR-Z concept goes back to two-seater roots
The upcoming Tokyo auto show may have a major dearth of non-Japanese auto makers, after all the North American, Korean and European auto manufacturers (outside of Lotus) pulled out of the show, but Honda is still looking to make a major international splash with the premiere of the two-seater CR-Z hybrid coming to Canada for 2010.
Honda released photos last week of the Honda CR-Z Concept 2009, which appears to be a production ready version of the CR-Z hybrid sports car concept that Honda Canada confirmed last week will be available here next year. Although Honda is not revealing many technical details about the car until closer to the show's opening on Oct. 24, it's expected to offer a similar 1.5-litre Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) engine as the Honda Insight hybrid, but with less weight and more performance thanks to two seats, and an enthusiast-friendly six-speed manual transmission.
That two-seat, low weight emphasis was prevalent on the first generation Honda Insight that debuted in 2000 in North America. But that same lighter-is-better formula was also what made the Honda CRX so much fun to drive, as a shortened, stiffened and lightened version of the Civic in the 1980s and 90s. And just like the old CRX hatchback, the new CR-Z concept offers a black but see-through rear hatch to aid in rear visibility.
Honda has also confirmed that it will sell hybrid versions of the Fit and next generation Honda Civic in Europe and Japan as part of a new emphasis on small hybrid vehicles, but hasn't confirmed when those vehicles are coming to North America. With the current generation Honda Civic entering its fifth year this fall, it's a safe bet that a new gasoline version will appear soon, to be in dealerships by this time next year.
Manufacturing teams from the Alliston, Ont., Honda plant that build all Civics sold in Canada - except the Hybrid - are in Japan now working on it, factory officials confirmed last week. Sales of the Civic Hybrid would have to be sold in much higher numbers to be able to justify bringing its production to North America as well, said Honda Canada Manufacturing's Jon Minto.
Another interesting Tokyo debut for Honda with production possibility is the Skydeck concept minivan, although as a "design study," it's easily at least a few more auto shows away than the CR-Z. The Skydeck is a six-seater minivan that has scissor-like front doors, two sliding rear doors and no B pillar to hamper entry into the second row. It also features Honda's IMA hybrid system, a clear roof and green translucent wheels for that extra spacey look. On the other hand, the Honda Odyssey has been on the market a long time now...
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