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Tokyo show teases drivers with Honda CRZ and others

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Tokyo show teases drivers with hot new cars

OK, so the Japanese threw a party and many of the guests didn't show up. That doesn't mean there weren't some tasty morsels served up at the Tokyo Motor Show.

But Japanese automakers showed off some new autos that are worth noting, including some hybrids, plug-in technology and a sports car with an outsized price tag.

The Honda CR-Z, a two-seat sport coupe modeled after the company’s much-loved CRX hatchback of the 1980s, is probably the most appealing. In its new iteration the little coupe carries a green shield to fend off charges of social irresponsibility.

It has a hybrid drivetrain featuring a 117-horsepower, 1.5-liter gasoline engine and a 13-horsepower electric motor if the company employs the off-the-shelf hardware already serving in the Fit and Insight models.

The real reason to hope the CR-Z will be fun to drive while it wrings the maximum miles from each gallon of gas is the torque of the combined drivetrains. The electric motor contributes a significant 123 pound-feet of torque to the gas motor’s comparatively paltry 106 pound-feet maximum.

We cannot add these numbers together to learn the system’s peak torque because the gas and electric motors develop their power at different RPM, but we do get a picture of how the electric motor’s torque will fortify the peaky gas motor, which makes its torque at 4,800 RPM.

These two engines power the CR-Z through a hybrid industry-first, six-speed manual transmission, ensuring that gearheads can still get their kicks piloting the CR-Z rather than enduring the anesthetized feeling of the continuously variable automatic transmission used in most hybrids. Honda’s original two-seat Insight hybrid also offered a (five-speed) manual transmission, one which made it easy to unintentionally chirp the tires pulling away from a stop because of the electric motor’s low-RPM torque.

“The vehicle will create completely new value by combining the fun of driving and outstanding fuel economy,” promised Honda president and CEO Takanobu Ito. Though the company disingenuously labeled the apparently production-ready CR-Z a concept car, it will hit Japanese showrooms in February and will arrive in the United States and Europe at some unspecified later point, Ito said.

Full article at MSNBC
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