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Honda CR-Z

The Honda CR-Z has made its world premiere at the Detroit Show; the good news is that it’s a hybrid sports coupe; the bad news is that the bold styling of the concept has been slightly toned down.

The compact 2+2 coupe comes with a 1.5 litre i-VTEC engine coupled to Honda’s IMA hybrid system and emissions are expected to be 117g/km with fuel economy of 56.4mpg.

More good news is that its hybrid system is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission rather than the normal CVT gearbox, which will be welcome relief for drivers who don’t like CVTs. In fact the CR-Z is the world’s first 6-speed manual hybrid car.

The compact size of the CR-Z, reminiscent of the Honda CRX, together with its short wheelbase and wide track, promises agile and responsive handling, but we’ll have to wait until we drive it to verify that.

The 1.5-litre engine, combined with the additional 78Nm of torque provided by the 14PS electric motor, situated between the engine and transmission, gives an overall power output of 124PS and 174Nm of torque. The peak torque figure is identical to that of the 1.8-litre Civic but offers CO2 emissions of just 117g/km, ie. 35g/km less than the Civic 1.8-litre model.

The electric motor gives the CR-Z a flat torque curve, with maximum torque arriving at just 1500rpm, which is unusually low for a naturally-aspirated engine.

The CR-Z has been fitted with a 3-Mode Drive System. This allows the driver to choose between three driving modes, which alter the responses of the throttle, steering, idle stop timing, climate control and the level of assistance provided by the IMA system.

This is designed to allow the driver to choose whether they wish to maximise enjoyment, economy or have a compromise between the two.

The UK specification CR-Z has a 2+2 layout, allowing children to be squeezed in the back. The rear seats can be flattened to increase luggage capacity when it’s needed.

The European version of the CR-Z goes on sale in the UK in summer 2010, and will debut at the Geneva Auto Show 2010 in March. We hope that UK buyers will be able to specify more sporty-looking wheels at least.