In love with Honda’s new CR-Z? Then we have a treat for you. Honda Europe has just released a mega-gallery of CR-Z photos, showing the new hybrid sports coupe from so many angles we forget what the CRX looks like.
There’s not much new to report about the car, other than the fact that like in Japan, the Euro-spec CR-Z will get a 2+2 arrangement, rather than just being a two-seater like in North America.
The CR-Z is powered by a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor to make 122-hp at 6000 rpm and 128 ft-lbs of torque at 1000 to 1500 rm when mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission or 122-hp and 123 ft-lbs of torque with a CVT automatic (which features paddle shifters by the way). As for fuel-economy, it’s rated at 36-mpg city and 38-mpg highway. (U.S. EPA).
The CR-Z comes with a three-mode driving system, with buttons on the steering wheel to choose Sport, Normal and Economy driving. Sport mode delivers a more responsive throttle, with tighter steering and the tachometer lights up bright red when in Sport model. Econ mode delivers optimum fuel efficiency with reduced pedal feel. The air conditioning system will also reduce its lag on the engine in Econ mode. Normal mode delivers standard settings, and in both Normal and Econ mode, the tachometer display will light up blue or green depending on how the vehicle is driven – with a green display representing the most fuel-efficient driving. Like the Insight, the CR-Z offers and Eco Guide to help driver’s keep track of fuel economy.
Of note, at the end of a VERY lengthy press release (see below), Honda reiterates its commitment to building a hybrid Jazz (Fit).
GALLERY: Honda CR-Z Euro Spec
Official release after the jump:
THE HONDA CR-Z SPORTY HYBRID COUPE
The Honda CR-Z is a unique new car, combining the advantages of a clean, efficient petrol electric hybrid powertrain with a 6-speed manual transmission and a stylish coupe body.
This exciting new coupe will change current perceptions of hybrids, with its driver-focussed, chassis and responsive 1.5-litre engine. * All-new, sporty, aerodynamic, 2+2 coupe form * Wide track, short wheelbase chassis for agile and responsive handling * Unique 3-Mode Drive System to tailor steering, throttle response and IMA assistance to the driver’s needs * 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine coupled to the Honda IMA parallel hybrid system with CO2 emissions of 117 g/km and 5.0 l/100km fuel economy in combined mode * World’s first 6-speed manual transmission combined with a hybrid drive train * Driver focussed cockpit design with 3D gauges * European market cars to be equipped with flexible 2+2 seating arrangement
The CR-Z’s exterior styling is formed around a “one-motion wedge” concept with a low bonnet line and wide stance giving the car a confident, athletic look. Signature Honda design features, such as the split level rear glass hatch and aerodynamic, shallow raked roofline have been referenced in the design of the sleek coupe and then combined with a curvaceous and deeply sculpted exterior form.
The overall power output of the engine and IMA system is 124 PS and a healthy 174 Nm of torque. The peak torque figure is identical to that of the 1.8-litre Civic and arrives at just 1500 rpm, a level where previously only turbocharged engines deliver their maximum. Even with torque levels directly comparable with a Civic, the CR-Z emits 35 g/km** less CO2 than its conventionally powered cousin. Other harmful exhaust emissions are also very low and the Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack can be recycled through Honda dealers, at the end of the vehicle’s life.
For the first time, a fuel efficient, low emission parallel hybrid system is combined with an ultra precise 6-speed manual gearbox. The manual gearbox is a core part of the driver engagement Honda’s engineers wanted to bring to the CR-Z model. The flexibility of Honda’s unique IMA parallel hybrid system allows it to be used with a range of transmissions, not just CVT-based gearboxes.
The manual transmission is complemented by a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder i-VTEC engine, which is new to Europe and is a key component in the CR-Z’s unique character. This powerful, yet efficient engine is based on the engine fitted to some non-European versions of the Jazz. The eager to rev nature of the medium capacity engine, is enhanced by the additional 78 Nm of torque provided by the 14 PS electric motor, which is situated between the engine and clutch. The electric motor boosts torque at low and medium revs, which gives the CR-Z in-gear flexibility more usually associated with turbocharged engines.
To maximise driver choice and enhance the day to day driveability of the car, the CR-Z is fitted with a 3-Mode Drive System. This unique feature allows the driver to choose between three driving modes, which alter the responses of the throttle, steering, climate control and the level of assistance provided by the IMA system. In developing this new facility, Honda allows the driver to adapt the car’s settings to enjoy their favourite road, maximise economy, or strike a balance between the two.
Sport buttons have become commonplace, usually offering a sharper throttle response, but Honda’s 3-Mode Drive System is different. The new system alters the behaviour of the hybrid drivetrain and the power steering assistance as well as the throttle mapping between the three modes.
When the CR-Z driver is away from the town or city and wanting to enjoy the open road, they can put the car into SPORT mode. This sharpens the throttle response, changes the behaviour of the IMA hybrid system to provide more electric motor assistance and increases the weight of the electric power steering.
Honda recognises that even the most enthusiastic driver may regularly experience heavy traffic, where maximising fuel economy is more desirable than the perfect line through a corner. In these situations ECON mode can be selected, which prioritises fuel economy in the operation of the drive-by-wire throttle, ECU, air conditioning and the hybrid system. For those times when spirited driving is not possible or desirable, the Eco Assist function, in conjunction with the ECON mode, allows the driver to enjoy beating their best economy score on the way to work, or in heavy traffic.
At all times the car can be run in NORMAL mode, which provides a balance between performance, economy and emissions and suits most driving situations. The ambient lighting of the speedometer is used in the same way as in the Insight to guide the driver in driving more economically and ecologically. In addition to the Eco Assist function, the CR-Z’s meter lighting is linked to the 3-mode drive system. In NORMAL mode and ECON mode the speedometer is illuminated blue, glowing green when driven economically. In ECON mode it has a green eco flower lit in the mode indicator. When the speedometer is illuminated in a red ambient light, this indicates the CR-Z is in SPORT mode.
Careful consideration was given to exhaust design to ensure that as well as being efficient, the CR-Z is a car that encourages the enthusiastic driver and sounds quite unlike any previous compact hybrid. Other components including engine mounts and sound deadening were tuned to ensure that the sporting elements of the exhaust were heard by the driver, but less desirable noises often associated with sports exhausts were attenuated. The exterior design of CR-Z deliberately evokes the iconic style of the 1980s CR-X, which was originally developed to provide a small, stylish car that could achieve spectacular economy. Signature features of the CR-X, like the split level rear glass hatch and low shallow raked roofline have been referenced in the design of the sleek coupe and then combined with a curvaceous and deeply sculpted exterior form.
The shallow raked roofline and sharply truncated tail of the CR-Z is a feature shared with many Hondas past and present, including the CR-X, 1999 Insight and the FCX Clarity. All of these cars have been designed to cut through the air with minimal disturbance, reducing drag to lower fuel consumption and emissions. The CR-Zs headlights are accented with LED day time running lights, which are positioned in the lower section of the front lights. This is the first time LED running lights have been applied to the front of any production Honda car and help to emphasise the wide sporting stance of the new hybrid coupe.
The interior of the production car has been influenced by the cabin of the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show CR-Z Concept, especially the 3D speedometer and driver focussed cabin. The high-technology instrument binnacle places all of the commonly used controls close to the driver’s hands, allowing full concentration on driving at all times.
The dashboard of the new coupe has a complex and interesting form, with a dark upper portion appearing to float above a light grey lower dash section, which is continued into the centre of the inner door panels.
Equipment levels on the CR-Z are generous with all grades benefitting from six airbags, active headrests, Vehicle Stability Assist and Hill Start Assist. All CR-Zs will also come fitted with Climate Control, 6-speaker CD player, USB iPod® link and an engine start button. Middle and top grades benefit from leather seats, steering wheel audio controls and alloy pedals. Top grades gain Bluetooth® Hands Free Telephone controls, Cruise Control, Panoramic Glass Roof, HID lights and 360W high power audio system – including a boot mounted sub-woofer.
The stylish interior has a 2+2 layout, opening up the possibility of carrying smaller adults for short distances or children on longer journeys. The one-touch motion folding rear seats open up a flat floored cargo area, that gives a surprising 382 litres of cargo space, on a par with most C-segment hatchbacks, allowing a wider range of luggage to be carried. The flexible luggage area also has an under-boot area of 19 litres to stow additional cargo, or store items out of sight.
The chassis was an important factor in the development of the new car, with driver enjoyment being a core part of the design brief. The platform shares some components with the Jazz and Insight models, but the wheelbase, track width and set-up are all unique to the new hybrid. Overall the CR-Z has a 115 mm shorter wheelbase and is 310 mm shorter in overall length than the Insight, enhancing agility and reducing kerb weight by 57 kg compared to its 5-door, five-seat, family car cousin.
The CR-Z suspension features unique, springs and dampers setting and the tolerances are also unique. One of the major detail changes is the adoption of a forged aluminium lower arm in the MacPherson strut front suspension to replace the Insight’s pressed steel items. This reduces weight of each wishbone by 2 kg and also increases strength to cope with the wider track width and tyres.
EXTERIOR DESIGN AND BODY
The CR-Z was created from a project to create a sporty coupe for the second decade of the 21st century. The compact dimensions, light weight construction and aerodynamic design brings a dual benefit of improving performance, but also cutting fuel consumption and emissions.
The design has hints of Honda’s past with the split level window and shallow sloping roof, combining them with complex curves and deeply scalloped panels that would have been impossible to mass produce just a few years ago.
Modern car design has many constraints placed upon it, with the increasing number of regulations and policies which influence the shape of new models. The major challenge that faced Honda’s designers and engineers was to maintain the sleek low bonnet design of the initial design studies, while adopting the 1.5-litre engine with IMA system and complying with pedestrian impact requirements. Honda’s engineers worked tirelessly with the designers to reduce the height of the engine, as well as working on suspension and body hard points to allow for sufficient clearance for bonnet deformation.
The wide and low stance is enhanced at the front end by the unusual one piece grille, which extends above and below the front bumper line. This grille is a key feature of the car’s “face”, with a pronounced raised area of the bonnet flowing from its top line right up to the base of the windscreen. The wide tapering headlights, with day time running lights elegantly integrated into the lower edges, extend towards the edges of the strongly flared wheels arches.
The angle of curvature at the edge of the windscreen of the CR-Z is the greatest of any current Honda model, and it blends almost seamlessly into the A-pillars and side windows. This wraparound effect is only possible because of the revolutionary rain gutters integrated into the front pillars that significantly reduce the usual step between the edge of the windscreen and the A-pillar by 50%. As well as creating a distinctive visual effect, the reduction in this step has clear aerodynamic benefits, reducing turbulence in this important area. The integrated look is accentuated by the gloss black surface finish applied to the A-pillars, creating the illusion of a single piece of glass.
The wraparound screen positions the A-pillars further back in the side profile, giving the bonnet a longer and lower appearance. By curving the glass around the sides of the car, Honda’s engineers were able to achieve excellent forward visibility, a key factor in safety and enthusiastic driving.
Aerodynamics The door mirrors are an ultra aerodynamic, shape, supported by a wing form stay, which combine visual appeal, with low drag design. Extensive aerodynamic testing led the design team to the final shape, which integrates a slim indicator repeater to complete the look. The roof slope and length is critical to the overall aerodynamic performance of a vehicle and the stylists and engineers worked together to create the longest roof length possible without upsetting the overall visual balance of the car.
The rear of the CR-Z has a particularly important role to play in the aerodynamics and many hours of wind tunnel testing went into refining the final design. The strongly flared rear arches stand proud of the rear bodywork and the rear tapers into the split level glass hatch, a concept shared with the second generation CR-X, 1999 Insight and FCX Clarity models. The curvature and shape of the rear hatch and glass area are a part of the drag reduction measures that have been used throughout the CR-Z’s design, as well as bringing a fresh perspective to a signature Honda design feature. Great attention was paid to maximising visibility through the rear hatch and the size and position of the spoiler which divides the two areas was very carefully researched and tested.
The rear diffuser masks the exhaust pipe on the CR-Z, giving a balanced look to the rear of the car and aiding the efficient management of airflow under the rear of the car. The diffuser has been made in a material containing aluminium flakes to give a metallic appearance to the finish.
Body Structure To achieve the radical looks of the CR-Z Concept, required innovative solutions to ensure the styling did not compromise the usability or dynamic responses of the CR-Z. The engineers wanted to create a stiff body unit to ensure dynamic responses met the expectations the styling creates. To achieve this, metal gussets are used in critical areas around the front and rear suspension turrets to provide a firm base for excellent suspension control. Furthermore an H-shaped “performance rod” was designed for the rear to increase rear chassis stiffness. The result of these stiffening efforts is a rigidity figure similar to that of the European Civic Type R.
As with all recent Honda models the CR-Z has an Advanced Compatibility EngineeringTM (ACETM) body structure. This unique Honda technology has been developed through years of testing at Honda’s Tochigi R&D centre where real cars are crashed in realistic situations. The front frame spread the load over the front crash structures to ensure the CR-Z gives maximum protection in impacts with vehicles of different bumper heights.
The interior styling of the CR-Z Concept was warmly received and Honda’s engineers and stylists were keen to reflect this in the production car.
The cabin of the CR-Z has been designed around a cockpit theme, clustering critical controls close to the driver, creating a sense of purpose and reducing distractions. The upper dashboard section contains all of the controls and dials and is formed from a RIM (Reaction Injection Moulding) moulded black plastic, which has never been used for a Honda dashboard before. This new plastic material gives a pleasing, tactile to the upper dash surfaces.
The lower section of the dashboard is formed from a light-grey material, which gives the upper section the appearance of floating. The lower, lighter section is continued almost seamlessly into the doors, to wrap the cabin around the driver and passenger. The doors feature two major areas of colour, with the larger portion matching the texture and colour of the upper “floating” section and a middle swathe coordinating with the lower, light grey section. The door grabs on some grades have been treated with a special metallic coating, which is being used for the first time in an automotive interior application. This high-gloss film is coated with evaporated metal to create a unique texture for upper grade cars.
The seats have been designed to support the driver in enthusiastic driving, with particular attention paid to the angle of the seat in relation to the pedals. The angle was set to allow the driver to sit low in the car and maintain a comfortable and practical driving position. The side bolsters of the seats have been designed to support a range of sizes of people and the seat is optimised around a European sized person. To compliment the reach and rake adjustable steering wheel, the driver’s seat has a 50 mm range of height settings, with driver and passenger seats having a 240 mm range of front to back motion.
One of the elements that has been reflected most strongly in the production car is the design of the instrument panel, which has an eye-catching and hi-tech 3D gauge design. The dials of the CR-Z have been designed to be more than just attractive, with the ambient lighting of the dials playing a key role in the 3-Mode Drive System and the Eco Assist functions.
Instrumentation The rev-counter forms the centre piece of the dashboard with the speedometer recessed in to the middle of dial. The rev-counter performs a full scale deflection from zero to maximum and back again at start-up, drawing the driver’s eye to the instrument binnacle when switching the car on.
Either side of the speedometer and rev counter are the ancillary gauges and displays, for less critical information. To the right of the centre, are the fuel gauge and fuel economy meters and below these is the Multi-Information Display (MID). On the left of the central gauge, are the IMA battery level gauge and the charge/assist gauge, which shows when the motor is assisting, or the battery being recharged.
The MID can display elapsed journey time, current fuel economy, average fuel economy and average speed. The MID can also display the current status of the motor and engine in providing power and the Eco Assist bar, which gives detailed guidance on driving style and avoiding excessive acceleration and braking when economy is the goal. Drivers can also check the economy figures achieved on their previous journeys as well as their progress towards the Eco Assist awards.
The instrument area is framed by two wing-like extensions to the instrument cowl which contains the controls for frequently used equipment, placing them close to the driver’s hands. On the left “wing” the controls for the 3-Mode Drive System are clustered alongside the controls for the door mirrors.
On the right “wing” the controls and the display for the climate control are positioned together for ease of use. The steering wheel follows the same design philosophy as other Honda models, with audio controls on the left spoke and cruise control (if fitted) on the right spoke. The MID controls are beneath the right spoke and the Hands Free Telephone HFT and voice activated satellite navigation controls (if fitted) are beneath the left spoke.
Interior Flexibility The stylish interior has a 2+2 layout which gives the possibility of extending usability beyond that of a two seat car and are also fitted with ISOFIX child seat points. The rear seats have been designed to fold easily and quickly to significantly increase cargo space. The one touch motion folding rear seats can easily be folded, even if standing behind the car, quickly extending beyond the standard 214 litres (VDA) of space. Folding the seats opens up a flat floored cargo area that gives a surprising 382 litres (VDA to window) of cargo space, allowing a wider range of luggage to be carried. The boot area also has an under-boot space of 19 litres to stow additional cargo, or store items out of sight. This area is a deep well, between the IPU and the rear bumper and will easily take a laptop case or similar. The boot area itself can be configured with a tonneau cover, or this can be removed and attached to the boot floor. This allows the user to section the luggage with the cover forming a hidden section against the boot lip, almost invisible from the outside. The third option is to secure the cover when rolled on the boot floor to remove the height restriction on cargo with the seats folded.
Equipment Equipment levels on the CR-Z are generous, with all grades benefitting from 6 airbags, active headrests, Vehicle Stability Assist and Hill Start Assist. When starting on steep inclines from a stop, Hill Start Assist temporarily prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards by maintaining brake pressure during the moment between releasing the brake, depressing the throttle and engaging the clutch (for a duration of approximately 1.0 second). All CR-Z grades will also come fitted with Climate Control, 6-speaker CD player with USB iPod® link and engine start button. The dashboard incorporates a semi-hidden box at the top of the space in front of the gear shift lever. This box is sized to accommodate an MP3 music player and contains the lead to link compatible devices to the CR-Z’s stereo. Customers will benefit from the ability to control MP3 music players from the main stereo unit, to maximise usability and minimise distractions.
Middle and top grades benefit from leather seats, steering wheel audio controls and alloy pedals. Top grades gain Bluetooth® Hands Free Telephone (HFT) controls, cruise control, panoramic glass roof, HID lights and 360W high power audio system – including a boot mounted sub-woofer.
ENGINE AND IMA SYSTEM
The CR-Z is the first car to combine a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine and the IMA system, giving excellent fuel economy and great emphasis on driver enjoyment. This 114 PS engine is combined with a 14 PS electric motor which also boosts torque, with an impressive 78 Nm at low to medium engine speeds. The combined power figure peaks at 124 PS with a healthy 174 Nm of torque.
Performance and driver enjoyment can be seen as a conflicting need to good fuel economy and exhaust emissions levels. The CR-Z’s 1.5-litre, 16-valve, i-VTEC, petrol engine provides driver enjoyment with its enthusiastic engine note, willingness to rev and broad spread of torque. At the same time its modest capacity, boosted by an electric motor can achieve excellent fuel economy and low overall exhaust emissions, including the all important CO2 emissions. The CR-Z is the first Honda hybrid, since the original 1-litre Insight to use a four valve per cylinder head with the IMA system.
The CR-Z emits just 117 g/km of CO2 on the EU test cycle and consumes just 5.0 l/100km of fuel. This CO2 figure is just 1 g/km higher than the original Civic IMA, an incredible achievement considering the over 30 PS power advantage the CR-Z has over its saloon ancestor.
The CR-Z engine used is based on the 1.5-litre Jazz unit with changes to the valve timing allowing for one intake valve to be deactivated at low engine speeds. This creates an additional swirl effect which enables fast combustion and higher exhaust gas recirculation. The effect of this additional turbulence is to reduce emissions and improve fuel consumption. At higher revs, both intake valves are opened to increase power output. Numerous small changes are made to the engine to suit the characteristics of the CR-Z, integration of the IMA system and installation in the coupe body. The original engine, as it was installed in the Jazz, would not fit under the low bonnet of the car as it stood. The development engineers developed a new intake manifold and a flat air cleaner assembly, to give sufficient clearance and allow space for pedestrian impact protection.
The 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine has not been seen in an EU specification car before and was chosen for its combination of light weight, fuel efficiency and compact size. The block of the 1.5-litre engine is similar to other Jazz engine variants and the Insight meaning that integration of the IMA system is simplified. Because the basic block layout is shared with the 1.3-litre Insight engine, the sump pan that was developed for that car was adopted. This measure assisted the team in the task of reducing the overall engine height and lowering the position in the chassis.
IMA System The IMA system is shared with the Insight hybrid, but the software and settings have been altered to interact with the 3-Mode Drive System and manual transmission. Although the operating revs are quite different in a manual car, the flexibility of Honda’s IMA parallel hybrid system makes integration of different engines and transmissions more straightforward.
Extensive testing was done to ensure that the impressive durability of the Insight’s IMA hardware was not compromised in any way by the addition of a manual gearbox. Particular attention was paid to the possibility of over-revving the engine due to missed gear changes and the implications this might have for the system
The electric motor provides its peak torque instantly from the start, boosting the low end torque of the CR-Z by more than 70 Nm, improving initial acceleration. The torque curve of the new hybrid is unusually flat for a naturally aspirated engine, with the peak arriving at just 1500 rpm, enabling great flexibility at all engine speeds.
The battery pack in the CR-Z is a 100.8 volt Nickel Metal Hydride unit which provides an excellent balance between output, reliability, safety and cost. As with the rest of the system, the battery pack is shared with the incredibly reliable Insight model, which has proved itself to have the lowest warranty claim rate of any Honda car sold in Europe during 2009. At the end of the vehicle life, the battery pack can be recycled through Honda dealers.
Exhaust Design and Tuning To ensure that drivers would be able to enjoy driving the CR-Z on the open road, the development team dedicated a great deal of time and thought to the design of the exhaust. The brief was not only to create an efficient unit that allowed the optimum operation of the engine to minimise emissions and generate the target power level, but also to produce an enjoyable sound. Because of the diversity of environments, drivers and speeds that the CR-Z was designed for, engineers would not be satisfied with an exhaust that merely had less silencing capacity.
A great deal of development time was dedicated to the design of the exhaust to give it a sporty note when the engine was being worked hard, but without excessive noise during motorway or town use. To achieve this the team spent time tuning other components, including the engine mounts and noise insulation, to isolate unpleasant sounds, and allow the most pleasing acoustic ranges of the exhaust to be heard without reducing silencing too far.
3-Mode Drive System The CR-Z has been designed to be a car that combines driver enjoyment with excellent urban driving performance and economy. The two major roles of the car can be sometimes in opposition, with characteristics like sharp throttle response and greater steering weight increasing driver satisfaction in open road driving, but possibly proving frustrating in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Honda’s engineers have developed the 3-Mode Drive System for the CR-Z, which allows the driver to alter the characteristics of the car depending on their needs and the environment the car is being driven in. By significantly altering the responses of the car, the CR-Z’s new system allows drivers to adapt to different road and traffic situations.
The new feature enables the driver to choose between three driving modes which alter the responses of the throttle, steering, climate control and the level of assistance provided by the IMA system.
In developing this new facility, Honda allows the driver to decide whether they wish to maximise sportiness, economy or the best balance between the two.
SPORT Mode Sport buttons have become commonplace, usually offering a sharper throttle response, but Honda’s 3-Mode Drive System is different. The new system alters the behaviour of the hybrid drivetrain and the power steering assistance as well as the throttle mapping between the three modes.
When the CR-Z driver is away from the town or city and wanting to enjoy the open road, they can put the car into SPORT mode. This sharpens the throttle response, changes the behaviour of the IMA hybrid system to provide more electric motor assistance and increases the weight of the electric power steering.
ECON Mode Honda recognises that even the most enthusiastic driver may regularly experience heavy traffic, where maximising fuel economy is more desirable than the perfect line through a corner. In these situations ECON mode can be selected, which prioritises fuel economy in the operation of the drive-by-wire throttle, ECU, air conditioning and the hybrid system. For those times when spirited driving is not possible or desirable, the Eco Assist function, in conjunction with the ECON mode, allows the driver to enjoy beating their best economy score on the way to work, or in heavy traffic.
The ECON mode reduces the sensitivity of the throttle to smooth out inputs and this action is assisted by the use of a different engine map that prioritises fuel economy. The climate control system is also influenced by the ECON mode, by recirculating air and reducing compressor operation in order to reduce energy consumption. The use of the motor to assist the petrol engine is redefined with the priority given to improve fuel economy, not assist performance.
NORMAL Mode At all times the car can be run in NORMAL mode, which provides a balance between performance, economy and emissions and suits most driving situations.
Eco Assist Together with the ECON mode, the CR-Z uses a guidance function that can be used to achieve high fuel economy and thus minimise harmful exhaust emissions.
During driving, there are two main elements to the system: an ‘eco drive bar’ indicator within the Multi Information Display (MID), and an ambient meter, behind the digital speedometer display. Both instruments are synchronised, to give real time information on the consumption of fuel and provide guidance on how you could alter your driving style. The ‘eco guide bar’ in the MID is a solid bar symbol that moves to either side of a central line. The idea is to drive in a way that keeps the bar in the centre and away from the shaded areas on either side.
When driving smoothly, and thus efficiently, the bar stays near the centre of the indicator, shifting slightly right during gradual acceleration and slightly to the left when braking gently. During these conditions, the ambient meter behind the speed display glows a green colour to show optimum economical driving performance.
Under greater acceleration, or when braking moderately, the bar in the MID shifts more towards either end of the scale, showing the use of more fuel, and the ambient meter glows a green/blue colour.
With aggressive acceleration, or sudden braking, the indicator bar will head to the right or left, into the shaded areas of the scale to show major fuel consumption and the ambient meter turns blue respectively.
In order to achieve the best fuel consumption figures, the driver should aim to keep the bar in the centre, and the display glowing green as much as possible throughout each journey. To help motivate drivers during each journey, another display above the bar indicator grants rewards for more efficient driving. If performing well, small leaves will ‘grow’ above the bar to show the driver’s eco-progress, with more leaves and eventually a flower added if the system records a ‘perfect’ score.
Also, by pressing the Info button on the steering wheel and scrolling through the MID displays, drivers can not only look at their average fuel consumption of the current trip, but can also retrieve their average fuel economy of the last three journeys.
The CR-Z is fitted with a Shift Indicator Light (SIL), which alerts the driver to the optimally efficient shift up or down point. Following the indications of the light, combined with following the advice of the Eco Assist function, can improve fuel consumption by up to 10%, reaffirming Honda’s commitment to improve every day fuel economy.
Eco Scoring Once a journey is over, and the ignition is turned off, the ‘eco guide’ in the MID changes to an ‘eco score’ display. Now, the leaf symbols at the top, report on the driver’s performance during the last drive, while the bar and symbols at the bottom of the display, show a lifetime score. This is shown in three stages with the fully grown plant and flower to the right of the bar showing the best score.
If the driver’s stage has improved since the last journey, a recognition symbol with wreathes is displayed. At the end of the third stage a trophy symbol appears indicating good progress.
Conversely, if the driving style is worse, and the lifetime score and stage regresses, then the recognition symbol of a withering plant is displayed.
The normal mode – NORMAL -, which provides a balance between performance, economy and emissions generally suits all driving situations. NORMAL mode balances the operation of the IMA system, climate control and throttle between maximum economy and driver enjoyment, this is the mode the CR-Z defaults to on start-up. In this mode the power steering settings are the same as in ECON. All homologation tests are undertaken in NORMAL mode since this is the default mode for the car at start-up. Between the different modes, the icon of each mode is displayed on the MID for two seconds before reverting to the previously selected information.
Scramble-Assist Scramble-assist is a control strategy which detects the acceleration demand of the driver from the accelerator pedal movement and increases the amount of motor-assist. Under SPORT mode it provides proportionally greater assistance for a given pedal movement, resulting in better acceleration performance compared to NORMAL mode.
The motor-assist is a control mechanism where the electric motor supports when the accelerator pedal is pressed. It can be divided roughly into four situations which are: drive-away, during eco assist, scramble-assist and 70-80% throttle. With SPORT mode engaged, there is an improvement in performance during scramble-assist.
ECON Cruise Control When Cruise Control is set during normal driving, the removal of excessive acceleration when driving on the flat and when descending hills, improves fuel consumption. However, during gradient changes, it is possible for a conventional system to accelerate excessively, causing additional fuel consumption. The ECON Cruise Control minimises unnecessary throttle openings in these situations. The ECON Cruise Control softens the responses to increases in gradient and allows some variations in speed to reduce consumption. Allied with the ECON mode, this cruise control reduces fuel consumption, without sacrificing driver comfort.
Cruise control operating under conventional settings, is available in SPORT or NORMAL mode since it is expected that these modes will be used in driving conditions where the vehicle’s speed will vary significantly throughout the journey.
The CR-Z is the first hybrid to be fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox, which allows drivers maximum control over the torquey combination of the 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine and the IMA motor.
For the European market a manual gearbox was considered essential and a 6-speed considered the optimum gearbox for both economy and sportier driving. As a parallel hybrid system it is easy to adapt Honda’s IMA system to work with a variety of hardware and as shown with the original 1999 Insight, a manual gearbox can work very well with the right hybrid technology.
The manual gearbox will give the CR-Z a very different character from existing hybrid models and will give the driver a new level of interaction.
The gearbox has been developed with the enthusiastic driver in mind, with a short shift and a firm but light action that encourages the driver to change regularly. Tolerances of the shift mechanism components have been optimised to reduce free play in the mechanism. The detent is a component that controls the movement of the shift lever and this area was the subject of a great deal of attention to achieve a positive click with each gear change.
Even with a six speed gearbox and sporty shift action, it is not essential to continuously work the CR-Z’s gearbox. The ample low end torque of the engine and IMA system means in gear flexibility is also impressive.
The chassis development of the CR-Z was always going to be a cornerstone of the character of the car. From the outset, the basic platform was going to be shared with the Honda Insight hybrid, but with significant changes in length, track width, components and settings.
The most significant change to the platform, is the reduction in wheelbase by 115 mm to increase the agility and reduce the overall length of the CR-Z by 310 mm. Along with the reduction in wheelbase the track width has been increased by 20 mm (front) 25 mm (rear) to give greater stability.
The basic architecture of the suspension for the CR-Z is similar to the Insight that it shares its platform architecture with. Changes have been made to components to suit the sporting nature of the CR-Z and maximise driver enjoyment. The springs, dampers and anti-roll bars are unique to the new coupe to suit the different characteristics of the CR-Z.
To complement the wider track and reduce weight, the lower arms of the front MacPherson strut suspension have been formed from forged aluminium, rather than the pressed steel used for the Insight arms. These aluminium struts are in total 4 kg lighter than the steel components, as well as being stronger, to support the greater forces generated by the increase in track width and tyre size.
The rear suspension is an H-shaped Torsion beam, which is built along the same design concept as the Insight in providing excellent control of the rear wheels, while creating room for the low mounting of the IMA batteries and control unit. The mounting of the IMA system’s batteries below the boot, and the low overall height of the CR-Z has clear handling benefits, lowering the centre of gravity for the coupe. The trailing arms in the CR-Z are modified to increase track width and increase strength.
Steering For the first time for Honda, a new advanced EPS control that gives a more linear and natural feel to the steering was implemented. The new software combined with the ability to select the level of assistance through the 3-Mode Drive system gives the CR-Z a totally different steering feel to other Honda hybrids.
All grades of the CR-Z are fitted with lightweight 16″ alloy wheels as standard, which are shod with 195/55R16 tyres. 17″ wheels are available from dealers as an accessory for customers wishing to further personalise their car.
RECYCLING AND ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION
Recyclability of CR-Z The CR-Z is 92% recyclable overall and Honda is continually working on ways to improve the figure closer to full recyclability. The battery pack is included in this figure, meaning the CR-Z is no less recyclable than a conventionally powered vehicle.
The battery mountain myth Since the beginning of sales of Honda hybrids in 1999, questions have been raised about the disposal of batteries should they ever need to be replaced, or at the end of the cars life. There were concerns that hybrid vehicles would generate a mountain of unwanted batteries or fill up landfill waste sites.
In reality battery packs contain metals that still have a value at the end of its useful life and can be recycled economically to create new battery packs or many other uses. Honda dealers will take the returned packs and these are either recycled locally through battery recycling plants in the country or by Umicore who recycle batteries for Honda centrally.
The main metal recovered from the battery packs, Nickel is used in hundreds of applications and uses. The amount of Nickel used in battery production, is tiny in comparison to the global consumption of the metal for the production of alloys like steel. The economic value of Nickel means those that are removed outside of the Honda network will almost certainly find their way into a recycling facility to recover the recyclable material.
Energy usage in build as part of the lifecycle Because hybrid vehicles have additional technology and hardware included over and above what is found in a conventional engined car, it has been incorrectly suggested that the energy consumed in building them outweighs the energy saved in use. Honda’s own research shows that although a modest amount of extra energy is used in the build and disposal phase of the lifecycle, the savings in the use period are significantly greater than this extra energy.
A lifecycle analysis of the Civic Hybrid shown here, indicates that over a shorter than usual lifecycle of just 100,000 km, the overall energy used is 40% lower than for a conventional 1.8-litre Civic saloon. This is because the usage phase of the lifecycle uses far more energy (78%) than any other part and therefore energy saved during this critical phase has a bigger impact on the overall figure.
Honda is continually working on reducing the impact of its factories on the environment in a number of ways. One long-running target for Honda, has been to develop technologies to ensure that the manufacturing process is not just energy and cost efficient, but produces zero waste to landfill. This aim was set out by Honda’s founder Soichiro Honda in 1956: “After materials are carried into the factory, nothing but products should be carried out from it.
At the time Mr. Honda made this bold statement there was little global interest in environmental issues or protection. Yet despite this, the founder firmly believed that Honda should avoid polluting the environment in the manufacturing or use of its products. Getting to zero waste to landfill was a very long process and one that required innovations, persistence and commitment. All Japanese Honda factories have now reached this target and all other Honda factories are scheduled to achieve this landmark by the end of 2010. Efficient energy utilisation is a critical part of Honda’s manufacturing philosophy and the Suzuka factory is an example of these continuing efforts. The factory roof is covered in a substantial solar array which contributes to the power needs of the plant, reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The Suzuka factory also uses a giant cogeneration unit, which is used to heat the factory and produce electricity at the same time. By using the energy from natural gas fuel more efficiently, the co-generation unit helps to reduce overall CO2 emissions by combining two processes. Generating electricity locally is also far more efficient as it cuts out the substantial power line losses that are experienced when electricity is used a great distance from where it is generated.
As a compact 2+2 coupe with a double window rear hatch and shallow sloping roof line, the CR-Z’s links to the CR-X are clear. What perhaps is less obvious is the link between the cars’ aims and original design briefs.
The CR-X was first launched in 1983 and received a warm welcome as a compact, agile coupe that transformed opinions on Honda in the US and Europe. What is less well known is that the major purpose of the CR-X was to break the 50 mpg barrier in the US and top the EPA fuel economy ratings. The design of the car was dictated by the need to be compact and therefore light, as well as aerodynamic needs.
Because of the compact wheelbase and light weight, the CR-X proved to be an excellent handling and fun-to-drive car. Current Honda CEO and President, Takonobu Ito, who worked on the engineering of the chassis of the CR-X and recognises the need for a new era of environmentally responsible fun cars, commented at the Detroit motor show debut of the CR-Z: “My first assignment in the U.S. came in the early 1980s. I was a young engineer, developing the chassis for the first generation Honda CR-X. You might remember it as the “pocket rocket.” I remember CR-X as a vehicle that demonstrated that a car can be both sporty and fuel efficient. Times have changed … but the idea of developing vehicles that are both fun to drive and fuel efficient is alive and well.”
Honda’s First Hybrid Coupe – The Insight Honda’s Insight was the first hybrid to be sold in Europe and the US, and like the CR-Z, was a 3-door coupe with a manual (5-speed) transmission. The role of CR-Z and the original Insight coupe are quite different, but the daring styling of the Honda’s original hybrid also had the signature two window rear hatch and aerodynamically sculpted roofline.
The 1999 Insight was also available with a CVT transmission, showing from the start that Honda’s innovative IMA parallel hybrid system is impressively flexible and adaptable. This car paved the way for Honda’s modern hybrids and demonstrated the benefits of petrol electric technology as well as proving the reliability of this previously unseen system. Such was the success of the original concept, used Insights are commanding high prices in the used market, as their combination of reliability and fuel economy has won many fans.
In the 10-years since the Insight was launched, the world and the European car market has changed a great deal, and more environmentally sensitive technologies have become mainstream interests. Honda’s first foray into the hybrid market started a petrol electric revolution for the company that will continue with the CR-Z, Jazz hybrid and others in the future.