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Honda will build a more powerful version of the CR-Z sport hybrid and it will continue to be a hybrid, according to R&D boss Tomohiko Kawanabe.
Previous reports had suggested a CR-Z ‘Type R’ might toss the company’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system in favor of a turbocharger, but that will not be the case. Instead, the higher performance CR-Z might not be turbocharged at all.
In a recent interview Kawanabe admitted that the current model doesn’t “have the performance some customers expect,” and commented that while the addition of a turbocharger to the hybrid setup (like that found on the CR-Z Hybrid R Concept shown at last year’s SEMA Show) is an option, “a high-compression petrol engine would work better in tandem with a hybrid assist system.”
That news shouldn’t be surprising, considering Honda’s expertise in building naturally aspirated engines. With the possibility of a larger displacement block, the more powerful CR-Z is also likely to use an updated IMA system with a smaller, lighter and more powerful lithium-ion battery pack, enabling as much as twice the hybrid boost found in the current model.
GALLERY: Honda Hybrid R Concept
Read AutoGuide’s Honda CR-Z Review Here
The new Honda CR-Z will go on sale in the U.S. on August 24th, with a starting price of under $20,000 reports InsideLine. Unfortunately the car will not be eligible for a federal tax credit. Apparently the rules state that only 60,000 tax credits for hybrids are allowed per automaker and Honda spokesman Chuck Schifsky told IL that Honda passed that mark several years ago. Honda is able to offer the car for so little because of the less-sophisticated nickle-metal hydride battery used (rather than a lithium-ion one).
At that price range Honda intents to target buyers aged 25-35, although initial reports from Japan suggest the car is a bigger hit with an older demographic.
Sadly, for performance enthusiasts who might be attracted to the CR-Z’s small size and styling, Honda says a higher performance Si or Type R model is not in the plans. John Mendel, Honda’s VP of sales wasn’t exactly forceful on the point, however, commenting that there’s “nothing official” in the product plans. There are also no plans for a pure electric model, with Honda holding the belief that for some applications EVs will work, but that for normal use in the U.S., Honda just doesn’t see an EV catching on – at least with the current range capabilities.
Honda’s new CR-Z makes 122-hp and 128 ft-lbs of torque from a 1.5-liter gasoline engine mated to an electric motor, using Honda’s Integrate Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. Fuel economy is expected to reach 31/37-mpg (city/highway) for the 6-speed manual and 35/39-mpg for the CVT automatic.
GALLERY: Honda CR-Z Mega Gallery