The Love Child Lives!
The introduction of the all-new Honda CR-Z at this year's Detroit Auto Show was especially exciting for me as I have been a hybrid enthusiast since 2002 and "put my money where my mouth is" twice when I purchased a 2004 and 2006 Toyota Prius for my family. The other hybrids available thus far to US drivers deliver enjoyable driving experiences...if working for an additional 1/10th of MPG between fill-ups is your sort of fun. For the purposes of full disclosure, at one time I also enjoyed this game. But it gets old and is not offset by particularly exciting acceleration, handling, or sporty or sophisticated style in any of the current offerings.
And then, unexpectedly, at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, my jaw hit the ground when Toyota broke cover with its FT-HS concept. The idea of this vehicle promised a perfect blend of "enthusiastic economy" all in one car. My mind raced with thoughts of hybrid-type fuel economy and responsible emissions coupled with nimble and responsive handling and wrapped up in an appealing sport coupe. And I told Toyota's US chief after his presentation that I would buy the first if and when he green-lighted the car for actual production.
Fast forward to early 2010 and I now see that I should have made that same promise to Honda's John Mendel as the 2012 CR-Z embodies all that I hoped for when I drank in that Toyota concept. In the CR-Z, Honda has beaten Toyota, Ford, and all other manufacturers into an untapped "white space" in the global car market. And this car will also help prepare Honda for the 2016 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard of 35.5 MPG per fleet as it expands of their hybrid line-up with a vehicle that appeals equally to the heart and to the mind. And if fuel prices make another jump in the near future, the CR-Z will be just as appealing to the wallet!
Though I am still dreaming about the day when I am handed the keys to a CR-Z for testing, I can already surmise that it will be extremely fun to drive. The design leads me to assume that one quiet night a love child was created by a 1989 CRX and a 2002 Insight in a corner of Honda's studios...and this baby was born with "look at me" style with aerodynamic and energy efficiency plus unexpected nimble and responsive handling. A well known "truth" in the auto biz is that many times a car that is slightly underpowered but light weight and finely balanced is much more fun to drive than a car saddled with excess bulk thanks to the need to harness an overly powerful engine. I can't help but imagine that the new CR-Z is going to deliver on this concept "smile after smile".
James Bell is a sponsored contributor to this Honda blog