"To add speed, add lightness."
These wise words are attributed to the legendary English motoring magician, Colin Chapman. For the uninitiated, Chapman founded the famous sports car company, Lotus, and before his death in 1982, led it to seven Constructors' Titles, six Drivers' Championships, a little ol' race in Indianapolis, , and production of many classic sports cars for lucky owners around the world. While his influence and credentials are truly gold standard, it is his engineering theory as noted in the title above that continues to win the hearts of true automotive enthusiasts around the world. And just to make sure we all understood, he also said: "More power makes it fast on the straight, less weight makes it fast everywhere."
Much has been written and said about the new CR-Z and its role as a hybrid sports car in Honda's line-up. Does it deliver high enough MPG to be considered a worthy hybrid? Does it have enough horsepower to be a considered a worthy sports car? Should these two traits even try to live within one car? In fact, just last week we learned that the President of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Tetsuo Imamura, was skeptical about the chances of success for such a car...from Honda or any other manufacturer. His feeling was that "hybrid = Prius" in the U.S. market, and to be fair, that is a logical conclusion based on the overwhelming success of the Prius vs. other hybrids. But then Imamura-san was handed the keys to the production version of the CR-Z, and it all became clear.
I know exactly how Iwamura-san feels.
While I am not allowed to share details or driving impressions, I can tell you that Honda also handed keys to a production version of the CR-Z to me. I gave it a proper test on your behalf...drove it hard just like you will. And it all became clear.
The reason Colin Chapman's wise words have stood the test of time is because they are so very true. Some of you will argue that there is "no replacement for displacement" when describing how a sports car should feel. And I will never dispute that the grunt of a big V8, V10, or even V12 can be a wonderful part of motoring nirvana. But a true sports car delivers a balance and athleticism that is hard to harness and replicate with a heavier or overpowered car. "More power makes it fast on the straight, less weight makes it fast everywhere." And the CR-Z delivers on Chapman's promise. I know that the CR-Z may not inspire passion or excitement on either the MPG or overall power fronts. But it is within the total package that they make perfect sense. And just wait until you hear the exhaust note! Not a V8 rumble or turbo scream, of course, but perfectly tuned for such a unique car and fun to "play" if you opt for the 6 speed manual transmission. (My suggestion, by the way!)
Until the launch later this summer, you will have to trust me when I say that the CR-Z is much more rewarding to drive than the numbers suggest. Well, trust me and Imamura-san.
James Bell is a sponsored contributor to this Honda blog