While more and more automakers are expanding their hybrid platforms, Honda is going against the grain by taking a hybrid model and transforming it to a gasoline-only car.
Honda has announced that the next generation CR-Z will be running a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Experts are expecting that Honda will use the same 2.0-liter, 280 horsepower VTEC that currently powers the Civic Type-R.
The car will most likely debut in 2017 as a model for the following year.
This will be the first time the CR-Z has been a gas-only car – ever since its debut in 2010, the CR-Z has featured a hybrid platform. The 2015 model (pictured above) is running a 1.5-liter gas engine and electric motor with a combined output of 130 horsepower.
Critics have complained that this powertrain is too weak for a sporty compact. And the coupe’s average 31 mpg is not enough of a fuel savings to justify the car’s watered-down performance.
Sales have been as lackluster as the car: Honda posted less than 3,600 sales in the U.S. last year for the CR-Z.
But Honda is betting that a turbocharged inline-four can get the CR-Z back on the right track.
“The two reasons that forced Honda to phase it out [in Europe and Australia], namely its weak street cred and lack of performance thanks to its ho-hum hybrid power unit, have been addressed.
“The new coupe will be a force to reckon with,” a Honda source told Car and Driver.
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While the original CR-Z was based off the Fit, the 2018 CR-Z will be borrowing the platform from the Civic and design elements from the Civic Type-R and the Acura NSX.
When building the next generation of hybrids, carmakers frequently tweak their powertrains for extra power and efficiency. So it’s a bit unusual that, instead of looking for ways to boost its CR-Z hybrid setup, Honda is opting to replace it.
Honda’s recent activities on the racetrack add to the peculiarity of this decision. This year, Honda has returned to Formula One racing with a very high-tech hybrid setup capable of 200+ mph. This power unit – which includes systems to recapture energy from heat and brakes – gives Honda the opportunity to prove the potency of its hybrid technology.
Hopefully, Honda will learn new tricks on the track with this hybrid powertrain to boost the performance of its hybrid streetcars.