2009 Honda CR-Z Concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

One of the most highly-anticipated new model releases scheduled to debut at next month's Tokyo Motor Show would have to be the production version of Honda's CR-Z hybrid hatchback. That's not happening. Instead, we're getting a concept version of the production car. First unveiled at the Tokyo show back in 2007 in pure concept form, the sporty two-passenger CR-Z is slated for production early next year in Japan. We expect the CR-Z to hit the States sometime thereafter.

Underhood will be a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to Honda's proprietary Integrated Motor Assist technology. Also on the menu will be a six-speed manual gearbox that will surely be a more entertaining partner for driving enthusiasts than the CVT used in the Insight hatchback.

While Honda is still calling the Tokyo-bound 2009 version of the CR-Z a concept, it's clearly one of those concept-in-name-only deals. Don't expect the attractive sheetmetal to be altered before the car hits the showroom floor, and that interior is pretty much the same one you'll be able to sample in 2010. That's fine by us – the car's wedge-shaped lines are very attractive and call to mind the seminal CRX from the early 1980s, though with a modern flavor reminiscent of the current Insight. See for yourselves in our gallery below.

[Source: Honda]

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