Take a look at the specs and it's easy to dismiss the 2011 Honda CR-Z out of hand. Despite its hybrid drivetrain, the 1.5-liter four coupled with its electric motor churns out a lackluster 122 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque and only nets a combined 37 mpg. That's far from enough to set enthusiasts hearts aflutter or goad hypermilers out of their Prius and into what's essentially Insight 2.0 (ignoring Honda's four-door Toyota-fighter for the moment).
The only (cold) consolation for enthusiasts desperate for a CRX redux is a six-speed manual taking the place of the optional CVT. And we've yet to get an official curb weight for the NA-spec model. So...
What was Honda's mindset when it created the CR-Z? If you can believe the marketing frippery in the video after the jump, it's all about "fun-to-drive." According to Terukazu Torikai, the chief engineer for chassis dynamics on the CR-Z, Honda benchmarked several vehicles during the development of its new hatch, and not only was Mini mentioned a few times, Honda drove everything from the Volkswagen Scirocco to the Lotus Elise. Torikai goes on to say that "the performance of the Elise kept on inspiring us throughout the whole development process." That bodes well from both a handling and steering perspective, but we remain lukewarm on the prospects until we finally get a stint behind the wheel.