Report: Honda CR-Z was almost killed twice, U.S. dealers didn't want it

2011 Honda CR-Z – Click above for high-res image gallery

Norio Tomobe, chief engineer of the Honda CR-Z, said "The CR-Z is supposed to be an intelligent sports car." We can spend a fair bit of time debating the 'intelligence' of a sports coupe that gets from 0-to-60 in 9.7 seconds and has just two seats but gets worse gas mileage than a Toyota Prius. However, we won't really be able to decide on the issue until we drive it, and that is apparently what it takes to feel the love for it.

According to Automotive News, back when the CR-Z was being designed to house a traditional gasoline-only drivetrain, Tomobe said he and his team dug deep to come up with a new idea for the car, which ended up being a hybrid drivetrain and a six-speed transmission. But that wasn't until after they had tried to kill the project. Twice. And that didn't stop the president of American Honda Motor from repeatedly telling Japan the U.S. didn't need or want a sporty hybrid, which he thought would confuse customers. Until he drove it, and then all was go.

The hybrid's compromises remain a subject on everyone's minds. Tomobe wants more horsepower, and rumors began a month ago about a Type-R iteration. Even though Tomobe claims "We are not pursuing absolute maximum speed," we can't help but wonder if this first version of Honda's 122-horsepower future satisfies his own aspiration that "What we aim for is a car that is exhilarating to drive."

Photos by Drew Phillips
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[Source: Automotive News – sub. req'd.]

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