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

According to John Mendel, executive vice president for automobile sales at American Honda, people his age (55, for what it's worth) remember the seminal CRX as a highly tunable and fun-to-drive little hatchback that happened to get excellent fuel economy. We'll go along with that. Mendel continues, though, to suggest that the Japanese automaker expects its new CR-Z hybrid hatch to sell in large numbers to those older-generation tuners. Really?

We can buy the argument that the tuning crowd will see the the car's hybrid system as more than just a means to boost fuel efficiency. After all, it does add about 20 horsepower to the car's final output. But bear in mind that the power figure we're talking about is still just 122 ponies and 128 lb-ft of torque. That's not a lot of power to work with, though we'd imagine the six-speed manual gearbox will help extract those overworked horses.

Now that it's a decade old, the original two-seat Honda Insight has indeed earned a bit of credibility from the tuner crowd... but most of its credentials come from all-out engine swaps that allow the car's light weight and aerodynamic prowess to truly shine. We can't imagine much of that going on with this brand-new CR-Z. But what do we know? Here's hoping that Honda's upcoming sporty hybrid hatchback beats all of our lofty expectations.

In any case, we're just hoping that the CR-Z's actual fuel efficiency turns out better than the currently estimated 36 miles per gallon in the city and 38 on the highway. If that's the case, the car could potentially appeal to more than just the tuning crowd since we're all looking to save a bit on our fuel usage.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]

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