Honda CR-Z Hybrid Gets Some Apparently Needed Updates

Honda is trumpeting updates to its 2013 CR-Z hybrid at the Paris Motor Show, and it’s not difficult to understand why: the car was on Green Car Reports’ list of “five new 2012 hybrid cars to consider steering clear of.”

There are a whole host of cosmetic changes to the vehicle —  new front bumper design, framing a revised grille; a new rear aerodynamic diffuser design; and new colors such as “Energetic Yellow” and “Aurora Violet.”

honda crz

image via Honda

Inside the car, Honda said the 2013 gets a new material for the seats and door lining; a new color scheme; revisions to the door casings to improve cabin storage; and new LED lights that “create a high quality feel at night.”

But Honda is also talking up improved performance. The company says “the CR-Z’s 1.5-litre petrol engine has been updated with changes to the variable valve timing system and Engine Control Unit (ECU). An anti-vibration knock sensor has been introduced and the material of the crankshaft has been upgraded. The peak power output has been increased from 114 PS to 121 PS.”

honda crz interior

image via Honda

The electric motor system didn’t escape tinkering, as well. “The change from a Nickel-metal hybrid (Ni-MH) to a Lithium Ion battery has been accompanied by an increase in power from 14 PS (10 kW) to 20 PS (15 kW),” Honda said.

Whether this solves the essential dilemma of the CR-Z hybrid is hard to say. Green Car Reports found the car to be “a mixed message,” calling it “neither a light, lithe, roller-skate sports coupe like the 1984-1992 CRX, nor an ultra-economical hybrid with breathtaking gas mileage like the original 2000-2006 Honda Insight (rated at 53 mpg with a five-speed six-speed manual).”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.