I’ve been curious about the Honda CR-Z since it debuted a couple of years ago. Honda touted it as a sport hybrid which they backed up with a 6-speed manual transmission and aggressive CRX-inspired styling. The CR-Z’s front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam suspension is also based on the Honda Fit’s which has set the standard in fun, tossable sub-compact cars for several years. The drivetrain department is where things get a bit interesting. The CR-Z’s combined power output is listed at 130 hp and 140 ft-lbs of torque. The Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) permanent magnet electric motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission is responsible for 23 of those horsepowers and a whopping 78 ft-lbs of torque. As with all electric motors, the torque is available starting at 0 rpm which makes a noticeable difference as the Everyday Driver guys note.
The fact that the engine and motor are linked to a manual transmission brings up a couple of interesting points. The first is that the EPA has rated the 6-speed CR-Z as less efficient than the CVT version because most people clutch in when coming to a stop which robs the electric motor of any chance to do any regenerative braking. This can be solved with some heel-toe downshifting and relying more on engine/motor braking. The three pedal configuration also opens the option of tuning the CR-Z as shown by the HKS Green Monster Project. Traditional hybrid vehicle architecture involves a controller that balances the power inputs of the gas engine and electric motor. Adding a turbocharger to a car like the Toyota Prius won’t actually make it any faster without reprogramming the supervisory controller since it’s designed to request the stock amount of power from the engine. Not so with the CR-Z. You can definitely add power to the drivetrain with the trade-off being that you manually have to engage regenerative braking which is something an enthusiast probably does anyway. I think a CR-Z will make for a fairly interesting project one day when they get cheap enough. Too bad they’re not selling really well since there doesn’t seem to be many people in the market for sporty hybrids, yet.
Source: Everyday Driver on YouTube