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Paris show: Honda teases facelifted CR-Z

Mystery button: Honda revealed this S+ button as part of its CR-Z teaser campaign, which could hint at a harder-edged fourth setting in addition to the current car’s Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes.

Teasers emerge as Honda readies a spruced-up CR-Z hybrid coupe in time for Paris

11 Sep 2012

A MID-LIFE facelift of Honda’s hybrid-powered CR-Z coupe is set to debut at the Paris motor show later this month, judging from a series of teaser images that have appeared on its Japanese website.

Honda Australia public relations manager Melissa Cross confirmed to GoAuto the images are of a facelifted model that is planned to arrive in local showrooms in the first half of next year.

An aggressive new alloy wheel design and intriguing ‘S+’ dashboard button hint at a possible new performance variant, while a shot of the headlight with daytime running LEDs appears little different to the existing unit – although GoAuto understands not all CR-Z markets currently get standard daytime running lights.

The images take the form of a slide-show with a mixture of Japanese and English text, in which the final slide displays the opening date of the Paris motor show and says (according to overseas translations) “Life Design Hybrid, Second Generation CR-Z”.

Between the images are strings of Japanese text that reportedly translate to “for everybody, for every road, for any speed, enjoy the drive”.

15 center imageFrom top: Teaser images of the 2013 Honda CR-Z Current Honda CR-Z.

Honda unveiled the production CR-Z at the Detroit motor show in January 2010 and only launched it in Australia last November, meaning the mid-life facelift has come relatively early – perhaps in response to the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ twins and the Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo.

In the face of tough competition, Honda will be keen to make the CR-Z more appealing to enthusiasts by improving the handling and perhaps boosting performance, as straight-line speed was never the car’s strong point.

The current CR-Z has a three driving modes that affect the steering, pedal and engine response, called Eco, Normal and Sport, so it follows that Honda’s image of the S+ button will add a fourth setting that is even more responsive than the existing Sport mode.

Honda may also fit adaptive suspension to the facelifted model, which could be firmed up by activating S+ mode, although there is a cost and weight penalty with such systems.

One way Honda could improve performance over the current CR-Z without fitting a more powerful hybrid system is by adopting the new Civic Hybrid’s comparatively compact and lightweight lithium-ion battery pack.

The Civic Hybrid is slightly torquier than the CR-Z (172Nm vs 167Nm) but less powerful (85kW vs 91kW) but a torque boost and weight reduction over the current 1190kg CR-Z would make a meaningful difference to its accelerative performance while contributing to the extra agility enthusiasts desire.

When launching the CR-Z, Honda Australia forecast it would sell about 50 CR-Zs a month but has so far averaged only 36 sales – although volume peaked last month with 85 units, around double the coupe’s previous best.

Overall Honda sales are recovering well after last year’s natural disaster-related slump, with August registrations up 88.8 per cent, contributing to 5.6 per cent growth year-to-date on 22,864 units.

The next hybrid launch on the agenda for Honda Australia is the Jazz light car, which is expected to make its local debut at the Sydney motor show next month and will be sourced from Thailand.

Plug-in and standard hybrid versions of the ninth-generation Accord sedan are also on the agenda for Australia.

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