Revamped hybrid all torqued up
The Honda CR-Z has a fresh new body look. Tail-lights have been restyled and the car sports two-tone 17inch alloy wheels.

When Honda launched its sporty hybrid CR-Z in 2011 it wanted to show that you don't have to take the fun out of driving just because it is a hybrid.

And it seemed that it had found the right formula with the 2+2 coupe being named the car of the year by Wheels Magazine the same year.

Now Honda has further enhanced its performance credentials, though it does come at a slight fuel consumption cost.

When the 1.5-litre engine is matched to the six-speed manual transmission, combined power for the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system increases from 91 to 100kW with torque up from 174 to 190 Newton metres. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) version is up to 99kW/172Nm - 5Nm more than its predecessor.

But the boost in power has also seen fuel consumption in the manual go from 5.0 to 5.3L/100km. The CVT consumption has risen by the same amount to 5.0L/100km, but this still ensures the CR-Z is one of the more fuel- efficient vehicles on the market.

The 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine is carried over but the nickel-metal hydride battery has been replaced with a lighter and more powerful lithium-ion unit that has contributed to the increase in power.

The CR-Z's sporting credentials have also been improved with the addition of a Plus Sport (S+) button that provides a surge in acceleration for up to 10 seconds, though it can only be implemented if the battery is over 50 per cent charged.

The new 2013 model also has a fresh look with the front bumper and grille and rear tail lights all changed. It also has new two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels.

The cabin gets white stitching and new LED lights and two new exterior colours - Northern Lights Violet and Polished Metal - have been added to the palette.

But the biggest change is the pairing down from two specification levels to one, a reflection of lower-than-expected sales over the past 12 months. After solid initial interest following its release, trade has slowed considerably since the introduction of cars like the cheaper Hyundai Veloster, Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ.

Previously available for $34,990 in entry-level Sport guise, with a $2300 premium for the CVT, or $40,790 for the auto-only Luxury, the 2013 CR-Z is available in one spec, based closer to the Luxury model, at $38,490 for the manual and $40,790 for the auto.

The West Australian

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