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The 2011 Honda CR-Z: Hybrid 2-Seat Sports Car

At first glance, you might think it’s obvious what Honda’s trying to do here. The shape of this stubby car, the fact that it arrived just as the S2000 roadster bowed out, and even the new CR-Z’s name all suggest that it’s the legendary CR-X sports hatch returned from the grave and updated for the new millennium.

It’s not, though. Don’t forget that Honda is “not about chasing market share,” as they put it. This company has a strong corporate vision of sustainable performance, in marketing speak. In plain English that means Honda has a good idea of the sort of cars it wants to build, and it’s not driven solely by focus groups or public opinion.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the new CR-Z. The sports car folks are underwhelmed, which could be the kiss of death to any other vehicle with sporting pretensions. Not Honda. The idea behind this car is that it’s a combination of café racer and hybrid. And, indeed, it’s the smallest and least expensive hybrid currently for sale in the U.S.

The design is substantial, masking the car’s small size at first glance. Many have cried blasphemy at the CR-Z’s obvious styling and nomenclature links to the Honda CR-X. The hood and front end are similar to that of the Civic, but a low, narrow grille opening and strong hood lines are more similar to that of the S2000.Extravagant “speed” lines mark the body sides and flow back to an abrupt, almost vertical tail. It’s an extremely aerodynamic design, but it’s intensely sporty as well.

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