The Honda CR-Z has officially joined our all-encompassing, current-model passenger-car list that is the New Car Guide, and while it's been three years since this sports hybrid was first introduced elsewhere, there's no better time than the present to launch it on our shores.
Wait--actually, a better time is when the Alternative Fuel Vehicles Incentives Act has finally been passed into law, but our lawmakers are currently too busy with other things, some of which are not even governance-related.
The good news is that Honda Cars Philippines has even lowered the official pricing of the CR-Z from the indicative pricing the company released in April:
Standard (manual): P1.39 million (from P1.4 million)
Standard (CVT): P1.48 million (from P1.5 million)
Modulo (manual): P1.47 million (from P1.5 million)
Modulo (CVT): P1.56 million (from P1.6 million)
Mugen (manual): P1.86 million (from P2.0 million)
Mugen (CVT): P1.95 million (from P2.1 million)
The CR-Z we're getting is the face-lifted model for 2013, and eagle-eyed observers will notice the front fascia and the rear bumper among the minor cosmetic tweaks. More significant, however, are the upgrades to the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) powertrain, whose output is now up by 13hp and 16Nm compared to the initially launched version. The higher power and torque figures have been brought about partly by minor fixes for the 1.5-liter SOHC in-line-four, and partly by the change from a nickel-metal-hydride to a lithium-ion battery.
Maximum IMA figures for the CVT variants are 133hp and 171Nm; the six-speed manual variants have slightly better numbers at 134hp and 190Nm. Standard across the range is a three-mode drive system that features Normal, Econ and Sport modes.
Another significant addition to the 2013 model is the Plus Sport system, which has in turn led to the appearance of a blue S+ boost button (yes, boost button) on the CR-Z's leather-wrapped steering wheel. Whenever the battery has over 50% charge, the S+ activation prompt appears on the IMA display. It won't provide a powerful, neck-snapping surge, but the boost is reasonably perceptible and the activation is very trippy.
On top of standard kit like projector-type headlamps, automatic climate controls, a full complement of airbags, and keyless entry, the Modulo variants get aero pieces like a ducktail rear spoiler and a carbon-fiber-finish underspoiler. The range-topping Mugen variants throw in even more specialty bits from the Honda tuner, including a different front grille and rims, LED daytime running lights, carbon-fiber side-mirror covers, a tweaked exhaust system, and an enormous rear wing.
With this car launch, we officially declare that Honda is a fun brand again.