As of this writing, Honda is rapidly approaching its Formula 1 comeback as the power behind McLaren at the Australian Grand Prix, and the brand is also busy readying two of Japan's most anticipated sports cars, the and . Now comes news from inside Honda's R&D center in Tochigi that the unloved sports coupe will get a new lease on life in the form of an all-new, more performance-oriented model in three years.
Honda's American arm has been pleading for a gutsy, attractive, and reasonably priced coupe to bolster its brand image, and a source with close ties to the Japanese mothership says the next CR-Z will be the answer. "Remember the CR-Z? It's due to make a big comeback in 2017," we're told.
"The two reasons that forced Honda to phase it out [in Europe and Australia], namely its weak street cred and lack of performance thanks to its ho-hum hybrid power unit, have been addressed. The new coupe will be a force to reckon with," insists our source.
The original model was based on a modified version of the Fit platform, but unlike , with its centrally located fuel tank, the CR-Z's tank was repositioned at the rear. To keep costs down, the new CR-Z's platform will be borrowed from the next-generation Civic, but with four inches chopped from the wheelbase.
Expected to be marginally bigger than the current CR-Z, the new model will borrow design cues from the new NSX and the Civic Type R. Under the hood will be a detuned version of the Type R's turbocharged, 2.0-liter VTEC four-cylinder pumping out more than 280 horsepower. In fact, it looks as if the CR-Z will be positioned and marketed as a high-performance coupe version of the next-generation U.S. Civic, which means it may be called the Civic CR-Z.
While the U.S. version will be fitted with the 2.0-liter engine, Honda is planning to revisit the hybrid for the Japanese domestic market; that edition will employ a turbocharged 1.5-liter hybrid i-DCD powertrain generating upwards of 200 horsepower and incorporating an eight-speed automatic transmission.
While it's still some way out, we understand a CR-Z prototype or concept car may surface at the 2017 Detroit show in advance of an on-sale date sometime in early 2018.