Special Coverage

Geneva
Auto Show

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. debuts the European production version of its CR-Z hybrid-electric sports car today at the Geneva auto show.

The CR-Z, just on sale in Japan, uses Honda’s Integrated Management Assist (IMA) mild hybrid system along with a 1.5L gasoline engine.

Honda says the CR-Z is the first hybrid to use a 6-speed manual transmission, which allows drivers “to exploit the broad spread of torque while maintaining excellent fuel economy,” of 47 mpg (5.0 L/100 km).

As with many hybrids, the CR-Z offers a choice of driving modes that include Sport, Econ and Norm.

The three modes vary throttle and steering responses, stop/start timing, climate-control and the “level of assistance” IMA provides, Honda says.

In addition to a sharper throttle response, the Sport setting also dials in more of the electric motor and increases the weight of the car’s electric power steering.

Econ mode makes fuel economy a priority, while Norm strikes a “balance between performance, economy and emissions and suits most driving situations,” Honda says.

Modes are indicated by the CR-Z’s ambient interior lighting. The speedometer is bathed in red in Sport mode. Blue lighting is used in Norm and Econ. However, the lighting changes to green when the car is driven in a fuel-efficient manner. A green flower also appears when in Econ mode.

The CR-Z goes on sale in Europe in mid-2010, with pricing to be announced this week.

Also on Honda’s Geneva stand is a refreshed CR-V cross/utility vehicle and a new electric-vehicle concept.

Debuting in Geneva is the 3-wheel 3R-C single occupant EV. Honda says it mounted the battery low in the chassis to improve stability.

A canopy pulls double-duty, acting as a cover for the driver’s seat when the vehicle is parked, then changing to an “enveloping windshield” to protect the driver from bad weather when the vehicle is in motion.

A flexible cover to surround a driver’s upper torso also reduces weather exposure and improves comfort, Honda says.

The 3R-C’s seat is described as a “safety shell,” with high sides to mitigate side impact collisions.

Forward of the driver is a lockable storage area suitable for luggage.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com