On paper, the Honda CR-Z should be a hit. The small hatchback coupe offers hybrid technology combined with a fun-to-drive factor unavailable on any other fuel economy-focused car. But the Honda CR-Z has fallen flat due to so-so MPG numbers and a lack of horsepower.

The 2013 Honda CR-Z is looking to boost its performance credentials with more power and a new “boost” button…but is it enough?

The outgoing 2012 Honda CR-Z made due with just 112 horsepower from its 1.5 liter engine and 13 horsepower from its electric motor for a combined output of 125 horsepower. That is unimpressive to put it mildly, especially in a car with such a sporty look and refined suspension.

So naturally, the executives decided that the 2013 Honda CR-Z needed more power. I’m down with that, but it doesn’t seem as though Honda went far enough. For 2013, the Honda CR-Z gets a 7 horsepower bump from the 1.5 liter engine, and an extra 7 horsepower from the electric motor. Honda’s engineers got there by refining the variable valve timing and engine management system.

The electric motor was upgraded to provide a full 20 horsepower and 58 ft-lbs of torque, which combined with the engine improvements brings the 0-60 mph time down to about 9 seconds flat. The nickel-hydride batteries were replaced with lighter, more powerful lithium-ion batteries. This battery upgrade also enabled Honda to add a new power boost system they call Plus Sport, or S+. The S+ button delivers an extra burst of power for up to 10 seconds, provided the new battery pack is more than 50% charged.

These improvements certainly nudge the CR-Z in the right direction, but Honda was mum on details regarding fuel economy. The Honda CR-Z delivers decent, but hardly awe-inspiring fuel economy numbers of up to 35 city and 39 highway mpg with the CVT automatic transmission. It is even less impressive considering the recent crop of 40 mpg compact cars to hit the market.

Which leads me to wonder…what is Honda’s game here? The CR-Z still doesn’t have enough factory horsepower to be considered a true “hot hatch”, yet the fuel economy numbers remain untouched. Besides a few other exterior enhancements including a better looking grille, the 2013 Honda CR-Z is pretty much more of the same. Keep in mind, these changes are mostly for the European market; anything could change once the 2013 Honda CR-Z comes to America. But this is more than likely what we’ll be getting to.

Honda needs to stop trying to make the CR-Z appeal to everyone and just pick a path; is it a stylish-yet-functional hybrid coupe? Or is it a sporty-and-zippy hot hatch?

Source: Honda