After many concepts showing us how the design of this new compact has been slowly refined over time, we finally see the production version of the new Honda CR-Z unveiled as a 2011 model year car at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.

From what I can tell the CR-Z is a two-seater and it is powered by a sole engine option – a 1.5 litre i-VTEC engine mated to an IMA electric motor. Honda says this is the first hybrid car designed with style and fun taken into consideration as well as efficiency and economy. That is why other than a CVT that you usually see with Honda’s IMA system, you also get the standard option of a 6-speed manual!

Even if you can’t be bothered with a clutch, you can swap cogs with paddle shifts and when in Sport mode, the transmission is programmed to stay within a certain gear even if you hit the rev limiter, which means you will bounce off the limiter instead of the CVT automatically upshifting on its own. This is the preferred ‘sports mode’ behaviour for many.

The 1.5 litre hybrid system’s peak output is 122 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 173Nm of torque from between 1,000rpm to 1,500rpm. This is of course the peak torque that is achieved only when the IMA motor kicks in to boost acceleration, but it’s still very very nice torque figures from just a thousand revolutions! Should be quite fun! The IMA motor is rated at 14 PS and 78Nm and is powered by a 100V IMA nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The system also has brake energy regeneration and auto start-stop.

The production CR-Z has a three-mode drive system that allows the driver to switch between Sport, Normal and Economy driving modes. You can choose between these modes via three backlit buttons to the left of the steering wheel (presumably to the right in a right hand drive car). Sports mode is as its namesake – sportier throttle response, EPS steering weight and how often the IMA motor kicks in to assist with power.

In addition, the RPM meter inner ring changes its illumination to red. In Economy mode, this inner ring changes between blue and green depending on how efficient your driving is – you know you’re driving fuel efficiently when the ring turns green. Normal mode has a similiar behaviour, but with a more balanced setting instead of a full eco-friendly mode.

What we see here is the American version but the blue-ish European version shown above will also feature daytime running lights with 8 LEDs running across the edges of the two headlamps.

The chassis sits on MacPherson struts at the front and a H-shaped torsion beam at the rear. Compared to the Insight, the CR-Z has a 115 mm shorter wheelbase and is 295mm shorter in overall body length. Standard wheels are 16×6 inchers wrapped with 195/55R16 tyres but optional are 17×7 inch wheels with larger 205/45R17 tyres. There is ABS as standard, with disc brakes at all four wheels.

No prices yet though! View a full hi-res gallery after the jump.

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