Honda Malaysia earlier this evening launched the CR-Z, making Malaysia the first country in Southeast Asia to offer the three-door hybrid hatch to car enthusiasts. The third Honda hybrid to be introduced in the country is priced at RM115,000 on the dot, on-the-road with insurance (or if you will, RM111,878, without insurance).

The “hot-hatch hybrid,” as the company has tagged it, is powered by a 114 PS and 145 Nm 1.5 litre LEA SOHC i-VTEC engine and a 10 kW (or 14 PS) and 78 Nm MF6 brushless DC electric motor and a sophisticated Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) – together, the powertrain combination delivers 124 PS at 6,000 rpm and 174 Nm of torque at 1,000 to 1,500 rpm.

The IMA Hybrid System is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, which is the standard transmission for the car, with a Hill-Start Assist function present. The vehicle also features a 3-Mode Drive System, which enables the driver to choose and switch between Sport, Normal and Economy modes with the switch of an individual button.

The three modes alter the response of the throttle, steering, idle stop timing, climate control and the level of assistance provided by the IMA Hybrid System, and the individual modes are also indicated on the Illuminated Advance Sports Meter as glowing coloured rings of light. In Sport mode, you get – as expected – improved acceleration response, and steering feedback is tighter; in this mode, the light on the meter goes red.

Normal mode of course provides the optimum balance between driving performance and fuel economy, with an EPS response that’s balanced, smooth and agile. Switching to Econ mode, as it’s called, reduces throttle response, optimises motor assist, controls the air conditioning economically and lengthens idle stops to maximise fuel efficiency.

In Normal and Econ mode, the glowing coloured rings of light in the meter display changes from blue to blue-green to green depending on the driver’s style of driving; green, of course signifies the most fuel efficient driving.

Equipment on the 1,160 kg vehicle includes halogen headlamps with LED positioning lights, front fog lamps, a three-spoke leather steering wheel, cruise control, a six-speaker audio system with USB and an auxiliary input, rear foldable seats (which really are jump seats at best – there’s enough space to get in for an adult, but you can’t sit up straight!) and a glovebox cooler, among others. Folding down the rear seat back translates into 410 litres of boot space, which allows space for two golf bags.

On the safety front, the car comes equipped with dual front airbags, side airbags with Occupant Position Detection System and side curtain airbags. There’s ABS, BA and EBD as well as Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) in the mix too.

The CR-Z rides on 16-inch five twin-spoke alloys, wrapped with 195/55 series rubbers. At point of launch, there’s only a single external colour for the car, which is Premium White Pearl, but expect other shades to join the palette list soon – we hear that red, black and silver will come about as it goes along. And yes, you can also expect an auto CVT-equipped version to arrive on the scene sometime next year, but no word yet exactly when.