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We’re reporting live from Setia City Convention Centre in Setia Alam, where Honda Malaysia has launched the Honda CR-Z facelift in the country. The hybrid hatchback arrives here the same month it does in Indonesia, which was earlier reported to be the second market to sell the revamped car after Japan (does that make us third then?).

The reworked Honda CR-Z made its world debut at the Indonesian International Motor Show last September, a surprise move that caught everyone off-guard – the car was supposed to premiere in Paris a week later – but gave us the opportunity to break the news globally, the very first English-language automotive publication to do so.

Exterior enhancements to the new car come in the form of a new front bumper and grille, enhanced DRLs, new HID headlamps and rear LED combination lamps and a new rear diffuser. The Indonesian debut vehicle wore a new 17-inch alloy wheel, which the Malaysian car doesn’t get – it retains the familiar 16-inchers, wrapped with 195/55 rubbers.

Inside, the two-tone black and red-themed cabin gets new sport seats with combination fabric-leather and red accents/stitching, and red stitching can also be found on the steering wheel and gear knob. The door cards also feature red panelling for contrast.

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The 3-Mode Drive System, which allows the driver to switch the mode between Normal, Sport and Econ operation, continues unchanged. Output is up, the 1.5 litre i-VTEC engine on the updated car offering 120 PS at 6,600 rpm and 145 Nm at 4,800 rpm for the six-speed manual (118 PS and 144 Nm for the CVT, same rpm).

Meanwhile, the IMA motor on the Honda CR-Z facelift now offers 20 PS at 2,000 rpm (up from 14 PS currently) and 78 Nm at 1,000 rpm. Other revisions to the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) Hybrid System in the car include a new 144-volt, 18.8 kW lithium-ion battery, which replaces the NiMh one found in the pre-facelift.

The new 40-cell (3.6 volts per cell) square-sized battery offers 44% more voltage as well as 44% more power, but without the weight and size penalty – it’s three percent smaller and weighs the same as the 100-volt, 84 cell cylinder-shaped NiMh unit.

The combined output from the IMA hybrid system is 136 PS at 6,600 rpm and 190 Nm between 1,000 rpm to 2,000 rpm, a jump of 12 PS and 16 Nm over the pre-facelift (the outgoing car has 124 PS and 174 Nm). That’s for the manual. For the CVT, it’s 135 PS at 6,600 rpm and 172 Nm from 1,000 rpm to 3,000 rpm.

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Performance figures include a 0-100 km/h time of 9.0 seconds (9.7 sec on current car) and a top speed of 200 km/h. Elsewhere, the CVT variant gets a new oil temperature/pressure sensor, while the manual CR-Z features a bigger clutch, presumably to cope with the increased output.

Aside from the above, the facelift features a new Plus Sport System, where the engine and motor offers a more performance-oriented response, switchable through a S+ button. Press it, and you get all the available power the car can muster.

The battery charge level has to be at a four-bar minimum – any less and the system is unavailable. When available, a ‘S+ Ready’ indicator lights up on top of the battery meter display. Operation is accelerator pedal dependent, as a brief run with the facelifted CR-Z at Tochigi late last year showed. The moment you back off on the throttle, the system disengages and reverts back to normal output.

Honda says the system offers an acceleration feeling like a V6 3.0 litre engine. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that’s really the case, but there’s decent pep. Limited to battery capacity and thus available for a moderate time under full load, it’s great for overtaking and short bursts.

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Safety kit for the car includes dual front airbags as well as side airbags with OPDS (occupant position detection sensor) and side curtain airbags, ABS, EBD, brake assist, VSA, rear Isofix points and active headrests.

As for colours, four are available here, Premium White Pearl, Milano Red, Polished Metal Metallic and one of the two new shades introduced for the vehicle, Premium Northern Lights Violet, which was worn by the Paris show car. The Premium Energetic Yellow Pearl as seen on the debutant in Indonesia doesn’t make it here, nor does the black.

Both six-speed manual and seven-speed CVT with paddle shift variants are being introduced at the same time – the manual CR-Z goes for RM119,000, while the auto version goes for RM123,000, both on-the-road with insurance.

The facelifted CR-Z now comes with a five-year warranty with unlimited mileage, and this includes the IMA battery as well. To entice customers to maintain their vehicles according to schedule, Honda Malaysia is offering a new free service package comprising up to six free labour services, alternating with paid services until 100,000 km.