Sunday, February 24, 2013

The question of the 'Hot' CR-Z : the official Honda answer

The 'new' CR-Z, actually the mid-term MMC for the CR-Z was officially launched in Malaysia on February 21st last week. This is actually very fast as the MMC was launched in Japan barely a few months away. When the CR-Z was first launched here, I asked a question to Norio Tomobe-san, the LPL for the CR-Z which it seems was quite widely circulated. I asked him about the rumours of the 'hot' CR-Z which was continously making its rounds especially in the internet and on UK magazines. At that time, he gave me a 'thumbs up' which I took it to mean 'YES' and excitedly reported it. Unfortunately nothing happened at all for more than a year. To be honest, I had more or less gave up and had written Honda off for making a fake promise. 

When the MMC for the CR-Z was launched, I saw that it endowed the CR-Z with 12ps more along with a few other 'performance' upgrades. Suddenly it struck me, that I might have misinterpreted Tomobe-san's answer all along. It seems quite likely that Tomobe-san might well have been thinking about this MMC when he gave me the thumbs up, while I was actually referring to rumours of the CR-Z Type-R and such. 

So during the press conference for this MMC, I decided to ask the same question again. But this time more directly and more bluntly. And this time, instead of publishing my understanding of his answer, I took a video of him answering (and the translator's answer in english) and posted that video up so you can listen to the answer yourself and make your own judgement and interpretation of it. This time, the PA system is quite clear and I hope you can hear the answer much better.

I only video'ed what I will call the 'official Honda answer' to my question. To give you the whole picture, below is roughly the question I asked to Tomobe-san:

Firstly, congratulations to Honda for launching this 'new' CR-Z MMC. It is much needed to help ensure the continued success of the CR-Z here in Malaysia (Asia).

Ever since the CR-Z was launched a few years ago, there have been incessant talks and rumours about a 'hotter' version, a high performance version. A couple of years ago, the U.K. magazines Autocar and Auto Express published articles stating Honda officially confirms that a hot high performance version of the CR-Z is being developed and will be launched soon. Auto Express claims that a CR-Z Type-R will debut at the end of 2011 and as we all know, nothing happened at all. When the CR-Z was launched here in Malaysia, I also asked the same question directly to you, Tomobe-san, to which you also confirmed the rumour. So my question to you now is this : is this 'new' CR-Z MMC that 'hotter version' ? Or NOT ?

The video of Tomobe-san's answer is below. An additional info which is relevant to this answer is that I have been told that as R&D engineers goes, Tomobe-san is very senior in the organization and thus well respected and very influential. So at one time it was suggested to me that whatever Tomobe-san wishes to do, management typically lets him do it.

So do your own interpretation from the video and we welcome you to share and discuss it here.


bigblue said...

Thanks for asking the question. I think that boils down to "maybe they'll let me improve it further eventually".

CRV9 said...

Oh man, the translator speaks Japanehese well, very well.
If they use an Atkinson engine for their next IMA-2 then what they're gonna use for the next CRZ? I forgot to tell you to tell them to make the next CRZ more like the Insight coupe rather, conventional but not so closterfobic and airily. Nobody cares if it looks like the old CRX anymore. They plan to have it till 2020 at least but I don't think Mr. Tomobe is not gonna lead it. He must be old enough to retire soon. So it's up to the next generation engineers' aspiration.

CRV9 said...

One more thinbg, is an Atkinson engine with an E-turbo possible or practical? I know it's technically possible though. Is it practical and will they use it for the next CRZ/Insight coupe? I think it will keep the same or better mpg and get more Hp too, won't it?

Anonymous said...

What they need is a non-hybrid CR-Z with a usable back seat.

TOVA said...

bigblue, the way I interpret the answer it is that he (LPL) will be making a sportier version and based on what I am told, he will be allowed to do it. This is unlike the LPL for the Jazz/Fit for e.g. whose response to my Fit/Jazz SiR/Type-R question was "I like sporty cars and I want to make one but my management won't let me".

CRV9, true, the translator do speak very good japanese ! He's also a senior manager in Honda Malaysia. From what I understand, Tomobe-san will probably be around for a while more so I hope he makes an SiR before he retires.

John (Jago), from the answer, Tomobe-san says on the one hand that he wants a more powerful, higher performance CR-Z but on the other hand, he says he doesn't want it to deviate from its original design objective. And that means whatever he makes, it will definitely be a hybrid...

FiSHChan said...

Well, the way I see it, the more interesting stuff will come not now but in a few more years, if they continue with the hybrid DCT Earth Dreams cars later on. Hybrid is staying so might as well make that work.

I am not going to intepret what he is trying to say, but as I see it - not from his reply but overall the direction of the company- when the tech allows it to both be affordable, efficient and sporty then they (Honda) will do it. Only the matter of "can they?" before the all the hardcore leave and never ever come back. Hopefully that will be answered in the next gen hybrid.

CRV9 said...

TOVA, Tomobe-san started at Honda in 1972 as you said. It was 40 years ago. He must be over 60. And They should have some new young engineer, mid 30's, to lead the project. They usually pick a different one for FMC though.

(ps;p TOV sounds pathetic as ever. I don't know if I could help myself but mocking them if I was there.)

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