Back in December, Matthew Guy penned an interesting QOTD post soliciting your picks for the most outrageous new car introduction. In the case of the new-for-1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Bob Lutz drove Chrysler’s new (and important) SUV up a set of stairs at Cobo Hall and through a plate glass window. History revealed the hype to be justified: the Grand Cherokee became an instant success, finding its way into suburban middle-class driveways across America.
Sometimes, though, the new productÂ doesn’t live up to the manufacturer’s hype before introduction. Let’s talk disappointment.
Hold on, that’s not the disappointing bit â€” it’s the thing thatÂ createdÂ the subsequent disappointment years later. As your heart rate settles back down, let me explain. Honda wanted to bring a new sporty car to the market for 2011.
The idea behind said new vehicle was very promising, and very simple. Honda wanted to resurrect the ever-desirable CR-X (1984-1991) into a brand new two-seat hatchback. The key characteristics from the original CR-X were on order for this new vehicle. Honda’s CEO himself said the newÂ CR-Z was to be sporty, incredibly efficient, and inexpensive.
Displayed all the way back in 2007 at the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda was keen to explain that CR-Z stood for “Compact Renaissance Zero.” The Renaissance part was capturing the spirit of the original CR-X. The concept looked promising.
What was delivered for the 2011 model year was not. A 1.5-liter inline-four engine and an electric motor powered the (hybrid only) CR-Z, making a combined 122 horsepower. Though it was small, the hatchback weighed 2,670 pounds with a manual transmission. For reference, the second generation CR-X Si weighed 2,103 pounds, and had a 1.6-liter VTEC engine producing 108 horsepower.
Paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT, the CR-Z qualified as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV), managing a 31 mpg/37 mpg fuel economy rating when equipped with the manual. Marginal efficiency for a hybrid.
The inexpensive part was sort of forgotten, too. The CR-Z cost between $19,000 and around $24,000 in 2011, where the CR-X Si topped out at $11,000 in 1991 ($20,146 inflation adjusted).
And that most important quality, the “sporty?” Well, it wasn’t really there. Media outlets were generally unimpressed with how the CR-Z drove. Car and Driver reported the CR-Z was “…not terribly fun to drive,” and cited the Accord Hybrid’s superior fuel economy and much larger size.
Public opinion matched the car mags, and the CR-Z was short-lived â€” killed off after the 2016 model year to make room for the upcoming Clarity and Accord Hybrid models.
What’s your pick for a new car which just didn’t live up to the OEM hype?
[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda]