Honda readies sporty new hybrid

Hybrids have carved out quite a niche for themselves among environmentally-aware buyers but don't really appeal to the enthusiasts.

That could be about to change because Honda has decided to press ahead and put into production a new hybrid coupe based on the CR-Z design study it displayed at the Tokyo motor show in 2007. If the CR-Z's dramatic styling is carried across to the production version, it could tap new groups of customers who wouldn't normally be tempted by a sensible Toyota Prius or Honda Insight.

In truth, the reputation hybrid cars have acquired as miserable hair-shirt specials that are dull to drive isn't entirely deserved. Toyota's large Lexus GS and LS saloons, for example, are real hot-rods in hybrid form; the additional shove provided by these cars' electric motors under hard acceleration gives them a turn of speed that belies their rather drab appearance.

The production version of the CR-Z will go on sale in Japan in February 2010. It will also come to the UK where it will be sold alongside Honda's existing Civic and Insight hybrids – further details will be released later this year.