Honda is trying to recapture the fun and playful nature of the adored CRX with its modern and sporty-looking hybrid CR-Z.
Few people describe hybrids as “sporty,” “fast” or “fun,” but the Honda CR-Z may change many people’s mind. This modern interpretation of a classic commuter car brings joy while driving and when looking at your bank account.
Inspired by the CRX, the CR-Z definitely has a similar style. It does have a more substantial body to meet regulations and to accommodate safety features. It still only seats two passengers, however.
The first feature most notice is the gaping front grille. The rest of the bodylines flow from there, over the steeply angled windshield to the half-glass rear hatch.
Futuristic gauges and readouts differentiate the cabin of the CR-Z from its ancestor. Thankfully, it is still a Honda and the controls are logically placed and easy to use.
The seats are sporty and well bolstered. While comfortable, no leather seat option exists, reminding you the CR-Z is still an economy car.
Drawing the most attention is the CR-Z’s hybrid powertrain. A 15-kw electric motor is sandwiched between the transmission and a 1.5-litre four cylinder. Total output is rated at 130 horsepower.
Though 130 hp in not a lot, max torque delivery is low in the rpm range making the CR-Z feel peppy and passing maneuvers easy.
The Honda CR-Z is the only compact hybrid with the option of a six-speed manual transmission. The other transmission, a CVT, is smooth and more fuel efficient, but the novelty of a proper manual is hard to resist.
Helping the CR-Z feel faster is the Plus Sport system. This adds a button that when pushed gives a quick burst of power to aid with overtaking, like a Honda Indy car.
Mixed with the sophisticated powertrain, the chassis helps to make the CR-Z more fun to drive than most other hybrids. While still tuned for comfort and economy, it feels more planted and playful in corners.
Equipped with Honda’s three-mode drive system, the driver can choose from Econ, Normal and Sport mode. Each distinctly alters throttle response and steering effort with Econ feeling sluggish and Sport more lively.
Another fuel-saving feature is the start/stop system. This shuts the engine off when idle, but it does cause the vehicle to shudder on restart.
The CR-Z is quite well equipped compared to many of its compact-car rivals. Standard features include a multi-information display, a rearview camera, automatic climate control and Bluetooth connectivity.
Stepping up to the premium trim level adds xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, a touchscreen navigation system and a seven-speaker audio system.
Let us know what you think about the Honda CR-Z. Is its blend of fuel economy and fun-to-drive nature appealing to you?