What is it?
A sporty hybrid coupe. No wait, don’t leave just yet. Honda had such a good start to this hybrid thing with its original Insight coupe, but things went awry with the latest car of the same name. The CR-Z rights that wrong, with more than a hint of the beloved 1980s CR-X coupe helping it along. And while the reality didn’t quite live up to this sporty image, Honda has revised it for 2013 with more power for both engine and electric motor.
First impressions are great: you sit down nice and low, and the driving position is suitably sporting. Once on the move, the CR-Z feels light and agile with good steering. The six-speed manual, a unique feature for a hybrid, is snappy too.
We’ve yet to drive the 2013 car but the boost in power for both its ‘engines’ will go some way to fixing our gripe about its lack of go. No word on whether Honda has improved the 1.5’s buzzy engine note, but there’s added appeal for driving enthusiasts: the revised model comes with a ‘Sport Plus’ button on the steering wheel. Press this and you get 10 seconds’ extra electric motor boost, for some added overtaking oomph. It sounds a bit like an F1-style KERS system and it potentially adds a dose of easier-access performance to the CR-Z. Fixing, in the process, our other gripe, concerning its lack of torque. We hope Honda hasn’t changed the chassis, though: it’s a cracker as it is, ensuring the CR-Z is more fun than its hybrid badging suggests.
On the inside
This is a small car. It is not for people with ‘big bones’, nor is it for carrying people in the rear in what Honda laughably refers to as seats. Once you can live with all that, then the CR-Z’s cabin is a refreshing change from the norm. The low-slung seats position you in front of one of the most sci-fi-looking dashboards outside a concept car, yet despite that it’s clear what’s what and it’s all nicely screwed together. You may as well fold down the rear seats to give it a good-sized boot, too.
This is where the CR-Z comes into its own. On that mythical combined cycle that all the car makers use as a benchmark, the little Honda returns 56.5mpg. Pity that the fuel tank is so small, as you still need to fill it up fairly regularly. Road tax is seriously cheap though, thanks to CO2 emissions of 116g/km with the standard Sport. In this regard, it’s the sports car for penny-pinchers – and in this day and age, is there anything wrong with that? It’s just a pity the prices have risen with the facelift too.