Review: 2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid

Honda CR-Z side

Honda CR-Z sideDoes it sound – and look – familiar? Yes, the low slung Honda CRX coupe of the 1980s is back – but with a difference.

This time it is a ‘hot’ hybrid, a street racer with a conscience, according to Honda. Green does not have to be dull, it can come with style and driving appeal. That is the idea of the new CR-Z.

One thing is certain, this is an eye-catcher. The ground-hugging roadster profile with a mini dorsal fin on the roof to add a touch of menace is difficult to ignore. I lost count of the turned heads as I parked in the city centre.

Powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a small electric motor as a booster, the CR-Z is more fun to drive than you might expect from a hybrid. There is an eagerness that comes as a surprise. Steering and handling are also sharp and responsive. What is going on?

By way of a reality check the 0-60mph time of just under 10 seconds is more warm than hot by today’s standards. But it is relatively sharp for a hybrid packed with batteries. It is just so much more enjoyable to drive than the average green machine.

A slick six-speed gearbox helps, as does the well-geared steering. More like a proper car than a hair shirt hybrid, it sits confidently on the road and tackles bends with aplomb. Strong, disc braking is also part of the package.

Honda CR-Z interiorInside, the dashboard is less complicated than some similar machines. But it is not without gimmicks as the main dial changes colour depending on which driving mode you have selected. It shines blue for normal, red for sport and green for eco. If you are being a good driver, little green leaves appear on the display as a ‘reward’.

The planet saving potential is impressive for a sporting coupe. With a combined consumption of 56mpg and emissions of 117g/km the CR-Z is in the lowest tax band and, if you are a Londoner, exempt from the congestion charge.

Of course, these figures are targets that can only be hit if you drive very steadily. Hit the Sport button and give the free-revving engine its head, and you will come nowhere near them. The choice is yours.

In other respects, the CR-Z is a tight little 2+2 coupe. It is quite comfortable in the front but the back seats are cramped, even for larger kids. The boot is bigger than you might expect. The rear styling limits your vision for parking.

Still, these are often the price to be paid for a coupe that is so distinctive and individual.

Priced from just under £17,000 in S-trim, the CR-Z is a pretty unique blend of coupe and hybrid with more driving appeal that you would expect.

SUM UP

ENGINE – 1.5-litre iVTEC petrol engine plus electric motor combine to produce 124PS
PERFORMANCE – 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds, 124mph top speed
ECONOMY – 56mpg combined
EMISSIONS – 117g/km
INSURANCE Group 17/50
PRICE – from £16,999 to £21,749 depending on model


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