Honda CR-Z review
Garry Fabian has filed this Honda CR-Z review.
Can a hybrid car also be a sporty car? The answer: It depends on what your expectations are when it comes to hybrid fuel efficiency, and how you define sporty.
Enter Honda’s two-seat 2012 CR-Z which carries over unchanged since being introduced last year.
The CR-Z strives to be both sporty and a hybrid. The result is a middling achievement of each.
On the hybrid side, others trump Honda’s semi-electric approach to hybrid technology when it comes to fuel economy, but the CR-Z with an automatic transmission falls in line with good economy.
While it is described as a two seater, there are minimal seats at the back, provided with seat belts, but hardly any leg room.
If a car’s styling is part of the definition of sporty, then the CR-Z certainly gets high marks.
If fast is included in the equation, then a 0 to 100km/h time of 8.5 seconds falls a little short.
Perhaps handling is a more important ingredient for a sporty car than speed, and this is where the CR-Z becomes entertaining and the fun factor of driving is evident.
The CR-Z employs the sixth-generation parallel hybrid system that Honda calls Integrated Motor Assist (IMA).
Like other hybrid vehicles, the CR-Z shuts off the engine when the car comes to a stop, and then fires up again when it’s time to go.
The primary power source is a 1.5-litre, four cylinder, 16-valve engine that features Honda’s i-VTEC, a computer controlled variable valve timing and lift system that improves fuel economy and reduces exhaust emissions.
The four has a peak output of 91 kW and 174 NM.
Two transmissions are available, a standard six-speed manual – the only hybrid with three pedals – and a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Drivers who want a manual experience with the CVT can have it, courtesy of shift paddles on the steering wheel.
There are seven fixed speed ratios that mimic a manual shifter, and up or down shifts are executed quite quickly.
Of note, like a manual transmission, the CVT will stay in the selected gear, a nice sporty touch.
Completing the IMA system is a 100.8-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack and all of the controls to operate the system.
Located beneath the cargo area, the battery pack stores electricity generated during regenerative braking and sends power to the electric motor when it assists the engine.
There are three driver-selected operation modes for the power train: Sport, Normal and Econ.
The Econ mode is the most fuel efficient.
It limits the engine’s power and torque while relying more on battery power, and tones down air conditioning effort resulting in laggard forward progress.
Selecting the Sport system quickens throttle input response, adds more electric power and tightens up steering effort.
On start-up, Normal is the default setting and the car operates, well, normally.
The distinctive wedge shape originates from a low-slung hood to form an aggressive forward stance.
An aerodynamic, raked roofline and sharply abrupt rear are reminiscent of the CR-X, but brought up-to-date with modern flowing lines.
The truncated rear, is a design shape that reduces air resistance.
The tail’s low drag helps improve fuel consumption.
The hatchback shape produces noteworthy interior space for a two-seat coupe.
There’s adequate leg and headroom, even for taller occupants, and the driver and passenger are seated in firm, comfortable cloth sports seats.
There’s 25.1 cubic feet of space behind the seats – more than twice the volume of an everyday compact car’s boot.
Small bins behind the seats can hide items like a mobile phone, and a cargo cover keeps larger objects out of sight.
Low slung in stance, a low driving position may not be for everyone, but well-placed pedals and shift lever complement the seat’s positioning.
Rear vision is a little restricted by large support pillars and the horizontal bar that separates the glass in the rear hatch.
The dash layout and styling are in line with the DNA of the car.
The gauge cluster has a three-dimensional, electroluminescent central analogue tachometer with a digital speed display in the centre.
When the driving modes are selected, the ring around the digital speedometer changes colour: green for Econ, blue for Normal and red for Sport.
For fuel-economy minded drivers, a display rewards good behaviour with a growing number of green leaves.
All controls are easy-to-reach, and the switchgear feels substantial and operates with a smooth deliberateness.
Interior fit and finish is quite good, while the quality of the materials is not too cheap looking, they are not luxurious either.
The CR-Z is available in three offerings: Sports manual, sports automatic and for safety, all CR-Z models are equipped with anti-lock disc brakes with brake-force distribution, electronic stability control and a full complement of air-bags, including curtain-style bags.
All this equates to a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
NUTS & BOLTS
Engine: 1.5 litre in-line four cylinder producing 91 kW, 167 Nm. 0-100 8.5 seconds
Transmission: six-speed manual; C-automatic.
Warranty: 3 Years/100,000km, Rust perforation 6 Years, Hybrid Battery 8 Years unlimited kms.
Suspension: front MacPherson struts, rear torsion beam Axle
Economy: 5.2 litres/100km city; 4.3lt/100km highway
Price: Active manual $34,900, Auto $37,290; Luxury $40,790