2011 Honda CR-Z. Click image to enlarge
The temptation from tuners is to put a Civic Si engine under the hood, or to turbocharge the IMA. But as a hybrid vehicle with a small displacement engine, the CR-Z has to focus on fuel consumption and emissions more than would a conventionally powered car. To this end, the comprehensive instrument panel includes a trip computer that displays your average and current fuel consumption, and the digital speedometer/analog tachometer surround changes from blue to green as fuel economy is improved.
From a practical perspective, it would be nice to have a little more cargo room. The floor behind the seats covers a spare tire and jack, and if that was substituted for space-saving emergency kit, then the rear floor could be conceivably be lowered, thus providing more storage. Concept versions had this car fitted with a small rear seat, so room is available.
Rear outward visibility is compromised by the large pillars, and the horizontal panel that separates the glass in the rear hatch. You get used to it, but it’s not optimal. And it’s a little noisy in the CR-Z on certain surfaces. Maybe it’s the tires; maybe the insulation, but it can be noticeable.
Fuel economy is really good. The CR-Z manual has the fourth best fuel economy in its class, while the automatic is number one. I got 600 km out of a tank of regular gasoline, highway driving at a steady 115 km/h (6.0 L/100 km). Given that this is a 40-litre tank, and given that filling it took 36 litre, this is truly commendable. But you might remember that the original Honda Insight got 3.9L/100 km, and that really is awesome.
That was a compromise, too. While the original Insight was anaemic with amazing fuel economy, this CR-Z can deliver sporty handling and class-leading fuel economy. Maybe consider the automatic (CVT) CR-Z if you want to maximize the fuel numbers, but either way, you’re not going to consume a lot of fuel.
The “auto stop” technology takes getting used to in the manual transmission model. The idea is that the engine shuts down when you are waiting at a stoplight, or in stop-and-go traffic, but with the six-speed manual transmission, you must shift into neutral for the auto-stop to work (which only makes sense), If you’re stopped at an intersection with your foot on the clutch, and the car in gear (as many have been taught to do) then the CR-Z will never auto-stop. It’s simpler with the CVT transmission.
Finally, in Canada there are only three colours: blue, grey, white. What’s up with that?
My experience with the CR-Z was that the more I drove it, the more enjoyable it became. It’s a great city commuter, but the seats are comfortable and supportive enough for a long trip. True, there are many cars from which to choose at this price point, but this is an engagingly technical vehicle that manages to be both functional and entertaining.
Many consumers may find that the CR-Z has enough of everything they need, in an overall package that delivers more than they expect.
Pricing: 2011 Honda CR-Z
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Crash test results