In the end, it was a Cinderella story too good to be true. Oakville’s own James Hinchcliffe battled back from a life-threatening injury to take the pole position at the 100th running of the Indy 500. Last year, a piece of his car’s suspension jammed into his upper thigh, puncturing his femoral artery; this year, he was leading the pack at one of the longest-running speed contests in history. We all wanted him to win, and the contest looked close.

But sadly, Hinchcliffe and his Honda finished seventh, knocked off the podium by pit strategy. Hinch’s driving was podium quality, but luck wasn’t with him. Sometimes racing’s like that. He’s still our favourite.

I listened to the ebb and flow of Hinchcliffe’s while driving around in another Honda fairy-tale that hasn’t quite worked out the way it could have: the slow-selling CR-Z. What an odd little car. Was anyone asking this question?

Judging from the to-date sales results, they weren’t. The CR-Z’s sales results in Canada are so bad as to be hilarious: just 14 cars have been sold and delivered since the beginning of the year. Oddly, sales are much stronger south of the border, even considering the bigger population. There, several hundred CR-Zs have found new homes, although it’s still outsold by rare beasts like the Hyundai Equus.

Manual transmission sales are in decline – the CR-Z is available with a stick. Hybrid sales are wilting as gasoline gets cheaper – the CR-Z is a hybrid, and a mild hybrid to boot. People like crossovers for practicality – the CR-Z is a two-seater only.

As such, I approached this little car with a certain amount of ennui. Or, as the kids say, Meh. Who cares? Who’s even gonna read about a car that no-one wants to buy? Maybe I should just quit after six paragraphs and the editors won’t even notice. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, velit urna arcu lacinia integer, at posuere, sed mauris. Eu id magna, netus dolor. Mattis dis aliquam sodales nullam suspendisse semper, donec nulla ut quis. Blah blah blah. Three stars.

[Nice try, McAleer – Ed.]

Drat.

“Gentlemen, start your engines.” Well, all right then. With a prod of the standard push-button starter, the CR-Z’s little 1.5L four-pot bursts to fizzy life. With an easy off thanks to the added torque of the electric engine, off we roll in search of ducks.

You want weird? Okay then: I’m doing to drive this thing to a bird sanctuary while listening to lunatics go three wide into corners at 200 mph at the world’s oldest circuit race. Conservation, and high speed battle; the environment, and knife-edge handling on the limit; chalk, as the British say, and cheese.

It’s been a while since I’ve even seen a CR-Z, with so few of them on the roads, and a brief glance reveals some forgotten likeability. It looks a bit like a toddler’s shoe, if the toddler in question was also a giant Japanese space robot. New front bumpers and 17-inch alloys complete the look for a bit of stylish futurism. You can also only get it in this colour combo.

Trip down memory lane: 2011 Honda CR-Z Test Drive

Inside, the CR-Z instrument cluster puts me in mind of that of an Aston-Martin Lagonda. It’s the same ahead-of-its-time-at-the-time mix of plastic-screened displays and buttons and knobs everywhere. What’s this “S+” button do? And where’s the temperature readout for the climate control? One update for 2016 is a seven-inch touchscreen system. It works fairly well but is a little slower and lower-tech than that present in the current Civic.

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