2013 Honda CR-Z
2013 Honda CR-Z
2013 Honda CR-Z. Click image to enlarge

Review and photographs by Steven Bochenek

Is there a dichotomy between sporty driving and environmentalism? You can derive up to 25 percent savings in gasoline with a few sensible changes to your driving. Just as importantly, you can speed global warming by driving even the most ascetic green car foolishly.

When the CR-Z first arrived in 2010, I was gobsmacked. Not only was it the first hybrid I’d driven with a stick shift – gearheads can be hippies too – it was also the first hybrid that didn’t leave me cold in the performance department. And, perhaps most surprisingly, it was affordable! Until very recently a hybrid logo was the modern version of a papal indulgence, get-out-of-hell passes sold by the medieval Catholic Church, effectively relegating environmental virtue to the wealthy.

With such an opening how could Honda maintain the momentum? Okay, maybe not sales momentum since it had none. But how about sprightly, conscientious fun?

Hard work. The 2013 CR-Z comes with plenty of new features. One of those was not an inflated price. It’s still available for under $25,000. Dollar for dollar, it’s a lot of fun – and you get to wear that eco-warrior’s badge. So, as I may have said in the past, you can have your environmental cake and burn it too.

So what is new if not the price?

The S+ button is a great Spinal Tap feature. That is, even if you’re already in Sport mode, (aka “the volume’s at 10, so you’ve nowhere to go”) but you need a boost – the Plus Sport system injects extra power for up to five seconds. It goes to 11, even in Normal and Econ drive modes. [A road car with Push to Pass? See, IndyCar tech does filter down… –Ed.]

The side mirrors contain several useful updates for safety and convenience. Firstly the turn indicator lights are built in, making you that much more visible. At 1,395 mm high, you’re well above the greatly missed Mazda Miata territory but a long way from soccer-mom vision. The driver’s side mirror has an expanded viewing angle. It takes some getting used to and doesn’t replace the shoulder check (nothing does) but soon becomes indispensable. The mirrors also fold. Cool! The CR-Z is only 1,740 mm wide but this car is made for the city. Any advantages you can get to squeeze between jerks are welcome.

2013 Honda CR-Z2013 Honda CR-Z2013 Honda CR-Z
2013 Honda CR-Z. Click image to enlarge

The rear-view camera is also new, and its monitor fits tidily in the auto-dimming rear-view mirror. The LED daytime running lights are also new and there is more power in the 2013 engine, but we’ll get to that soon.

That’s all standard with purchase. The Premium Package (which this tester did not have and will take you well over $25,000) has new 17-inch alloy wheels with special summer tires, yellow accents on the otherwise solid black interior and blue LED brake lights. Plus the folding mirrors are heated.

But for the cloth seats, I didn’t mind not having the Premium Package in the least. You won’t feel cheap with the base model and kudos to Honda for putting reviewers in it rather than trying to blind or bling us with science.

Meanwhile, the 2013 Honda CR-Z retains its best design elements.

The rear of the roof is window, providing greater viewing and allowing light for a spacious feeling. It also has its own wiper, which seemed unnecessary upon pickup but proved its worth during a sudden summer gale.

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