CR-Z 1.5 IMA GT Navigation 3-dr Coupe
prove that mainstream model
hybrids not just the executive
high-performance Lexus types
need not be boringly efficient,
Honda have gone sporty and edgy
with their CR-Z 2+2 Coupe...
HONDA ARE ALREADY IN THE PETROL-HYBRID MARKET with their five-door, five-seater
Insight 1.3-litre C-segment hatch (which will find around 5,000 UK customers
this year) and their Civic 1.4-litre four-door family saloon, which will attract
around a 1,000 customers. These sell against the Toyota Prius and the new British-built
Toyota Auris Hybrid. For the record, a Honda Jazz hybrid will be added in 2011.
Prices for Honda's recently-introduced sporty CR-Z hybrid start at £16,999 and
range up to £21,749. There are four levels of trim and equipment: S, Sport,
GT and GT Navigation. The new model has just received a Euro NCAP 5-star safety
rating and Honda expects to see around 3,500 UK sales in a full year.
The CR-Z's distinctive looks ensure it stands out from other affordable 'green'
hybrid cars. It combines an angulated front-end (closely resembling a Honda
Civic) with a crisply edged, dual-window rear hatch (as used for the Insight
hybrid), and displays a wedge-shape side profile. Wide, sharply defined wheelarches
give the CR-Z a muscular stance and at the same time accommodate the wide front
and rear tracks that contribute to its good stability and cornering grip.
there is a price to be paid for the eye-catching looks: rear-quarter and rear
visibility are both very poor. The good news is that thanks to the agile chassis,
good driving dynamics, direct steering and a low driving position, the CR-Z
hybrid is fun to drive. The six-speed sports gearbox features a short-throw
change and the electric motor element brings a very useful boost of torque in
the low to mid range much more than could be expected from a conventional
1.5-litre, normally aspirated petrol engine.
Thanks to the agile
chassis, good driving
dynamics, direct steering
and a low driving
position, the CR-Z Hybrid
is fun to drive...
Generally speaking, non-executive hybrids with their CVT auto transmissions
are most at home in urban environments; the CR-Z, however, is quite capable
of coping with the cut and thrust of driving on motorways and busy country roads.
Expect city and town dwellers to be the early adopters, especially Londoners
or commuters into the capital, because as a hybrid it is currently exempt from
the Congestion Charge. But that might change next year when it is likely the
charges will be based purely on CO2 emissions rather than the engine under the
Whether the CR-Z owner is a retail buyer wanting the latest technology wrapped
up in a sporty looking bodyshell, an environmentally concerned motorist or the
business driver promoting their company's green credentials, the low-ish 117g/km
exhaust emissions mean cheaper road tax, £0 for the new VED First Year rate
and then £30 a year thereafter. Company car users will also enjoy the 10 per
cent Benefit-in-Kind tax levy.
The CR-Z uses a 1.5-litre petrol unit, taken from the American versions of Jazz
in conjunction with a six-speed manual gearbox. There is not a CVT auto option
as with other hybrids. Honda says this is to give the new model a sportier driving
feel as well as extra performance. Top speed is a very respectable 124mph, 0-62mph
takes 9.9 seconds and the official Combined Cycle fuel economy is 56.5mpg.
an earlier but quite brief first test drive at the introduction
of the CR-Z on Millbrook Proving Ground's City Route, the CR-Z returned 42.8mpg;
that test included plenty of stop-start driving fully utilizing the Coupe's
standard-fit Stop/Start system. But, unlike some other hybrids, the CR-Z has
no selectable electric-drive-only mode so the vehicle cannot be used in a zero
emissions city zone.
In Econ mode, driving in
a realistic and sensible
manner while keeping up
with the traffic,
the consumption was
56.8mpg a shade
better than the official
In Norm mode, the figure
was 48.7mpg; and
in Sport, 44.7mpg...
I have had another chance to drive the CR-Z 2+2 Coupe GT, this time on public
roads. Real-life fuel economy figures are critical for all drivers; especially
so for would-be hybrid owners who are likely to be buying on the grounds of
economy. My CR-Z results are as follows: in Econ mode, driving in a realistic
and sensible manner while keeping up with the traffic, the consumption was 56.8mpg
a shade better than the official figure. In Norm mode, the figure was
48.7mpg; and in Sport mode, 44.7mpg.
But these figures are no better than a new-generation 1.6-litre turbodiesel
engine and, in many cases, the diesel unit will deliver lower CO2 emissions
and better mpg. Take for instance the Volvo C30 DRIVe three-door Coupe, priced
from £17,690 its official Combined Cycle fuel consumption is 74.3mpg
with CO2 emissions of just 99g/km and a 13% Benefit-in-Kind tax rate.
Then there's the new 1.6 TDI engine in Volkswagen's less sporty looking but
far roomier Golf BlueMotion three-door hatch. It, too, offers 74.3mpg with CO2
emissions of 99g/km and BIK tax at 13% and it costs £18,100.
Both the C30 and the Golf are better than the CR-Z for fuel economy and CO2
emissions and both cost less to buy. There are also new-generation direct injection
petrol engines which have closed the gap in the advantage that petrol-hybrids
had over conventional engines in terms of fuel economy and emissions.
Going the hybrid route needs significant thought there are other less
radical ways to reduce your motoring costs and vehicle emissions by opting for
the latest generation petrol and diesel engines.
For the technically-minded, the CR-Z uses a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine
linked with an electric motor using Honda's proven IMA hybrid technology including
energy capture. The engine produces 112bhp at 6,100rpm; the electric motor 13bhp
at 1,500rpm. Total peak power available is 122bhp at 6,100rpm.
for torque, the 'grunt' that makes the car responsive, the petrol engine has
106lb ft at 4,800rpm and the electric motor 57lb ft from just 1,000rpm giving
a total peak useable torque of 128lb ft at 1,500rpm.
power delivery is
pretty seamless and
with a manual gearbox
there isnt the usual
where the CVT
power and makes
the engine seem dull,
lifeless and noisy...
is this torque that swiftly moves the CR-Z from standstill and helps during
overtaking at low to medium speeds. The power delivery is pretty seamless and
with a manual gearbox there isn't the normal hybrid issue where the CVT transmission
absorbs power and makes the engine seem dull, lifeless and noisy.
The CR-Z driver has the choice of three driving modes selected by push buttons.
All three are self explanatory: Sport, Econ and Norm. There is also an Eco Assist
driving guidance setting which is used in Econ mode where the space-age controls
show the driver, through changing instrument colours, whether or not they are
If you are attracted by the sporting good looks of the CR-Z, you will be impressed
even more by the 'Starship Enterprise' control and instrument display. It takes
time to learn, but it all works. The CR-Z has more driving character than other
current family-sized hybrids and its looks and feels sporty. And you do get
usable boot space: 215 to 389 litres.
Specification is high for all models and the GT Navigation version had all the
'goodies' I would expect. They include a navigation system, climate control
air conditioning, cruise control, panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, alloy
pedals, a good sound system, integrated Bluetooth hands-free system, front,
side and curtain airbags, on-board computer, electrically-operated door mirrors
and windows and folding rear seats.
On the plus side you get eye-catching sporty exterior styling that's even better
inside a real Starship Enterprise instrument layout. It's also fun to
drive and agile with sure-footed handling and livens up the dull image of hybrids.
Downsides include very limited rear seat legroom, poor rear and rear-quarter
visibility and significant road noise intrusion. Economy-minded motorists should
be aware that some new-generation diesel-powered models offer less CO2 emissions
and significantly better mpg; and they cost less to buy. David Miles
Honda CR-Z 1.5 IMA GT Navigation 3-dr Coupe | £21,749
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds | Overall test MPG: 49.8mpg
Power: 122bhp | Torque: 128lb ft | CO2 117g/km