"With a hi-tech hybrid engine and sporty set-up, the CR-Z attempts to offer driving thrills and with low running costs."
As fuel-prices are on the up, it's becoming harder to find genuine driving thrills on a budget. But Honda thinks it has the answer. The CR-Z is based on the Honda Insight, but it uses a combination of 1.5-litre engine and electric motor for a total power figure of 135bhp. That figure isn’t particularly impressive, but the CR-Z shines in corners, helping it to earn its title as the world's first hybrid sports car.
With a 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds in GT models, performance isn't exactly blistering, but for many drivers it may prove to be enough. There are three selectable driving modes on offer in the CR-Z, including 'Eco', 'Sport' and 'Normal', with the first of these three claiming to improve fuel economy by up to 10%. It does mean that the Honda feels much slower than when left in 'Normal' mode though. 'Sport' is the most exciting mode and the engine responds much more quickly to throttle inputs. As of early 2013, models get an ‘S+’ button that provides even better acceleration for up to 10 seconds. The six-speed manual gearbox is accurate and feels very sporty, making the CR-Z an exciting drive when it's demanded.
To go with its sporty image, the CR-Z has got stiff suspension which helps to improve grip and cornering ability. It also means that bumps in the road become more pronounced, but on the whole the Honda is still comfortable over long distances. Passengers sitting in the front will find supportive and comfortable seats with plenty of headroom, but the rear seats should only really be reserved for small children.
Power is delivered by a complicated petrol-electric set-up, but the CR-Z should prove to be quite a reliable car. It uses the same technology as the Honda Insight, and that model has had no major issues since its release. The CR-Z also managed to score a full five stars in the Euro NCAP safety test, with an impressive 93 per cent score for adult occupant protection.
The CR-Z isn't the most practical of cars and boasts only 225 litres of boot space. There are back seats fitted, but they're incredibly cramped and only really suitable for small children. Most buyers will keep the rear seats folded down all the time to increase boot space.
Value for money
The CR-Z is more expensive than some rivals, but that's down to its complicated mechanicals. Even so, you do get quite a lot of equipment as standard. Even basic S models, costing around £19,000, get electronic stability control, air-con and 16-inch alloy wheels included. Range-topping GT models cost over £20,000 but get full-leather upholstery, automatic lights and wipers, and a Bluetooth phone connection.
This is where the CR-Z shines. Its petrol-electric set-up means it averages 56.5mpg for fuel economy and has emissions of 117g/km. Go for a GT model – which features larger alloy wheels – and economy worsens to 54.3mpg. That's not quite as low as some diesel engines, but it's still impressive considering the performance on offer. The CR-Z also has a stop/start system that cuts the engine when the car is stationary, helping to reduce both emissions and fuel consumption.