The Honda CR-Z is an odd car. In many ways it seems as if Honda have invented time travel, and have sent this car from the future. A sporty, two-door hybrid hatchback – I’ve been trying to think what rivals this car has, and I can’t think of any. But in typical Honda tradition, they’ve executed their own concept almost perfectly.
Honda CR-Z reviewed by Ciro De Siena
Engine CapabilityThe Honda CR-Z runs a 1.5 litre i-VTEC petrol motor, combined with an electric motor. With 110kW of combined power, and 190Nm of torque, on paper the car seems like it would be quite slow. It certainly isn’t. Fans of the brand will know that VTEC is Japanese for “this thing revs forever” – and it certainly does. It feels like you could stay in 3rd gear for weeks. And 2nd gear will pull almost to 100km/h.
The CRZ is what some call a 'mild hybrid'. While cars like the Toyota Prius can run for a while on the electric motor alone, before the petrol kicks in, with the Honda the electric and petrol are always on, working together. It’s a sort of electric turbocharger, which you can crank up at the push of a button.
Exterior StylingThere was a movie called Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes from ages ago. It was set far in the future, and I can’t help but feel the cop cars were actually Honda CR-Z’s, as weird as that sounds. But it really does look like an escape pod, with glass everywhere, an extremely low stance and very high bootline. I think it looks fantastic, and certainly stands out in a parking lot. My test unit was in white which I think is the perfect colour for the car. With blackened wheels, it turned heads in this uber-cool city of Cape Town, where no one is impressed by anything.
Interior StylingThe Honda CR-Z has the clearest dashboard and button arrangement you will ever come across. It’s like it was built for the visually impaired. Every button is massive, with a massive typeface spelling out exactly what the switch can do for you.
The binnacle glows all sorts of colours depending on how you drive, to let you know how much of the planet you’re saving. Keep it blue or green, and you’re literally planting trees. If it glows red, the car is angry at you and you should behave yourself.
The instruments also have this weird 3D effect, its been built to trick your eyes into thinking its far away. This is actually a safety feature – your eyes don’t have to adjust as much when you look down from the road.
The rear is very cramped – you won’t get anything back there except shopping, but the boot is more than enough for a weekend away for two. The cockpit is curved and very focused on the driver, and it all combines to make you feel like you’re in command of your very own private spaceship. It’s just very cool, really.
Safety RatingThe Honda CR-Z was the safest hybrid ever tested by EuroNCAP up until 2009, and was also the 2nd safest car overall in 2009. The car received top marks from the acclaimed safety agency, with 5 stars, scoring well in all aspects of vehicle safety, including pedestrian safety.
Driving CapabilityThe Honda engineers admit that they went out and bought a brand new Mini and a Lotus Elise when they were engineering this car. They wanted to capture the spirit of both in its handling, and they’ve done a great job. It’s perhaps not quite as sporty or planted as a Mini, but it feels lighter and actually has a more comfortable ride overall.
Shifting feels very sporting indeed; a short throw box with a very “snickity” feel, it reminded me very much of old Subaru’s, which is a good thing. And my goodness, but does this thing rev. It’s a very, very fun car to drive, and at the flick of a switch, you can go back to Eco mode and really save fuel. It could just be the best of both worlds.
Honda CR-Z - ConclusionIf you like being a bit different
- Honda CR-Z price: From R332 000
- View the vehicle: New Honda CR-Z / Used Honda CR-Z
- Super futuristic exterior and interior
- Fuel economy and sporting feel in the same car
- Massive sound system
- Lack of rear space
- With a few extras, it is quite pricey