Our cars: Honda CR-Z - July 2011

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Honda CR-Z switch
Honda CR-Z switch
Honda CR-Z 1.5 i-VTEC Sport

Week ending July 29
Mileage 1710
Driven this week 346 miles


Honda CR-Z review

The CR-Z is probably the first hybrid car that’s fun to drive. In fact, I seem to be enjoying it a bit too much – so far I’ve averaged just 38mpg, whereas the official figure is 56.5mpg.

To improve consumption – and lower my fuel bills – I plan to start using the car’s Econ setting more often. This makes the hybrid drivetrain prioritise economy over performance, although it also leaves the CR-Z feeling desperately sluggish, so is best reserved for town driving. When the car is in Normal or Sport it’s much more lively.

Steven.Huntingford@whatcar.com


Week ending July 22
Total mileage 1364
Driven this week 270 miles


As the CR-Z’s odometer approached the 1000-mile mark, I began to notice an annoying buzzing sound coming from the speaker in the passenger door. Until then, the car’s sound system had been one of its strengths – Sport spec CR-Z’s like mine get a premium system with seven speakers, including a large, boot-mounted sub woofer.

I’m pretty sure I’m not to blame for the fault because the days when I used to get in a car and crank the stereo up to 11 are long gone.

Steven.Huntingford@whatcar.com


Week ending July 15
Mileage 1094
Driven this week 632 miles


Two weeks into CR-Z ownership, and I’m already a big fan of the car's futuristic, three-dimensional instruments. They not only look sensational, but are also easy to read at a glance – a rare combination.

I particularly like the way the speedometer surround changes colour, from blue to green, when you’re driving as economically as possible. It’s a simple feature that really reminds you to change up early and be gentle on the throttle. I’m looking forward to seeing what mpg figures I can get out of the car once its engine is properly run in.

Steven.Huntingford@whatcar.com


Week ending July 8
Total mileage 462
Mileage this week 180


Going green has never been more desirable. Not only are there financial benefits, but for the first time, car makers are offering eco models that you’d want for more than just their efficiency.

Take my new Honda CR-Z. It looks as stylish and modern as an iPad, and is fun to drive thanks to agile, darty handling. The fact that it also emits less than 120g/km of CO2 and averages 56.5mpg (in official tests) is merely a very welcome bonus.

The CR-Z’s impressive figures are largely down to its clever hybrid drivetrain. Most of the power comes from a small, 1.5-litre petrol engine, but an electric motor provides extra shove when you need it. The batteries for this are charged using the energy that would normally be lost under braking, while an engine stop-start system saves fuel and cuts emissions in traffic.

Just how low the fuel consumption and emissions are depends on how you drive the CR-Z, of course, and there are several handy displays to nudge you in the right direction.

The CR-Z also has three modes (Econ, Norm and Sport) which let you alter the responses of the throttle, steering, climate control and engine stop-start system to suit different conditions. Changes in throttle response are particularly noticeable; the engine feels like it has gone into limp-home mode when you’re in Econ, but offers nippy acceleration in Sport.

Every CR-Z comes with climate control, six airbags and an auxiliary socket for an MP3 player as standard. However, I decided to upgrade to the mid-level Sport spec because this adds a USB port, steering wheel-mounted stereo controls, rear parking sensors and cruise control.

I also added 17-inch Electra alloy wheels (which are a rather pricey option at £1350) and Premium White Pearl metallic paint (for a more reasonable £440) because they really suit the car. In fact, the CR-Z is very colour-sensitive, looking as dowdy in blue as it does stunning in white.

This isn’t the only issue with the CR-Z: its ride is quite firm, the rear seats are strictly for emergencies and some of the plastics in the cabin are disappointingly hard. Overall, though, it definitely feels more designer shirt than hairshirt.

Steven.Huntingford@whatcar.com
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