Our cars: Honda CR-Z - July 2012
Week ending July 27
Driven this week 123 miles
Honda CR-Z review
The CR-Z is one of those cars I like in principle more than in practice. The theory of putting an eco-friendly drivetrain in something that looks and feels rather more sporty than your average hybrid really appeals.
Trouble is, I find the CR-Z frustrating in everyday life. I'm rapidly growing tired of all the lights and changing colours on the dashboard – in fact, I find it annoying and almost patronising that the centre of the speedo turns red when I engage Sport mode.
That brings me to another frustration – if you want to get anything resembling sporty performance, you have to hit that Sport button. Both Normal and Eco strangle the engine and – in my experience – make the car awkward to drive smoothly in town.
Yes, maybe I'm a ham-fisted ape, but I really struggle to co-ordinate the throttle and clutch pedals. Too much of the time, I find myself kangarooing around or slipping the clutch to keep the engine from bogging down at low revs.
To cap it all, I cannot think of a car I have driven that is harder to parallel park. First, the vital parking sensors are almost inaudible (in fact, totally inaudible most of the time, given the volume I like to play Cardiacs albums at) and, secondly, the over-the-shoulder visibility is terrible.
At home, I have to reverse onto my drive to park up overnight, and it's been a miracle that the neighbour's low hedge has survived my efforts. Things are even worse parking on the street, as I found out while squeezing into a tight space in a Stockwell side street last week. Judging the car's position as I got it in and out was guesswork.
Week ending July 20
Total mileage 14,190
Driven this week: 154
One of my main bugbears with the CR-Z is the amount of road noise it generates, especially on the motorway. However, I’m beginning to wonder whether changing the Yokohama tyres for a different brand may solve (or at least reduce) the problem.
It was a recent back-to-back drive of two Kia Ceeds – one on Hankooks, the other on Continentals – that got me thinking. Not only did the car on Continentals grip better, it also suffered from a lot less road noise.
Of course, I’m reluctant to buy four new tyres without knowing if they would make much of a difference, so I’d be interested to hear from any CR-Z owner who has already switched to different rubber.
Week ending July 13
Total mileage 14,036
Driven this week 122 miles
The CR-Z has been in the wars again. A few weeks back, a couple of the alloys were scuffed by Thames Ditton Honda when they had the car in for a service, and now a clumsy colleague has scratched the underside of the front bumper after parking nose-in to the kerb.
In fairness, the CR-Z's nose is quite low and there's not much plastic cladding to provide protection. I'm guessing this was a conscious decision by the designers because it does help the looks – or at least it did until this latest incident.
Week ending July 6
Total mileage 13,912
Driven this week 188 miles
I borrowed the CR-Z for a night, and it reminded me of my first hybrid, the Insight coupe, because it has the same concept-car feel.
The new car is like its ancestor in other ways, too: some good, others less so.
The seat fabric is just as 'different', the cabin just as driver-focused and the snick of the gearshift just as pleasing.
Unlike the Insight, the CR-Z's styling promises performance, but if it's genuinely sporting motoring you're after, the non-centring steering and shortage of power might put you off.
Good on Honda for making the CR-Z, though. My favourite feature? The nearside front wiper arm; it covers a huge amount of the windscreen and is a work of art.