Our cars: Honda CR-Z - June 2012
Week ending June 29
Driven this week: 100
Honda CR-Z review
A couple of weeks ago, I arranged for Thames Ditton Honda to give the CR-Z its first service after they quoted a reasonable-sounding £193.05 and offered to collect the car from my place of work.
At about 10.00am on the prearranged day, a driver took the CR-Z away, leaving a Civic in its place. Then, a few hours later I received a phone call telling me that the scheduled maintenance had been completed, along with some recall work on the engine stop-start system, which I hadn't even known about.
Just when I was thinking how smoothly everything was going, though, the CR-Z was returned – complete with two freshly kerbed alloy wheels.
The delivery driver denied all knowledge, so I got on the phone to the service centre, who asked me to email over some photos of the damage.
Two days later, having had no response to my email, I rang again and was told that the person dealing with my case would come back shortly. However, it was actually a further three days before anyone from Thames Ditton called.
'I'm just ringing to check you were happy with the service that we carried out', the lady on the other end of the line said. 'To be honest, no', I replied, before going through the story with her.
Less than five minutes later, the man I'd sent the photos to rang to say he'd left me a voicemail message on my mobile (maybe it's playing up because I didn't receive one) and that he would arrange for a repair to be carried out. However, another week has now passed without me hearing anything.
Week ending Jun 22
Driven this week 188
When I first tried our long-term CRZ last year, I wanted to dislike it. Being old enough to have first-hand experience of the original Honda CRX, on which this car is so clearly based, I thought this hybrid concoction would be a cruel pastiche.
But like it I did, despite the underpinnings, and like it I still do. Admittedly it’s not much good on motorways, but it’s a nimble little urban proposition, in the mould of the old Fiat X1/9, or the original MX-5. It proves that a car can be fun to drive without being overtly fast, though, like my colleagues, I would add that it is fun only in its Sport mode, the Econ and Normal settings blunt the otherwise eager responses.
My only misgiving would be a shortage of front-end grip when pressing on in the wet, but considering the tyres are the sort of thing you’d have on a shopping car, it’s perhaps not surprising.
Talking of which, the CRZ makes an excellent shopping car; pert enough to slice through traffic, easy to park and load, and big enough (just) to accommodate two children in the back.
Week ending June 15
Driven this week: 91 miles
The CR-Z weighs quite a bit less than its main rivals, despite the heavy batteries needed to power the hybrid drivetrain. The Honda tips the scales at 38 kilos less than a Hyundai Veloster, for example, and 164 kilos less than a Vauxhall Astra GTC.
Better still, the batteries are located at the back of the car, which helps balance out the weight of the petrol engine sitting at the front. The result? The hybrid Honda stays remarkably neutral through corners. The front wheels don’t run wide anywhere near as early as you’d expect, and if you do go in a bit too aggressively, backing off the throttle is all it takes to tighten your line.
I had a real hoot in the Honda when I borrowed it last weekend, which is just as well, because in other respects the CR-Z always leaves me feeling short-changed. It’s very noisy on long trips, the ride is crashy and interior quality isn’t as good as you’d hope, either.
Week ending June 8
Driven this week: 185 miles
I drove our CR-Z for only the second time in six months during the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, and I'm still undecided as to whether or not I like it.
I needed to transport a number of items to a party – one of which was a large and delicate cake. Naturally, the little Honda wasn't my first choice – an estate or SUV would have been considerably more practical than a two-door sports car – but then a colleague brought to my attention that its rear seats fold down flat.
This, combined with a reasonably shallow lip, removable boot cover and wide-opening tailgate made for an almost-perfect cake courier. The only set back was the firm ride over patchy Essex B-roads.
As a whole, though, the CR-Z is incredibly fun to drive. I just wish the Auto Stop system was less interfering; in heavy rush-hour traffic on Wednesday morning I had to suffer the embarrassment of appearing to stall it on a number of occasions, and unlike other cars with stop-start technology, the CR-Z' s system cannot be turned off.