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November 2011

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What Car? Staff

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**Honda CR-Z 1.5 i-VTEC Sport

Week ending November 25
Mileage 7396
Driven this week 210 miles**

Honda CR-Z review

Evaluate individual aspects of the CR-Z, and its hard to think of a single one that's outstanding.

The hybrid drivetrain, which combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, produces a relatively modest 122bhp, so there are plenty of faster coupes.

Whats more, official average fuel economy is 56.5mpg, which sounds decent enough in isolation, but still falls well short of the figures achieved by similarly powerful diesels.

You also have to put up with a firm low-speed ride and limited over-the-shoulder vision, while the rear seats are short on head- and legroom, and therefore strictly for emergencies.

Its only when you start to consider the CR-Z as a package that it starts to make sense.

The engine has that addictive, free-revving nature that all the best Honda petrols do, while the low-down torque provided by the electric motor means its usefully flexible, too.

Then theres the fuel economy, which might be down on diesel rivals', but is still excellent for a petrol car.

Similarly, cramped rear seats are by no means unusual for a coupe, and while the boot could be bigger, the rear seats fold down completely flat to leave a good-sized load space weve found itll take camping gear, golf bags or gardening supplies with ease.

Perhaps most important of all, though, is the fact that the CR-Z is so good at putting a smile on your face thanks to tight body control and a front-end that darts into turns with just a tiny tug on the wheel.

Throw in styling that clearly draws on Hondas heritage (theres more than a hint of CRX about it) yet still manages to look thoroughly modern, and youve got a very appealing car.

Steven.Huntingford@whatcar.com

Week ending November 18
Mileage 7186
Driven this week 360 miles

Why do certain manufacturers feel the need to fit starter buttons to every model they produce? I can appreciate theyre essential if your car comes with keyless entry and start-up, but the one in our long term CR-Z is totally superfluous.

Why anyone would want to turn the ignition key with his or her right hand before fumbling around behind the left side of the steering wheel to poke a button is beyond me. Bear in mind, were talking about a state-of-the-art hybrid sports car, yet its fitted with a starting arrangement that first found favour back in the roaring twenties. What next, a starter-handle as a no cost option?

Peter.Tullin@whatcar.com

Week ending November 4
Mileage 6220
Driven this week: 190 miles

Many new cars come with a stop-start system that automatically cuts the engine when you come to a halt and select neutral. However, the CR-Zs works better than most.

Its engine starts up almost instantaneously when you select first gear, so youre not left waiting when the traffic moves away or the lights turn green. Whats more, the CR-Zs engine starts up smoothly and unobtrusively, whereas some other systems shake the car (and those onboard) as they fire back into life.

Steven.Huntingford@whatcar.com