Our cars: Honda CR-Z final report

* A year with the Honda CR-Z * Has Honda managed to mix style with substance? * By Steve Huntingford...

Our cars: Honda CR-Z final report

Above all, a coupe needs to be stylish, and I've got to admit the thing that first drew me to the Honda CR-Z was the way its design borrows from Honda's back catalogue, yet still looks modern.

However, the best coupes appeal on more than just a superficial level. So what do I think of Honda's sporty hybrid after a year of ownership?

Well, that CR-X-inspired rear end does bring big blind spots, so you have to be really careful when changing lanes on the motorway.

In fact, you can probably rule out the CR-Z straight away if you regularly do long motorway trips, because there's loads of wind and road noise, and the ride is crashy.

It's on backroads that the car feels most at home. There you can make the most of its sharp steering, slick gearshift and tight body control. The engine also loves to be revved when you put it in Sport mode.

All of this meant I ended up driving my CR-Z pretty hard at times, but I still managed to average more than 40mpg, and when I really put my mind to it
I was able to beat the official combined figure of 56.5mpg.

This impressive economy is largely down to the car's drivetrain. Most of the power comes from a small, 1.5-litre petrol engine, but an electric motor helps out when you put down your foot hard, and the engine cuts out altogether whenever you come to a stop.

There are also several handy displays to nudge you into driving efficiently; I found the way the speedo surround changes colour from green to blue as the revs rise particularly useful, because this really reminded me to change up early and go easy on the throttle.

Practicality is more mixed. The rear seats are extremely cramped, and letting someone into the back in the first place is a faff due to the fact you have to pull two separate levers to slide and tilt the seat out of the way. However, the rear seats fold flat when you need to extend the good-sized boot.

There are lots of handy cubbies in the cabin, too, including a flap under the dashboard that allows you to hide your iPhone from prying eyes when it's plugged into the USB socket.

As a bonus, the CR-Z feels like a proper sports car from behind the wheel, because you sit low and the dash is driver focused. That said, the seats aren't the most supportive, and I suffered from backache on long drives.

Over the past year, I've covered 14,654 miles in my CR-Z, and the cabin looked as good when the car went back to Honda as it did when I first collected it.

During those miles I even managed to get to grips with the stereo, although I did have to break the habit of a lifetime and read the manual because many of the buttons are labelled with obscure terms, such as A.SEL'.

The CR-Z's only service (at 12,500 miles) was carried out by Thames Ditton Honda after they quoted a reasonable-sounding 193 and offered to collect the car from my home or place of work. Everything went smoothly until the car 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 e-mail over some photos of the damage. However, Thames Ditton never agreed to repair the wheels, despite making sympathetic noises whenever I chased them during the remaining five weeks I had with the car.

The news that it was going back provoked a range of reactions among my colleagues. Those who had borrowed it and driven it on good roads were saddened they wouldn't get to experience it again, whereas others who'd used it solely to cover lots of motorway miles couldn't wait to see the back of it.

If you're looking for a stylish all-rounder, then, the CR-Z is probably best avoided, but if you like the looks, want to keep your costs down and rarely drive long distances, it's worth considering.

Our Cars: Honda CR-Z >>

Price when new 18,735
Price now (new) 19,095
Extras 17-inch Electra alloy wheels (1350); Premium White Pearl paint (440)
Total price new 20,525
Current part-ex value 10,845

Overall test fuel economy 42.1mpg
Worst fuel economy 33.7mpg
Best fuel economy 56.9mpg
True MPG 43.4mpg
Official fuel economy 56.5mpg
CO2(g/km)/tax liability 117/14%
Contract hire 250
Cost per mile 40p
Insurance group 17
Typical quote 545

Servicing 12,500 miles, 193
Repairs None

By Steve Huntingford