Honda CR-Z: First report

Can a petrol-electric coupe be truly sporty? Our senior road tester is about to find out...

You can’t beat the showroom-fresh feel of a new car. So I was looking forward to visiting Chiswick Honda in London to collect the newest addition to our fleet, especially as it’s the biggest Honda dealer in the UK. Bikes, scooters, lawn mowers, marine engines and generators are all on show, reminding you of the huge scope of Honda’s expertise.

Once staff photographer Pete Gibson had finished drooling over the motorbikes, it was time for us to meet our new Rock Silver CR-Z Sport. Dealer coordinator Nommy Tokunaga pointed out the optional carbon effect exterior trim, body-coloured rear wing and metallic grille of the £1,550 Dynamic+ pack, plus the £1,890 17-inch wheels.

Inside, our car has the Glow pack fitted, which gives you illuminated CR-Z badges on the door sills, plus we’ve opted for £1,250 leather upholstery. Having driven the CR-Z before I’m familiar with its somewhat over-complicated cabin, but I still took a while to reacquaint myself.

And while the low-slung seating position is appropriate for a coupe, space is tight and my knees brush the dash. The rear seats, meanwhile, are too small for adults, but at least the bench folds to increase boot space.

Handover complete, I headed out on the road. There’s a choice of three driving modes: Normal, Sport and Econ. As the name suggests, Econ prioritises efficiency, while Sport increases the steering weight, throttle sensitivity and assistance from the electric motor.

To date I’ve mainly driven in Eco, and after 800 miles we’ve averaged 37.8mpg. However, so far I’m a little confused by the CR-Z. As a sports car, it has sharp turn-in and strong front-end grip, but you can feel the weight of the batteries, and the suspension struggles to control body roll, which means it doesn’t feel as agile as its dinky dimensions suggest. Yet around town the firm ride and restricted visibility aren’t ideal, while on the motorway road noise is an issue.

However, I love the fact that unlike most hybrids it has a manual transmission – especially as the six-speed box has the snappy, yet light, shift action Honda is famous for.

Given that the company is also renowned for its innovation and solid engineering, I’m expecting the CR-Z to be faultlessly reliable and hoping the idea of a hybrid sports car will grow on me. While the jury is out at the moment, I’m excited and open-minded about living with this unique car.

Extra Info

“I’ve enjoyed driving the CR-Z but I have been annoyed by the radio, which struggles to pick up my favourite London-based station – a poor show given I live in London.”Luke Madden, Web reporter

“It sounds like Honda would have been better off dropping either the 1.8-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel from Civic hatchback into this car.”LegioIXHispana, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

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