New car review: Honda CR-Z

On the surface, Honda’s latest CR-Z coupe seems like a masterstroke, combining the performance of a sports car with the efficiency of a hybrid.

Add to that an arsenal of accessories befitting a luxury vehicle and a price tag of less than $40,000, and you should be onto a winner. And a worthy successor to sporty Honda predecessors including the NSX, S2000, Integra and Prelude.

Unfortunately for Honda the latest iteration CR-Z has efficiency and sportiness in the wrong doses.

Honda recently streamlined the CR-Z range to just one luxury model. At $38,490 plus on-roads ($40,790 in automatic), the CR-Z is more expensive than a Toyota 86, Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Polo GTI and Hyundai Veloster Turbo.

As before, the two-door CR-Z gets a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, combined with a lithium ion battery. Honda engineers have extracted some extra performance from the teaming, boosting power to a combined petrol-electric output of 99kW and 190Nm in automatic form. The CR-Z comes with a choice of a six-speed manual or CVT auto. We drove the latter, fitted with paddle shifters for increased driver involvement.

From the outside, the CR-Z lives up to Honda’s sporty past. There’s a striking resemblance to the 1980s CR-X, from which it takes its styling inspiration. A prominent grille and LED lights punctuate the car’s swoopy and slightly revised front end, with a sharply tapered rear and two-tone 17-inch wheels complementing the aggressive stance. Owners won’t appreciate the CR-Z’s extra-long driver and passenger doors in tight spaces, though.

Inside, the CR-Z’s cabin is very much focused on the driver, with a cockpit feel to the instrument panel and a driving position that is low and laid-back, with white-stitched leather front seats. The instrument read-out is a highlight, changing colour depending on the driving mode you choose. Hit the Eco button and it turns green, go to sport and it glows red. The only let-down is an abundance of hard plastic on the dash and doors.

By comparison, the cloth-trim seats in the rear are virtually redundant and are among the worst for practicality in the new-car market. Teens would struggle to squeeze into the rear pew because of negligible leg room and the sharply tapered roofline, and even little ones will feel claustrophobic. Honda has fitted the CR-Z with two anchor points for a baby capsule, but they’re virtually useless because of the poor layout. The shallow 225-litre boot (despite getting a tyre inflation kit instead of spare to conserve space) is hard to access, while the two-piece rear glass makes rear vision a chore.

Driving through Sydney’s outskirts, the 1199-kilogram CR-Z felt surprisingly agile, but only when it was fixed to Sport mode. A new Plus Sport (S+) button supposedly provides further engine and electric motor assist power, but the gains felt negligible. Switching from Sport mode to the Normal and ECON mode, the CR-Z turned its hand to efficiency, dimming power and handling characteristics to more docile levels. Honda claims fuel usage figures of 5.0L/100km; our reading was closer to 7.0L/100km in a mix of driving.

The CR-Z’s engine is helped along by a fairly adept, albeit buzzy, CVT gearbox. The combination, while undernourished, worked well enough. The CR-Z works its way up to 100km/h in circa-10 seconds and, once there, springs no nasty surprises with road and engine noise.

The steering in the CR-Z is razor sharp, accurate and well-weighted, giving terrific feedback through turns. Impressively, the car suffered very little front-end scrub, though the Michelin tyres tended to lose grip in the rear fairly easily with enthusiastic driving.

As a result of the sporty steer, the CR-Z tended towards firm in its handling, bouncing over all but the smallest of bumps and even crashing in the rear over larger obstacles. Tyre noise is also intrusive.

The CR-Z is fitted with a swag of fruit to match the $40,000 price tag, including sat-nav, reversing camera, DVD player, auto-stop function, Bluetooth phone audio streaming, a six-speaker stereo, USB connectivity, climate control and sun-roof.

The CR-Z gets a five-star safety rating (six airbags, stability control) and a three-year, 100,000-kilometre warranty, but isn’t offered in Australia with capped price servicing.

There is plenty of merit in combining performance with hybrid efficiency. But unfortunately for Honda, the CR-Z is neither overtly sporty or impressively efficient.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲学校.

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