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Road Test: Honda CR-Z

HYBRID cars aren’t generally associated with cutting edge style and spirited performance.

But the new Honda CR-Z has a large helping of both, so much so that the Japanese producer is describing its new star as ‘an urban street racer with a conscience’.

It’s certainly a model that stands out from the crowd and anyone who remembers the CRX from the 1980s with its shallow raked roofline and split level rear glass hatch will see the resemblance.

And that’s absolutely intentional, because Honda planned the CR-Z as a 21st Century re-thinking of that car.

The CR-Z is basically a compact two plus two coupe with some serious low-slung elegance and comes in three trim grades – S, Sport and GT – with prices from £16,999.

It is powered by Honda’s petrol-electric IMA system – a 1.5-litre engine boosted by an electric motor, the engine producing 114PS and motor 14PS.

Both the power and torque come from way down the rev range – between 1,000 and 1,500rpm – so initial acceleration is stronger, ideal for stop/start driving in urban conditions and hence the street racer link.

The upshot is a 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds – not exactly up there with the Audi TT but quite handy – and on to a top speed of 124mph.Better still for a car with sporty pretensions, the hybrid system and lightweight construction combine with the car’s stop-start technology to allow an average fuel return of 56.4 miles per gallon and CO2 emissions of 117g/km.

That’s not only well better than rivals like the Volkswagen Scirocco TDI and newly launched Peugeot RCZ but also keeps the Honda below the 120g/km level and into the £35 a year road tax band.

A low driving position and short shift six-speed manual gearbox add to the on-road experience and a 3-Mode Drive System offersa choice of different settings – Normal, Sport and Econ.

As its name suggests, Econ mode prioritises fuel economy while Normal provides a balance between performance, economy and emissions. Switch between the two and you hardly notice any change.

Only when the Sport button is engaged do you really feel a difference as the steering weights up, the throttle response sharpens and the electric motor gives more assistance.The CR-Z really impresses in this mode and is an enjoyable car to drive, though you really feel the stiff chassis on uneven roads – it’s a real boneshaker.

Inside, the driver is faced with what you might imagine the console of a spacecraft to look like – lots of buttons, neon lights that change colour depending on the mode selected, an Eco bar and pods either side of the multi-function steering wheel.

It’s attractive but there’s a bit too much going on for my simple tastes.

Otherwise there’s plenty of space up front, the seats are well designed and feel durable and there’s a decent amount of room in the boot.

On the downside, the rear seats are only big enough for young children as leg and headroom is very restricted and the horizontal beam separating the two rear windscreens obstructs vision and is very frustrating.

Overall though, this is a car that offers something different – great looks (especially in black or white), eco awareness, an engaging drive and a the performance you don’t expect from a hybrid.

All versions are well equipped with six airbags, active headrests, vehicle stability assist, climate control, six-speaker CD player and an engine start button.

S grades get heated door mirrors, rear dimming mirror, electric windows, daytime running lights, shift indicator light and auxilliary socket while Sport grades have additional ambient lighting, alloy pedals, cruise control, leather gear shift, parking sensors, privacy glass, 240W premium audio system and USB port for MP3 players.

Top grade GT models add full leather upholstery and heated front seats, panoramic glass roof, Xenon headlights, Hands-Free Telephone and automatic headlights and wipers.

Prices are £16,999 for the CR-Z S model, £17,999 for Sport and £19,999 for GT.

Article Found At: Coventry Telegraph - Lifestyle - Motoring - Road Test: Honda CR-Z
 
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