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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is the first in a series of posts about driving the CR-Z.

First, getting into the car and starting the engine.

Like other Honda cars, the CR-Z has the smart key system as standard on the Alpha grade car. (When the car is parked and locked, the alarm / immobilizer system is on.)

Pressing the button on the door handle unlocks the car.

When seated in the car, you see the dials picked out in blue. To start the engine, you have to depress the clutch pedal fully. The car will not start if you depress the brake of accelerator.

EDIT. The dust on the car is sand from the Gobi desert, which falls when it rains. Since it is parked outside, my car has a polymer coating, but no cover.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Next, the car has its own preparation system (this being Japan).

The dials light up and the navigation system starts. When I bought my Supra, back in 1996, navigation systems has only just started and none was standard for the car. I had one installed in my Civic, but even the latest system cannot distinguish roads that you can use from roads you cannot and my CR-Z (always a pleasant female voice speaking Japanese) directs me along a road that is narrower than the car.

The lady welcomes you to CR-Z car life and helpfully tells you your average fuel consumption to date. On the dials, there is space for an information section, that can be changed with a button on the steering wheel. Mine is set to telling how many more kilometers I can drive without refueling and how many kilometers I have driven.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
On the left side of the steering wheel are the air-conditioning switches, and on the right side are: the mirror switches, the switch to turn off the VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist), and the buttons to select the driving modes. When you start the engine, this mode is always set at Normal, and the settings of four crucial items (engine revs, motor assist, steering, and air-conditioning) are set at 通常 (= normal or ordinary).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
As I stated elsewhere, I drove a Civic hybrid for just over three years, but eventually decided to change, for several reasons. First, even though the Supra was supremely alcoholic with regard to gas mileage, it was a superb car to drive. The response was always pretty well instant. The Civic was quite different. It was extremely sedate and would happily float along. It was big and heavy, though not as heavy as the Supra, but lacked power. The 1.3 liter engine was very good and efficient, but the car really struggled when climbing even gentle gradients.

I notice that one of the CR-Z reviews in another thread is by a Dutchman, driving the car in the Netherlands, where there are virtually no hills. A good friend of mine, who drives a Civic hybrid there, is very enthusiastic about his car and has no problem with the power output. (He is a safety engineer working on Holland's high speed rail line, so has no problems with speed.) In Japan, however, there are lots of mountains and the Civic was not up to the task of climbing gradients. (I have heard that the new Civic will be smaller and have the CR-Z's larger engine.)

The CR-Z is quite different. It really is like an Insight on steroids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
At present I am using the car for commuting to and from the academic institutions where I teach and so I have not yet taken the car on a long drive, or on a circuit.

The clutch is reasonably light, far lighter then the Supra's, and the gear ratios are more evenly spaced than those for the Supra (where 6th gear was a kind of overdrive top). So, when you are in Normal driving mode, a triangular sign on the lefthand side of the dials advises you when to change up or down and you are expected to go right up to 6th gear even in quite slow-moving traffic. In the Japanese catalogue, Honda praises this as a step forward in 'shift timing', but I kept changing up and down far too early, probably because I felt the car would begin to stall. As with the Civic, for a driver at all concerned with fuel economy, the CR-Z requires a specific kind of driving technique, or so Honda would have us believe.

Changing to Sport mode brings instant and dramatic changes. There is quite a lot of power and closest feeling is to the Mazda Roadster or the Mini Cooper. It does not quite have the wallop of the Supra, but you can use the full range of gears to advantage. I test drove a CR-Z with CVT, but I prefer the manual transmission car.

I have mentioned the Hill-Start Assist in another thread and this is part of the VSA, together with the auto-engine stop. So, when you want to stop, you can either change down and help the battery by engine braking, or select neutral and the car will glide to a halt--a silent halt, when the speed drops below a certain level. This is a rather eerie feeling at first. If you stop on a gradient and engage neutral, while still engaging the foot brake, the engine will stop. As soon as you fully depress the clutch and engage first gear, the engine will start and the car will remain stationary while you move your left foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator. I refused to believe this at first, so I took the car into the hills around Hiroshima and tested it. The Hill-Start Assist will not work, however, if you use the handbrake.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
In this last post in the thread, at least for the time being, I will discuss the three driving modes a little more.

As I stated, when you start the car, everything is in Normal mode and for regular commuting I have seen fit to change to Sport mode only when climbing a certain long hill in a tunnel. (Driving up this hill in Economy mode is incredibly slow, for the car's engine management system constantly advises the highest gear possible.) There is not much point in Sport mode in Hiroshima's rush hour. On expressways, however, Economy mode makes rather more sense, especially Japan's expressways, where little overtaking is possible and the speed limits are very low. This is where the car's cruise control system comes in handy (on Alpha grade cars only).

One evening, when traffic was light, I drove the car back home in Sport mode and this is where the car really stood out. I kept the VSA on, so the car's engine stop, hill start systems were still functioning, but the VSA was far less obtrusive. The fuel consumption, also, did not suffer at all. So I wonder if Honda will quietly abandon Economy mode at some point, or merge it with a retuned Normal.

Two last points. The car is sold in Japan as a 2 + 2, but this is a total joke. Nobody could spend much time in the back seats without emerging as a cripple.

Finally, the car's GPS navigation system is very good. In my own car, this is mated to Honda's own system, via something called Internavi, and gives much more precise and up-to-date information than the system I had in the Civic.
 

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Thank you for your review. My compliments on your english, which I assume is not your native language.

How is the visibility from the driver's seat? Are there any "blind spots" when changing lanes or parking, for example?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hello,

First, to answer your question. The front window pillars are quite wide, as they are on the Civic, and the car has a Prius-style divided rear window. The navigation system comes with a camera, fitted just above the rear license plate. So, parking is not really a problem and I have found changing lanes no problem, also.

Finally, I was born in the UK, but have permanent residence here. I have been teaching philosophy and management at Hiroshima University for the past 30 years.

Best wishes,

Thank you for your review. My compliments on your english, which I assume is not your native language.

How is the visibility from the driver's seat? Are there any "blind spots" when changing lanes or parking, for example?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hello,

On the righthand side of the steering wheel there is a button marked 'i', by means of which you can change the information received from the car's computers etc. I have left the setting as it was when I received the car from the dealer. Thus, about 1 km into my journey to school this morning, I was informed (by the polite Japanese lady, again) of the car's average fuel consumption so far. It was 16.1 kilometers per liter (sorry, I have lived here too long to think in miles per gallon).

However, the figure has varied between 12.6 and 19.1 km/l. When I returned home today, I had driven 980 km in total since receiving the car: a good mixture of inner-city and expressway driving.

By comparison with the Insight, which my dealer always gives me when my car is being serviced, this is a few km/l lower. The Insight does not give a daily mileage announcement, but there is a constant average, which was around 17-19 km/l.

It is, however, marginally better than the Civic hybrid I used to drive--until they updated the car's CPU programs (there are three on the Civic). Previously, the Civic used to give me 17-20 km/l on average, but the battery/motor would sometimes become almost exhausted, especially on a hot summer day. Honda explained that there were eight segments on the battery/charge meter and when there was only one segment left showing, the motor would cut out, leaving the car to run only on the 1.3 liter engine. After the computer had been updated, the battery / motor would cut out when only three of four segments were left--and this had a detrimental effect on the car's fuel consumption, which went down to about 14 km/l on average.

The Toyota Prius is being increasingly used here as a taxi and I once asked a driver about his fuel consumption. His answer was between 12 and 15 km per liter.

After I have taken my CR-Z on a long trip, I shall be able to speak with more confidence about the fuel consumption. In addition, I am coming to realize that it also really does depend on how you drive it.

Best wishes,

PAG

Can you talk a little more about your gas milage. What are you getting on average in the city for example.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hello,

The car is due for its 1,000 km check-up tomorrow and they will probably give me an Insight to drive while this is being done. I will be able to give you a better answer early next week.

PAG


good question Rotiv :thumbsup:

here in the US, just like most of the world... we have the Insight... i've driven that car before... can you make some decent comparisons between the CR-Z and Insight? things like feel of steering/handling, braking, acceleration, battery charge/discharge...
 

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In addition, I am coming to realize that it also really does depend on how you drive it.
it absolutely depends on how you drive it... on a trip in the '09 LX Civic... i managed to get an average of 46mpg with about 85-90% hwy... i got over 500miles on that one tank before refilling with about 4 bars left...

i was practicing "hypermiling" on that trip though and i've concluded that it definitely works lol...
FYI 16.1 kilometers per liter = 37.9 MPG

FWIW my 5-speed Honda fit sport 10,000 mile overall average = 35.9 MPG
that's not a bad number if it's city/hwy driving...
Hello,

The car is due for its 1,000 km check-up tomorrow and they will probably give me an Insight to drive while this is being done. I will be able to give you a better answer early next week.

PAG
sweet, thank you very much... you are really my new best friend :hi5:
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Honda in Japan have produced much publicity about the ecological credentials of their hybrid cars. So their latest pamphlet lists the Honda Green Machines. 001 is the Insight, which was first in the series--the one with the body matching that of the Prius in sheer ugliness. 002 is the Civic and 003 is the CR-Z. 004 will be the hybrid version of the Fit (for Japan only) and I wonder to what extent the gas mileage will improve on the non-hybrid model.

Honda's official figures are: 001 Insight: 30.0 km/l; 002 Civic: 31.0 km/l; 003 CR-Z: 25.0 km/l. The figures, however, have to be interpreted. They are for what is called '10-15 mode' in tests made by the Japanese Transport Ministry. All the catalogues are required also to give another set of figures: 'JC08 mode', again for tests made by the Japanese Transport Ministry and the figures are lower. Thus: the '10-15 mode' figures for the CR-Z (25.0 km/l for the CVT version and 22.5 km/l for the manual version) become 22.8 km/l for the CVT version and 20.6 for the manual version in the 'JC08 mode'. The explanation in the CR-Z catalogue is the the JC08 mode is a new way of calculating that is closer than the 10-15 mode to what drivers are actually likely to achieve.

So the First Law of Gas Mileage is, 'Never believe the figures quoted by the manufacturer.' For they are simply a motoring Holy Grail, designed to make drivers feel guilty about how bad their driving affects the 'ecological balance' etc etc.

When I bought my Civic, the effect on my wallet was immediate--and very beneficial. It is my usual practice for fill the tank right up whenever I visit the gas station. With the Supra, with its thirst for high-octane (70 liters per tankful) these visits were quite often, especially for inner-city commuting. On expressways, however, especially on long journeys, the Supra did not disappoint at all. Nor did the Civic, either, on long journeys, though the driving manner had to be completely different--and this took a lot of getting used to.

The CR-Z falls somewhere in between. The tank holds only 40 liters (same as the Insight and ten less than the Civic), which is probably somewhat small, given the car's pretensions to be 'sporty'. (Though Honda had the same problem with the Civic Type R: only 50 liters.) So, I do not think the car will appeal to someone who wants only good mileage. A Prius would be much better, but it would be, well, a Prius, with all that this implies. Similarly, I would not think the average CR-Z owner would worry too much about the gas mileage, especially the members of this forum.

Finally, I mentioned the car's information system in a previous post. So I checked the owner's handbook (you would not believe the size of the wallet that contains this and about 20 other items). There is a 'multi-information display' (on the lower right side of the dashboard: there is a thumbnail picture in one of my earlier posts: Post #2). This has to be operated with a select/reset switch on the steering wheel. The first information is how much of an 'eco-driver' you are (and when you start the car, the navigation system displays how many eco-points you have--in naked detail). Then you can change this in turn to: your eco-driving history; average fuel consumption over a specific period; kilometers remaining on the fuel you have left in the tank--which varies quite wildly with the mode you select and the driving conditions; the number of hours and minutes you have until you need to refuel; the car's 'energy flow'; or, finally, turning off the whole information flow, which leaves you with just the engine temperature and the odometer.

I shall be curious to see whether US models offer the same exhaustive information capacity. With the Prius it is all there in gory detail on the navigation display. Honda have put it in a more discreet place, where only the driver can see it.
 
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