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Honda brings the Civic Hatchback back to us with the CR-Z

For years the name Honda was synonym of Sport, performance and F1, but unfortunately after the death of its founder Sōichirō Honda as well as the inevitable wave of talented engineers who had been forced to retire, Honda quickly lost its “Sports” Value by only one real sports car- oriented vehicle left on its line-up, the Civic Type-R.

For years, we, gentlemen drivers, have been hoping that Honda would propose new vehicles targeting again into performances world, and finally it seems that we have been heard, or at least so we thought.

Marketed as the first Sports Hybrid, the Honda CR-Z is actually just a plain disappointment if you are hoping to get the thrill of driving a “Sports” vehicle. Yes for sure the look of CR-Z is mean enough to be called a real Sports car, but unfortunately, here as well, Look can be deceiving.

Sharper, more aggressive, the CR-Z lines are really ahead of Honda’s actual production and have very few common elements with Honda’s other Hybrid the Insight, however the overall lines of our CR-Z just remind us of another iconic Honda Hatchback, the Civic particularly in its 3rd and 5th Generation when the word "sports" still had a real meaning for the company.

Unfortunately not as pretty as its concept introduced in 2007, the CR-Z however has some kind of “presence” that just makes our car stand out of the crowd. We, at NihonCar, personally like our CR-Z's new nose giving to the whole design some kind of futuristic land speeder. Yes, by far the design is our car's biggest success and may even be the only one.

We may sound like an old broken record on this one but like almost any Honda car we've ever driven our car's interior design does not give us the same thrill as its exterior. Better than the JDM Odyssey, the CR-Z interior however just lacks identity and added to this are the questionable plastics and an un-ergonomic central consol with limited spaces for your personal effects and weird “Cable” just popping out of it for the needs of our car GPS and its Internavi module (Real time Traffic, Weather, Advisor…).

With a sadly designed interior, the CR-Z is on the other hand very comfortable, at least for the front passengers! Sold as a 2+2, the CR-Z does not strike us as a family-oriented car, and unless you unfortunately lost your 2 legs in a tragic accident, and honestly we would never wish that such horrible thing befalls on you, you wouldn’t be able to use any of the 2 seats behind.

I am not a tall man, just 1.72cm tall, but once seated behind the steering wheel, even my 3 year-old daughter did not have room for her legs once seated behind me…

On the Road.
Let’s put it simple, for a “Sports” oriented car, the CR-Z gives at best a dull driving experience…. Now if you compare the CR-Z to a compact underpowered car, well, yeah the CR-Z will give you the thrill you are looking for in driving a fast car, but if you've ever driven a real sports car, and by that I do not mean necessarily a fancy Gallardo or even an Honda S2000, but let’s say a simple Subaru Impreza in its 2l S-GT version, you will, just like us, try to find out why the “Sports” mode on the CR-Z is not effective at all and if you where not driving for the past 10 minutes with the parking brake on. For sure you will see the rev going up faster to its limit when you are switching from the “Normal” mode to the “Sport” mode, the 1.5l iVTEC engine (124Hp) will also groal much more as well, but this will be as much “sports” as you will get.

As you may have already figured it out, the CR-Z is not a Sports car per-se, but rather a marketing Jedi-like mind trick focusing on the “Sports” looking line of the car rather than on its pure “Engine” power.

Sure, you can argue that the CR-Z will go fast, yep like any other car if you give them time and enough road ahead of it, but still don’t expect anything truly amazing here… really! The only good point in driving the CR-Z is to enjoy a well-balanced car offering acceptable flat cornering… Being an Hybrid obviously adds some weight to the car but it also helps redistributing this weight evenly, providing a more stable and safer car.

Now let’s focus on the other Aspect of the CR-Z's main selling point, the “Hybrid” portion of it… Like its older sister the Insight, the CR-Z is performing rather differently than other “Hybrids” and operates on one mode only : gasoline engine with electric assist. Also using the Start-Stop function, the CR-Z ,like the Insight ,does offer a different approach to the Hybrid world.

On a technical stand point, Honda’s approach to the Hybrid world is sound and not better or worse than what offers other manufacturers. It is just simply different. Meaning by this, at any given time when your car is moving, even a little, your engine will be on, and personally it just simply spoils all the fun to own an Hybrid. To this extent, I really missed the EV or Electric Vehicle options found on Toyota’s cars while driving the CR-Z and despite the fact that I was driving an Hybrid car I did not feel like saving the earth each time my CR-Z was in motion.

Does the Hybrid aspect of the CR-Z make a difference? Well, we are not sure as we could not test the car enough to be able to get a clear idea on this matter… We just succeed to reach the 550km mark with the CR-Z during our test and to be fair, we have been pretty wild on the CR-Z in order to test its “raw” power. We assume that 500 to 600 km is what you should expect from any CR-Z in normal driving conditions… Of course you can always push further these limits if you are driving softly/gently on any given road without any AC and driving alone, but what would be the point in doing so?

So the CR-Z, what to think about it? Well, it is complicated, we, and I personally like the car's design and curves, I like its sports looks but on the other hand I did not have much fun driving it. The CR-Z can only be enjoyed with max. 2 people inside. It’s not the most amazing ride if you ever dream to hit the road for a long road trip with friends…

From where I stand, I believe that the CR-Z is just another hybrid car made for 2 and to be used only to commute from home to work with just enough of sportiness thanks to its lines in order to give you the feeling that you are not driving anyone’s else Hybrid.

Article Found At: Honda brings the Civic Hatchback back to us with the CR-Z. : Nihon Car .com
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