Japanese Magazine Test Drive Review
Japanese Mag Takes Honda CR-Z For a Drive; Says It's Slow, But Handles WellThe production version of the 2011 Honda CR-Z was just introduced at the 2010 Detroit Auto show, but a magazine in Japan has already taken a test drive on a closed course. Here's a translated version of their thoughts on the car.
"The production version of the car looks sharp sitting on the track thanks to well balanced proportions. The character line that runs down the side of the car looks more pronounced on the silver paint than it does on a red or blue color. The tires and wheels are noticeably less spectacular then the ones from the show car as the wheels are only 16-inches in diameter with 195/55R16 tires. That said, the wheels look of high quality and don't make the car look cheap.
Now we climb into the cabin. The tachometer sits at the center of the instrument cluster with a digital speedometer readout located immediately beneath it. The entire dashboard layout has a distinct sporty look and feel to it, leaving no doubt in the driver's mind that he's sitting in a performance-oriented car. Despite the car being labeled a 4-seater, the rear seats are quite cramped and look just large enough to fit two children.
The shift knob of the 6-speed manual transmission slides into each gear with a resounding click. We throw the lever into 1st gear and launch. The car leaves the line spritely, but accelerates in a milder way than anticipated. You can feel the presence of the electric motor, but it's quite subtle almost transparent.
It doesn't kick in like a turbocharger or supercharger giving you that sudden forward surge. From the seat of the pants, the car feels like it's powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.2- to 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. While we would have preferred more kick from the electric motor, the CR-Z doesn't feel slow by any means, just smooth.
So is it quick like a lightweight sports car? Not really. Our Honda representatives informed us that the car runs from zero to 62mph in 9.7 seconds, which makes it a full second quicker than a Toyota Prius. What's noteworthy about the CR-Z is how smooth it gets to cruising speed. It does so in a very linear manner just like a traditional gas-powered car.
While the car's acceleration character is quite similar to that of its hybrid stablemate, the Insight, the CR-Z's handling is in an entirely different class. In this department, the car truly feels worthy of the sporty-car label.
The biggest difference is how the rear end feels through corners. Unlike rear suspension in the Fit or the Insight, the stroke of the rear dampers have been increased, resulting in increased stability through corners and over bumps. And thanks the to the CR-Z's wider track, the car exhibits less body roll and better overall balance than either the Fit or the Insight, making it a delight to drive through turns. And despite possessing firmer dampers and springs than the Insight, it rides just as smoothly.
We also sampled the CVT-equipped CR-Z, and while we prefer the 6-speed manual, the CVT can be quite fun because of its manual mode. It allows you to manually choose gears via paddles behind the steering wheel. For economy-minded motorists, the CVT is definitely the choice because it allows the car to sip less fuel. The manual-gearbox CR-Z gets 22.5 km per liter in Japan's 10-15 mode, while the CVT returns 25.0 km per liter.