Not All See the CR-X in Honda’s CR-Z
DETROIT — Honda’s telling anyone who will listen that the CR-Z hybrid is the new CR-X.
Not everyone’s buying it.
We’re as guilty as anyone of believing the hype, and I’ll withhold judgment until driving one. But Sam Smith over at Jalopnik isn’t waiting. He’s made a pretty good argument that the CR-Z hybrid, unveiled in production trim here at the North American International Auto Show, is a pretender to the throne.
“It’s a hybrid, it looks cool, and it’s likely to be more entertaining than most green cars,” he writes in his post. “But to my mind, it’s a perfect example of product Fail.”
For the record, Smith owns a 1989 CR-X Si. I’ve owned a ‘90 Si, just like the one pictured at right, and an ‘87 HF. Both were fantastic cars. Even the 58-horsepower(!) HF made a winding road lots of fun. The CR-X proved a car could offer decent performance, excellent handling and superlative fuel economy in an attractive package.
Smith is right in saying the CR-Z doesn’t measure up on paper. It weighs 2,670 pounds and has just 122 horsepower to haul all that bulk. The first-gen CR-X weighed between 1,713 and 1,978 pounds and produced as much as 135 horsepower depending upon the trim level and year. What’s more, the CR-Z is built on the same platform as the 2010 Insight, a car that offers all the driving excitement of a shopping cart.
There’s more than performance at issue here. A lot of people are harping about the car’s 36 mpg (combined), saying it’s appalling for a compact hybrid two-seater. The loudest critics note that the ‘89 CR-X HF got 41 in the city and 50 on the highway under current EPA standards. They’re comparing apples to oranges. The ‘89 HF produced 62 horsepower and weighed 836 pounds less than the CR-Z. It also didn’t have airbags, or traction control, or a six-speaker audio system, or power everything, or navi, or…. All that stuff adds weight, which is an enemy of fuel economy.
But the guys at Jalopnik don’t care much about that, and Smith’s point is simple: The CR-Z is not the new CR-X. It’s not a car that, as he put it, will “make any winding road its bitch” like the CR-X.
I really hope that’s not the case, because the hybrid segment needs a sports car. Perhaps more importantly, Honda needs a sports car. It needs a new CR-X as much as we do.
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