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This is the long-awaited Honda CR-Z, a car Honda claims is the reincarnation of its allegorical CRX hatchback. It’s a 122-hp amalgam two-door that ambles to 60 mph about as bound as a Toyota Prius. Say what?
The Honda CR-Z is added than what lovers of simple, compact, sporty, failing Japanese cars were…
Full Disclosure: Honda flew a host of journalists to San Francisco and put them up in a nice auberge on the Embarcadero — the aforementioned auberge acclimated for one of the 2011 Ford Fiesta launches — for the barrage of the 2011 CR-Z. Because I lived in the breadth at the time, I artlessly collection downtown. I additionally took a Honda-sponsored bout of the California Academy of Sciences, a absolutely air-conditioned abode that has a dejected bang skeleton blind from the ceiling. If this analysis is biased, it’s alone because I acquisition bang basic impossibly cool.
At continued last, the U.S.-spec Ford Fiesta is here. It is hardly added than its European…
No amount how you allotment it, the Honda CR-Z is an absorbing car. Bristles months ago, aback the CR-Z debuted at the Detroit auto show, it was met by a beachcomber of accessible indifference. “Fat,” said the pundits. (A barrier weight of aloof over 2800 pounds, which seems absorbing until you accede the car’s 95.8-inch wheelbase and 55-inch height.) “Slow,” they said. (122 hp at 6000 rpm.) “Small and silly,” they said. (Two seats, 25.1 cubic anxiety of accumulator with the rear allotment folded.)
Also, ammunition abridgement — 31/37 mpg with the accepted six-speed manual, or 35/39 with the alternative CVT — wasn’t impressive.
Us, we were aloof confused. Hell, I own a CRX — an ’88 Si, one of two that accept anesthetized through my driveway — and afterwards spending a half-hour walking about the CR-Z on the appearance stand, poring over the numbers, and aggravating to accomplish faculty of my disappointment, I larboard puzzled. I appear the afterward fifteen account later:
Honda wants you to accept that the CR-Z is the reincarnation of the allegorical CRX. It should have…
How did this happen? A actor questions pop into my mind: If mileage, not marketing, is the goal, again why doesn’t the CR-Z accept a tiny, high-revving gasoline agent – or, bigger yet, Honda’s accomplished agent four – beneath its hood? Is a power-to-weight arrangement of about twenty-three pounds per application declared to be fun, or alone fun by comparison? (I accept that annihilation is absorbing abutting to a Toyota Prius, but “better than blah” doesn’t accomplish for abundant of an ad line.) Isn’t a fun, anxiously engineered, minimalist access to the amalgam botheration absolutely what anybody expects from Honda? And in what apple does a two-seat, 2800-pound fuel-economy appropriate — remember, the abject Civic weighs 2630 pounds, has a aback bench and a ample trunk, and offers 34 mpg — accomplish that expectation?
Other accordant facts: The 1984-1987 CRX advised aloof over 1800 pounds. The second-generation car, produced from 1988 to 1991, hovered about 2000 pounds. A host of altered models — including the gas-sipping CRX HF, which offered over 50 mpg by aeon EPA standards — were offered through the years, and all of them were quick, nimble, and fun to drive. They fabricated sense.
What, adjure tell, is this?
If you’ve been advantageous attention, the capacity are adamantine to miss: The front-wheel-drive CR-Z uses a agilely adapted adaptation of the amalgam drivetrain begin in Honda’s five-door Insight, a apparatus that boasts all the motive action of a allotment of acknowledgment on a skateboard. It additionally uses a adapted adaptation of that car’s platform, admitting with weight-saving aluminum ascendancy arms, added adamant front-hub bearings, lighter wheels, a added rear arbor beam, and a 30% added able motor for the electric ability council system.
The Big H claims that the CR-Z is the aboriginal “truly sporty” hybrid. During the launch, John Mendel, the company’s controlling carnality president, claimed that the car was “as abundant about the active acquaintance as our charge to ammunition economy.”
You apperceive what? He’s right. Affectionate of.
The CR-Z’s agent is the aforementioned 1.5-liter i-VTEC SOHC four begin in the Fit; it makes 128 lb-ft of torque aback anchored to a chiral manual (123 lb-ft with the CVT), and it does so amid 1000 and 1500 rpm. Some 58 lb-ft of that comes from the amalgam system’s electric motor, but from abaft the wheel, you’d anticipate you were in a acceptable gasoline-powered car. The agent responds to your appropriate bottom like a Fit with a heavy, inertia-preserving flywheel, but it additionally doesn’t apperception actuality revved and — delay for it — doesn’t feel like a hybrid.
What does that mean? Simple: This is calmly the best cellophane amalgam produced to date. There’s no dispatch billow beneath abundant load, no asleep bombinate from the agent bay, no soul-sapping bleh aback you ache the appropriate pedal. Ignore the amalgam system’s agreement buttons (Eco, Normal, Sport; they adapt burke acknowledgment and the electric motor’s abetment level) on the dash, and the car reminds you of a sleepy, sedated Fit.
Predictably, there’s a catch: The CR-Z is not a fast car; it is not alike a quick car. Dispatch estimates weren’t accessible at the time of this writing, but Road & Track activated a Japanese-spec model, a car about identical to the American one, and hit 60 mph from blow in 10.5 seconds. The CR-Z feels faster than this, but not by much.
Handling is about as you’d expect. Mild understeer gives way to abstinent understeer aback pushed; about-face adherence ascendancy off and lift in the average of a corner, and the car gradually oversteers. (That’s the analytic answer. The abstract acknowledgment is that the CR-Z cranks into corners like a CRX — a awfully berserk abettor — that grew up, got a little lazy, and ate too abundant tempura.) In added words, it’s no Civic Si, but it’s still moderately entertaining. Part of this is assuredly due to bendable arising and damping — the CR-Z rides like a cloud-filled couch over alike the crappiest of pavement.
Random facts that popped up in my addendum but aren’t accordant to the aloft information: Hill abetment is accepted on manual-transmission cars. Aback the car goes on auction in August, there will be three models (CR-Z, CR-Z EX, and CR-Z EX Navigation), bristles exoteric colors, and one autogenous blush (silver). Seventeen-inch auto will be optional. Honda brought a first-generation CRX Si to the CR-Z barrage and let journalists drive it, but if I started comparing the two cars, you would apparently get depressed.
Pricing has not yet been announced, but Honda claims to be aiming for a ambit that “starts beneath $20,000 and goes up to aloof beneath $24,000.”
Where does that leave us? Let’s abutting things out with a adduce from the CR-Z’s arch engineer:
“We capital a car that would accelerate people, a car that alone Honda could create.” —Norio Tomobe, Ample Project Leader, Honda CR-Z
Hm. I apperceive you did, Norio, and I durably accept that, accustomed what you had to assignment with, you did your best. Is this the best absorbing amalgam car money can buy? Yes. Is it what I appetite and, frankly, what the bazaar needs? Not quite.
Make no mistake: The CR-Z is not a bad car. But there’s article missing actuality — it lacks a assertive Honda joy, the affectionate of less-is-more, sharp-engineering vibrance that you acquisition in aggregate from a Civic CVCC
to a bare Fit or S2000. I accept that the car was advised with two acutely adverse purposes in mind, and I apperceive that, at atomic in this case, weight and achievement are abundantly angry to price. Bodies who don’t charge a aback bench or a lot of baggage space, bodies who appetite appropriate ammunition abridgement and modern-car convenience, they will buy this. They will acceptable not affliction that the CR-Z isn’t the fun, inspiring, fuel-friendly car that the CRX was. But that doesn’t beggarly that we shouldn’t.
The takeaway? The car you see actuality is a decent, admitting not remarkable, acknowledgment to the Where’s the fun in green? question. It does what it was advised to do, and we should apparently booty alleviation in that. The CR-Z may not be absolutely what the enthusiast wants, but at the actual least, it’s a footfall in the appropriate direction.
Photo Credits: Sam Smith/Jalopnik
Seven Reasons Why People Love Honda CR-Z | Honda CR-Z – Honda CR-Z
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