The stylish new Honda CR-Z has been labelled ‘the world’s first sporty
hybrid’. This is no small claim by Honda, which already has the Civic
Hybrid and the Insight
as part of its greener, more environmentally friendly
range of vehicles. Does the new car fully earn the right to be called
the ‘CR-Z (sporty hybrid)’ in the current range of Honda hybrid
At first glance, it is hard to visualise the Honda CR-Z hybrid as an
environmentally friendly vehicle. In terms of looks and internal
styling, the CR-Z looks more like a traditional hot hatch. Indeed, at
first glance this car does not look like a trundling eco-warrior.
Forget hugging a tree, the CR-Z looks as though it could tear one down
and burn it, snarling while it does so.
Appearances can be deceptive, however. The CR-Z is a true hybrid car
The 1,497cc petrol engine comes fitted with Honda’s integrated motor
assist system (IMA). In non-technical language, this simply means that
an electric motor will assist in the powering of the car when viable.
The batteries are housed under the boot and are charged when the car
brakes. It's as simple as that.
Or is it?
The true genius behind Honda’s IMA system is that not only does it
supplement the car's petrol engine to increase horse power (from 113bhp
to 124bhp), but also that it is designed to deliver sporty performance
when needed and to be as environmentally and economically friendly as
possible when not.
The upshot is a car that reaches 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds and yet can
still achieve an economy rate of 56.5mpg and emit just 117g/km of CO2,
thus allowing it to avoid the congestion charge and qualify for the £0
rate of road tax.
Another aspect that Honda has done well to consider is that hybrid cars
only work as greener and more efficient vehicles if they are actually
driven that way. To assist the driver in this respect, Honda has
installed a three-mode drive system on the CR-Z, which allows the
driver to see at a glance which mode they are driving in. There is
Sport mode, which offers greater performance and power, Normal mode for
most forms of town driving and Economy mode, which obviously offers the
best in terms of efficiency of driving, burning less fuel and reducing
Furthermore, the mode you are currently operating in is displayed
clearly on the dashboard and is even colour co-ordinated so that you
cannot fail to see how you are driving. This is a nice touch for
drivers who would like the flexibility of being able to drive more
economically when viable, but who also still require the level of
performance that a traditional hot hatch would give them.
In terms of the Honda hybrid car range, the CR-Z fills an obvious gap.
The family Insight Hybrid is available for roughly the same price as
and offers similar levels of performance at 64.2mpg
and just 101 g/km of CO2 emitted. However, the Honda Insight hybrid is
aimed towards the family market and is designed as such, with features
aplenty that will appeal to a family seeking a car that is safe,
reliable and efficient and yet offers a touch of quality and level of
technology that is a rarity in a traditional family vehicle.
The Honda Civic Hybrid is a little more expensive but it is easy to see
where the additional money goes. This executive saloon has a look and
feel of genuine quality, but with performance levels of 61.4mpg and
just 109 g/km of CO2 emitted, it is in a league of its own when it
comes to running costs and efficiency, looks and style when compared to
cost and economy.
Indeed all three cars qualify for the £0 rate of road tax in the UK,
meaning that not only do they make economic sense to consider
purchasing, they make equally good financial sense when considering
running costs too, especially when you factor in the savings you will
make on fuel every month or so.
The Honda CR-Z hybrid is a welcome addition to the Honda family of
hybrid cars and is worthy of serious consideration for anybody seeking
a car that looks fantastic, is fun to drive, offers the perfect balance
between performance and efficiency and yet will not cost the Earth,
literally, to buy or run on a daily basis.