Airgate and JonasM review the new Honda CR-Z

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We’ve heard the stories from several automotive sites and the press releases from Honda about the new Honda CR-Z sports hybrid. Per Honda, this is a very promising vehicle that is supposed to be the beginning of a new era and the direction that their future products will take.

The response for the CR-Z as we mentioned in one our earlier posts ranges from guarded acceptance to disappointment. While we have not had a chance to test drive one ourselves (still waiting on Honda to give us a test opportunity) we have two members that have driven the car and shared their reviews with us. Click through to read the reviews of the CR-Z from Airgate and JonasM.

Airgate’s Review: So…I was one of those guys all excited about the CR-Z concept. Remember how ultra-slick that car looked as a concept…and sure, we all knew it wouldn’t look “EXACTLY” like that…but we didn’t expect the crazy front beak, nose…apparatus. Sure, folks can argue that it isn’t THAT bad and all…but for me, the side profile of this little car is not at all flattering.

Alright…so enough with that. I was pretty excited when me better half sent me a text just last week that read “Just saw a truckload of CR-Zs in Charlotte.” I was anxious to see the new CR-Z in person. Since so many of the photos didn’t make the car look that great…and of course everything I’ve read has trashed the car’s overall performance…BUT they seem to vindicate the car with “great handling.” So a week went by and no CR-Zs. Seems that truckload that was not for the local dealer’s drive event.

However…yesterday was the day. I received an email from Honda Cars of Hickory that read “We just received our CR-Z.” I called the local dealer and sure enough, “We have 2 that just arrived, a silver CVT and a black 6 speed.”

So I stopped by, checked it out but had to wait til morning for a test drive. The next morning, I visited and test drove the black “base” CR-Z as it was equipped with a 6 speed transmission.

Underwhelmed is probably the most honest way to explain how I felt about the CR-Z. It just didn’t have the “balls” needed to pull out of a nice twisty. The roads around here are pretty flat and straight…but we do have some short roads with decent twisties and while the CR-Z tracked well, I wasn’t impressed at all with the bouncy rear. Several times I felt like turning my head to the back and yelling, “What’s going on back there!??!”

You can see Honda made a much better effort on improving the interior finish of the CR-Z over say the Insight (which I owned for 7 mos, 19k miles), but it wasn’t anything to write home about.

I don’t know who would buy this car. The “base” model was well over $19k and I just can’t justify the money considering so many cars can be purchased for around this price. “Fun to drive” was the only thing I wanted to experience out of the CR-Z and it simply FAILED to deliver.

A real shame. I left the Honda dealer feeling like the excitement I had to see this car was all for nothing. I’m happy though that Honda made the S2000 and that’s all the car I need to make me smile.

JonasM’s Review: Final impressions out of the way first: Overall, I liked it. I’m not sure it would fit any niche that I might ever be looking for, but it’s a fun car.

I drove the base model – not that that matters too much. The engine & drivetrain choices are pretty much the same, as far as I know. This car had the 6-speed transmission (an automatic CVT is available).

I started the drive on city streets, in Eco mode. That didn’t last long. Pretty sluggish, WOT doesn’t do much. I got bored in about 12 seconds, and punched the “Normal” button. The car immediately surged ahead. It seems that, among other things, the different modes change the range of available throttle positions. Econ mode feels like WOT is really only 50% open. Normal allows maybe 75%, and Sport mode allows 100% (I have no idea how it really works, but that’s how it feels). Punching the Sport button added another surge at the same throttle position.

Coming from a Fit DD, the CR-Z’s acceleration is completely adequate, fun even. It only has maybe 14 more horsepower than my Fit, but it makes a very noticeable difference. Keeping it in Sport mode, the throttle has the typical Honda responsiveness. Chirping the tires is easy, though that probably has more to do with the stock tires. I wondered about the weight distribution, which most times felt fairly neutral, but maybe contributed to some extra weight off of the front wheels during acceleration.

The 6-speed transmission is Honda Gold. Enough said. Seats are reasonably supportive and comfortable. Seating position was excellent. I could see driving long distances without trouble. The view out the back is split between the smoked read glass, and the hatch window. It wasn’t too bothersome – the view out the back was good enough. There did seem to be a moderate blind spot towards the back passenger side, but it’s hard to tell when the passenger window is already blocked by the new car sticker.

One thing that was a bit annoying was the lack of tightness in the steering. Again, part of that may have been the stock tires (I wish I had looked at the brand & model), coupled with the overall mass of the car. On twisty park roads (low speed limits, so I had to do multiple passes – one to check for enforcement, one for speed), however, it seemed pretty sure-footed and planted the whole time. It was just turn-in that seemed a bit sluggish. I got quite a bit of tire squeal, but I think that I have already mentioned the tires. In turning around, I noticed that the CR-Z’s turn radius is nice and tight, just like my old CRX. Steering on the turns didn’t require more turns of the wheel than I was comfortable with, but I didn’t specifically note how quick the steering ratio was.

The one thing missing, from the perspective of the old CRX (I had a red 1985 Si), is the lightness, the ease of just tossing the car into a corner and zipping around a bend. The car feels far too substantial (I don’t want to say heavy) to be that kind of fun. I think the technology in this car pretty much eliminates the possibility of recreating that minimalist lightness.

Leaving aside any context of what the CR-Z is, who makes it, what it costs, and any other practical considerations, I enjoyed driving it.

Photos courtesy of airgate and JonasM

S2000 Forums-> Airgate’s Review
S2000 Forums-> JonasM’s Review

NOTE: S2KI welcomes the opinions of its members on the S2000 and on all topics related to the S. Should you feel the creative urge to pen a few words then by all means do so and PM Energetic, Aashish2 or Onehots2k OR send us links to what you would like us to write about and we will feature you (or your community) on the S2KI Home Page.

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