Back in the 1980’s Honda gave us the lovely hatch-coupe; the CRX. This quickly became popular as a hot hatch, fighting for a piece of the pie, currently or owned back then by the Golf Gti. It featured a 1.6 Dohc engine, making 92kw and for its time, was pretty quick. Until today, the CRX is a fine example of what Honda has given us, and a neat and original example can still fetch a pretty penny. That’s if you can find a neat one, however.
The CRZ, a reincarnation of the previous CRX, is a gorgeous car. No matter how you look at it, there simply is not another Car that looks like it on our South African roads today. People will stop and stare, often asking what it is and well, how it “goes”.
The CRZ is powered by the 1.5 IMA engine, also found in the Hybrid Jazz and the Insight Hybrid. Only difference is, the CRZ is mated to a lovely 6 speed manual gearbox. It makes a maximum of 91kw with assistance of the electric motor. There is also 174nm available, also from the electric motor. One has to remember that this is, in reality, only a 1.5 engine and on paper – it looks mighty impressive. What makes it even more impressive is that it’s a regular single overhead cam engine, with 16valves. Obviously, Honda has their I-Vtec valve timing and magic going on in the head. The 16 valver pulls nice and strong through the rev range with added boost from the electric motor, depending on how far you decide to go with the accelerator. It’s not earth shattering, but it’s no slouch either. Weight at just over 1.1 tons; it really does get up and go without any trouble. 0-100 is claimed at 10 seconds flat with a top speed of 200km/h.
Jump into the driving seat and you realise that this is not your run of the mill, every day Civic. The seats are covered in grey leather and, while this feels luxurious, I would have liked the seats to have been a little sportier. The rest of the interior, with its aluminum gear knob and start button, all mimics a sports car or hot hatchback, but the theme is not carried completely throughout the car. This is just my preference and yet there will be people who agree and disagree with me. The Futuristic electronic dashboard makes it feel like you have just strapped yourself into a stealth bomber fighter jet, with lights and menus till kingdom come. I particularly like it, especially with the 3 mode driving indicators, making the dash go green, blue or red, depending on your driving style and the current mode that you are in.
In ‘Eco’ mode, the car cuts back on power, or so it feels. Throttle response is slowed down drastically and the steering is extremely light. The CRZ almost feels like a 1000cc and fuel economy decreases. I can see how getting 5.0l/100km is entirely possible. Push the ‘normal’ mode button and the dials go from green to blue and occasionally green, depending on how you are driving, but the throttle response is a lot better and the car feels pretty good while driving around. There is enough torque for city driving and enough power for overtaking on the highway. This is a great everyday driving mode. The stop/start option is still engaged in the normal mode as well as the eco mode.
Pressing the ‘sport’ button makes the car a little angrier. The steering gets stiff and sporty and the throttle response is extremely sharp. The car also gets maximum power from both the electric motor and the engine. Fuel consumption is obviously impacted in this mode, but sometimes you can’t help but have a little fun. Driving with no fuel economy in mind, we returned 6.5l/100km and, with a tank capacity of 40l, we got just over 550km to tank when the reserve light came on. Not bad at all by my standards.
The radio is a front loading CD player with mp3 support and also USB support hidden cleverly in one of the compartments in the dashboard. It also features a line-in from any other music source, so you can really listen so your music any way you want. There are 7 speakers, including a subwoofer which is located in the boot of the car. The little woofer compliments the sound nicely and is never over powering. It also fills up the music gap that is usually missing in most hatchbacks with only speakers in the rear doors.
From the steering wheel you can control the audio, the info centre and the cruise control. The info centre, much like any other Honda will tell your current range, instantaneous km/l and also your current economy figures for the last trip. It obviously has an odometer and a digital speedometer with analogue tachometer. Thankfully there is a dimming switch at night, because those colours are pretty bright, even in the daylight.
The boot size, with the seats up, is 197liters and with them folded flat expands to 370liters. While this is not earth-shattering, you have to remind yourself that this is in fact a sporty hybrid, rather than a people carrier and with effect that if you are tall, there is no way that any normal sized occupant can fit into the rear seats without having their legs around their neck. Kids may be able to fit, but I find it hard to see that 2 adults of an average 1.8 meters will fit in the back, unless of course the driver is only 1.5m tall.
There are 6 airbags front, side and curtain so in the event of an ‘oops’, be sure that there is decent safety equipment to protect you. The vehicle stability control is also very aggressive and will quickly interrupt the power to keep the car safe, should it detect wheel spin or traction issues. The HID headlights with daytime running lamps work very well at night. They are only HID for the low beams. Normal halogen headlights take over the duty of the hi-beam.
The CRZ is so unique that there are probably only a few on our roads. If you are looking for a more eco-friendly car that still looks like a hot hatch and has the rarity on our roads like a supercar then I really hope that you take this car for a drive. It’s backed by Honda’s 100 000km/ 3year warranty and carries a 90 000, 5 year service plan with service intervals at 15 000km
Priced at R310 500 it may be sitting in the corner all by its own, but there is no other car like it on the road.