2015_Honda_Cr-Z
Parks McCants's picture

2015 Honda CR-Z: Despite reports surprisingly fun to drive

Although I like the sports-coupe look of Honda’s last standing 2 door hybrid hatch, I was prepared to be disappointed by it’s overall performance; I stand corrected.
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I've always liked the quirky almost retro-space age look of Honda’s CR-Z. Sales have been painfully slow for Honda’s 2 place hybrid hatch. In 2014 as the iconic Insight the first Japanese built North American hybrid pioneer drove into the history books,Torque News and others predicted the demise of the once trendsetting Honda CR-Z 3 door hybrid hatchback.

In search of the perfect 2 place hatchback

You don’t see them much anymore. The day of the Fiat X-1/9, Honda Del Sol,Triumph TR7, GT6 and other iconic fun to drive but as practical as bubblegum stuck to braces 2 place coups or hatchbacks, ; long faded into memory for most of us. Most displaced by EPA safety regulations and failed crash test results lead to an era of heavier, safer iron.

A blend of historical design cue meets wind tunnel tested aerodynamics

Honda’s done a commendable job of updating the exterior styling of CR-Z. It’s an interesting exercise in auto-dynamics that visually pleases the eye. From the over-sized intake black out mesh grill to the well balanced and artfully integrated headlights, running lights, lower cowling and hood line, CR-Z hints at a racing heritage lost to a bygone era.

This thing is fat-tracked, stuck to the ground, swoop happy, hard line meets organic curved automotive architecture at its finest.

Interestingly enough one of my favorite design aspects of this visually stunning pocket-hatchback is the flush mounted, mold-like door handle. My test mule was Murano Red, the door handles looked like molded eye candy to this car nut. I find the integrated molded glass hatchback and split rear view cowling to be timeless.

Opening the rear hatch and folding the flush deck pony seat, I discovered a very usable utility space. My 2015 CR-Z EX 3 door hatch sported a hand stitched (looking) red piped seating, ventilated fabrics, nicely upgraded soft and hard surfaces and the coolest looking blue-light instrumentation dash in Honda’s lineup.

After adjusting the seat, at 6’5" this driver was comfortable while rediscovering his inner Kart enthusiast. You are sitting on the floor in CR-Z baby!. Which leads to a sense of old-school sports car confidence and attitude. I’m getting too long winded, you may read more about 2015 Honda CR-Z here.

The test drive

O.K, I won’t B.S. you here. CR-Z is not a quarter mile blazing BR-Z beating performance bar setting 2 seater; it just isn't. But when you get past that initial start from the green light, CR-Z combined stated torque of 127 ft-lbs comes on at 1,000 rpm and stays there through the mid-range. I don’t mention rated horsepower here because it doesn't tell the CR-Z story.

Note: The close ratio 6 speed manual equipped CR-Z develops 13 ft-lbs greater torque than the CVT variant. Why? I couldn't tell you, and yes, my friends at HPD will sell you a dealer installed supercharger kit for $6,000 Obama bucks or so + installation. This will put your CR-Z in high performance mode.

Despite what much of the automotive press will have you believe, CR-Z is not lacking torque or acceleration where it’s most needed. In-fact, I caught myself exceeding 75 mpg as I pulled onto the freeway; not good. Could it use greater power off of the line? sure, but most driver will not need it nor miss it. I’ve yet to talk to a CR-Z enthusiast that doesn't love their car.

The EX that I drove was equipped with a CVT transmission and paddle shifter, 3 mode drive selection, electronically assisted brakes a decent stereo system, smart steering wheel and Bluetooth ™. connect-ability. Sporting an MSRP of $23,423 + applicable sales tax and fees, our 2015 Cr-Z 3 door EX did not feature Honda-Link navigation, we didn't miss it.

Where I found CR-Z to work very well is on the skid pad. With a curb weight of 2811 lbs, a 95.9 inch wheelbase(Civic is 103) and 19.4 fewer inches of total body length, CR-Z can and does turn with Indycar agility and stability; it’s a true kick to drive!

What I’d change

Improved initial electric motor torque transference.
Improved electronically assisted power braking
This little Honda needs a backup camera in all trim variants.
Improved active and passive sound deadening.
Electric driver's seat.

That’s it. Despite what you've read in other automotive reviews, CR-Z is a quality Japanese crafted briefcase toting commuter with weekend car club tendencies. While it may live on the edge of sensibility, CR-Z is a great option for those wishing for a bit of fun in an economical sporty hybrid hatch. While CR-Z does not compete with Civic Si performance or 2015 Honda Fit utility, it does offer exceptional fuel economy and sport-like handling in a visually unique and exceedingly rare 2 place hatchback.


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Comments

You mentioned the Fiat X-1/9, Honda Del Sole,Triumph TR7...none of these vehicles were hatchbacks, not even close. AND, the Honda is spelled "Del Sol". You really should do some research before writing like you know what you're talking about.
Right you are RG. Thanks for paying attention to the content. However, I was referring to the demise of the micro coupe or two place in North America due to changes in demographics and safety mandates. I've owned or driven all models mentioned in the article. Take care...
Added a GT6 just for you...
Geez Parks, armchair editors, what would you do without them? Do you have no sole, excuse me, soul? I took out a CR-Z when last shopping and I agree, more fun to drive than one would expect. I looked around for a HPD version to test with none to be found. Hard to sell a car that you cannot find for a test drive. My understanding is the supercharger changes the cars personality completely, but few people will purchase based on, "say so". Another oddity is the lack of advertisement Honda offers on the CR-Z. You see plenty for the Civic and Accord, but the other vehicles in Honda's line, not much. Maybe that's why the rest of the Honda line up doesn't sell nearly as well, or is it vice-versa? It seems the bean counters at Honda do not see the return on their advertising dollars for their other vehicles, even though, as with the ,"Fit", some are excellent choices for the niche' they are designed for. What is perplexing is that as demonstrated with the Accord and Civic, when Honda puts its mind to Marketing, they can do an excellent job of it. "Thanks" for your views on a car that doesn't get much coverage elsewhere, but please get it right for those who can't think for themselves, in this case obviously referring to 2 seaters as opposed to hatchbacks, you should be flogged. I know I lost the gest of the article because the cars you refer to are not hatches, (as if you do not know what you are taking about, lol). I guess there is no pleasing some.
Thanks Jeff for watching my back. I've added a Triumph GT6 for RG, he or she is correct. Looking to European Honda news we find speculation as to a factory( next generation) CR-Z with turbo charged 1.5 liter i-VTEC 4; Pure speculation.The HPD supercharger and inner cooler kt is damn near $6 K + dealership install. I don't think we'll see many of them on the street. However, rated @ 190 hp, the supercharger would increase CR-Z performance exponentially + 40%.. Higher torque in an already impressive mid-range. Now that would be fun in this short channeled go kart.( hope I spelled kart correctly.) Always good to read you. Take care....
I thoroughly enjoy Torque. I have been a subscriber to, "Motor Trend" since the 70's, and read other car Mags as well. Even though I imagine their budget dwarfs Torque and have huge staffs, let me say they make their fair share of misspells and mistakes. It happens. In this case it is so nitpicking. Never mind you fellows offer your expertise up to the public for free, providing the forum you do. It's one thing to point out an error in a, "Civil" manner, quite another to turn it into a personal affront. Aside from the fact, my guess is the readers of this article knew full well the point you were making. Let those who insist on being derogatory try to do what you fellows do without making an err once in a while, ain't gonna happen! So really the, "Thanks" goes to you and the other motorheads you work with, you fellows make up a one of a kind, "Torque News" and I, for one, (with countless others I'm sure), appreciate it. A quick comment about the CR-Z, reminds me allot of the CRX SI I owned, one of the best, fun 2-seater hatches ever made, (if you squint your eyes, even looks like the CRX).Fun for the masses. All Best 2 U and the entire Torque staff, really the Best at what you do, occasional, "oops" and all, "Thanks"!
Good morning JeffS. Your compliment is most welcome. Jeff, we're a self-edited small group of dedicated automotive journalist from varied proffession and personal interest backgrounds. Thanks to you and a million of your closest friends, I'm participating in the carrier change of my dreams. Bringing decades of personal and professional automotive experience to the screen via the written word and photo(thanks to TorqueNews.Com) affords me the opportunity to share experience-driven insight with enthusiasts such as yourself. Take care and thank you.
I read the Bios on your staff, more should do so, a gaggle of diversified car nuts.
You're welcome to join JeffS...
In terms of raw fun how would this compare to a miata? I am considering getting this because i view it as almost a front drive hatch miata, is that an accurate description? Also if you have ever driven a first generation mazda 3 or protege5/02-03, how is it compared with that?
I had a first gen 05 mazda 3 5speed 2.3 as my last car 10 yrs and have driven an mx5 as well. I love my my new crz in spite of all the negative reviews. In terms of fun i enjoy it more than my mazda 3. I find the drivetrain incredibly smooth. I have the cvt even which is a welcome change from shifting 10yrs. The steering is good as my mazda 3. tighter in sport mode. the braking ability felt higher in my mazda but the 2.3 had very large brakes. same as a new si. mx5 is hard to beat but in terms of fun the crz is closer feeling being quicker steering short wheelbase and lower to the ground. if you need at least fwd as i do in the snow this is a solid choice. I find the mileage nearly 35-42, depending on how i drive it. which is a huge impro improvement over my previous mazda 3 which was 22-30, close to 22 in the congested city. I would agree with your idea of it being a fun fwd 2 seater. the cargo space is good. i put 2 ac units in the back recently. it never really feels like i dont have enough power driving. in sport mode pulling out from a stop it will even chirp the tires. I have felt for some time power not being as important to me. a car being fast is just a distance measured by time over a given road course, with the vast majority of that time being in the drivers skill. that being said i wouldnt want this car either if it felt like a slug,an 05 civic lx for reference, which it does not The crz is by any means a niche vehicle, 2 seats, fwd, cool styling, high mileage by anyones standard. more reviewers should have given it a chance is really a great car by my estimation having been a car enthusiast many years. i will look forward to my next 10 years of driving it ☺
Welcome John S. Thank you for your detailed commentary. Enjoy your CR-Z.
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