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