What makes a car popular? This is something that manufacturers have been trying to work out for decades as everyone would love to have a model that is as fondly remembered as the original Mini, Ford Capri or Mazda MX-5. It is difficult to put your finger on just what makes those cars so likeable but I think predominately it is their character. Whilst a mere collection of nuts and bolts in isolation can not project any sort of emotive connection, brought together they can stir emotions and that is what makes car culture so special. A car doesn’t have to be a huge sales success or headline grabbing to become a cult classic. Overtime new appreciation is often found and when the machine is revisited, that is when an affinity can often begin. Could this be so with the Honda CR-Z?
Production is coming to a close for the Honda CR-Z and the Japanese have no plans to replace the sporty hybrid coupe at this moment in time. Whilst sales were not what Honda had hoped and the car did have its critics, I always quite liked the quirky coupe.
With a “bread van” rear inspired by the Honda CR-X, itself something now sort-after, the CR-Z looks quite unlike anything else on the road today. It might be at the end of its life but it is machine that draws attention from passersby even when not in this cars unusual Energetic Yellow. A strong stance brought about by powerful shoulder lines gives the CR-Z a raked appearance.
The cabin houses the usual luxuries you would come to expect from Honda including a touchscreen infotainment system, heated seats and a glass panoramic roof in this GT model. Well bolstered leather seats hold you in place whilst the almost spaceship-like instrument panel comes to life. As you cycle through the three drive modes offered by the CR-Z, the instruments change colour. Green for economy, blue in normal and red when in sport. It is rather amusing how in economy if you start driving vigorously the cluster immediately turns red in an act of rebellion against your inefficient use. The CR-Z does seat four but the rear seats are only really suitable for children. Any attempt to put an adult in the back requires a degree in the art of human origami. Outside of Europe this car isn’t even sold as a 2+2 due to the lack of rear practicality, but here in the UK its rear bench helps lower the cars insurance group. The boot is of a good size for a coupe and is further extended when the rear seats are folded flat.
When you drive a Honda CR-Z you can really make the most of its hybrid packaging. This was one of the first cars to introduce the notion of not only saving fuel with a battery onboard, but also boosting the cars performance. The battery could be used to aid acceleration and in later 2013 models, the S+ button would activate an F1 KERS inspired 15 second boost of all the energy the battery had to offer. Hitting S+ upon corner exit is very satisfying as the instant torque surges you onwards and then allowed the power band of the petrol engine to take over. As a car to take for a blast down some country roads, the CR-Z quits itself well. In Sport mode the steering gains weight and throwing the car into a corner reveals the high levels of grip which can be exploited. The six speed manual gearbox is a great playmate when it comes to having fun in the CR-Z. The rev happy engine sounds excellent ad when combined with the S+ button the car actually feels quicker than its 135BHP lets on.
Whilst the Honda CR-Z may have been criticised for not being overly efficient for a hybrid, at an official 54.3MPG in GT trim, this car has that aforementioned character. It is unique in a way that will become very hard for future cars to emulate. I predict in 20 years time that there will be little CR-Z clubs springing up and people scouring the classified just like they do for the CR-X today. Cult classic? Give it time and think the CR-Z will only gain in status.
Check out our full review of the Honda CR-Z HERE.