Honda’s CR-Z is an affordably-priced livewire sports coupe that rather uniquely, uses hybrid power for fun as well as frugality. Sensible, it seems, can also be sporty, especially in the case of this revised version, improved with more power, clever gadgetry and smarter looks.
Since we’ve already seen electrically-powered and diesel-engined sportscars, the concept of a hybrid sportster shouldn’t be too shocking, but somehow it still is. In the CR-Z’s case, that might have something to do with its creation from the platform of one of the least sporty cars Honda has ever made, the family-orientated five-door MK2 hybrid Insight.
In the CR-Z’s case, that might have something to do with its creation from the platform of one of the least sporty cars Honda has ever made, the family-orientated five-door MK2 hybrid Insight. It’s not a promising start and was a formula not helped in the original version of this car by a decided modest 122bhp power output, 14bhp from the electric motor and the remainder provided by a 1.5-litre VTEC petrol engine borrowed from a humble Jazz supermini. Hence the changes made to this revised model, with small but significant tweaks to both engine and electric motor pushing the collective output to a far more acceptable 137PS, good enough if you’re quick with the beautifully sweet-shifting manual gearbox to reduce the 0-62mph time from 9.7s to 9.0s and up the maximum speed to 124mph.
To help the driver make the best use of this sporty performance, Honda has introduced a Plus Sport (S+) boost system. If the battery is more than 50 per cent charged, the driver can activate this system using the S+ button on the steering wheel. When the accelerator is pressed, the electric boost begins, delivering increased acceleration for up to ten seconds. A flashing gauge on the dashboard indicates when the system is active.
There’s a smarter look to this facelifted CR-Z with a smarter front bumper, a revised grille, more striking alloy wheels and, at the back, a different aerodynamic diffuser design. The essentials though, remain as before.
This remains a fascinating car, a futuristic attempt to fuse frugality with a healthy helping of sheer fun. The extra power of this revised version is welcome but even with it installed, there are of course still many more dynamic and powerful sportscars and hot hatches in this market segment. And naturally, there are more efficient hybrids. Having said all that, there’s nothing else that enables you to bring the two extremes together with such a guilt-free glow.