Honda’s CR-Z is a rare choice in the affordable sports coupe sector but a very pleasurable one. You don’t expect hybrid power in this class of car.
You don’t expect leather trim and a panoramic glass roof either for just over £20,000 in a model of this kind. Both are part and parcel of the top GT model we tried.
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. It’s not a promising start and was a formula not helped in the original version of this car by a decided modest 122PS power output, 14PS 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 in this GT variant if you’re quick with the beautifully sweet-shifting manual gearbox to reduce the 0-62mph time from 9.7s to 9.5s and offer a maximum speed of 124mph.
To help the driver make the best use of this sporty performance, Honda has introduced a Plus Sport (S+) boost system.
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, so the underpinnings are based on the chassis and drivetrain of the current generation Honda Insight hybrid but with a series of significant changes designed to make it feel a long way removed from that straight-laced family car.
It’s hard not to like this CR-Z. Even if you leave aside the hybrid benefits, it’s a clever choice. We’d be tempted to go for this top GT model, even though the larger 17-inch wheels do make their mark on performance and running costs. It looks and feels special. And isn’t that a big part of what owning a car like this is all about?