01.Honda CR-Z Sport
Price: From $38,875 (Sport), $45,388 (Luxury)
The Honda CR-Z has been awarded Car of the Year 2012 by Wheels magazine, so we took it for a spin to test out this sporty hybrid to see if it has the get up and go that we expected.
Like many hybrids, it offers different modes of driving – Sport, Normal and Eco. We spent most of our time in Normal mode, the default when you turn on the engine. It took 11.0 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h in Sport mode, which is adequate, but not particularly quick.
Overtaking is acceptable, as long as you are in Sport mode. The brakes feel powerful and will stop the car quickly from any speed – 9.7 metres from 50 km/hour. The steering is very communicative and direct which we really like.
The model we tested has a 6-speed manual gearbox, the first of its type we’ve seen on a hybrid. It works well, with a short throw and a sporty feel to it. The ride is firm so you will feel every bump in the road. It’s designed for sportiness, not comfort. It’s very sure-footed when cornering fast, more so than any other hybrid tested.
The cabin is reasonably comfortable - the seats are supportive and very comfortable, with a clear design to keep you in place. The dashboard and door trims are hard plastic.
As with most small cars, there is a fair bit of road noise entering the cabin when driving on rough roads, and wind noise is always present from the A-pillars over 100 km/h.
Rear visibility is restricted by a small back window and it has a horizontal divider that doesn’t help. While the wing mirrors have a curved design that compensates for the loss of rear vision through the window, it will take some getting used to. The dash is full of buttons and switches, which makes it a little cluttered.
The CR-Z claims to be a four seater, but in reality the rear seats aren’t usable except in emergency situations such as dropping someone off at a short distance; sitting in them is going to be uncomfortable for all involved.
While the Honda claims savings are 5.0 l/100 km, we found around 5.8l/100km, which is still pretty good.
However, you won't be making a lot of savings on fuel, and payback times on today’s prices would take many years compared to buying a non-hybrid at a less expensive price. Like other hybrids, the petrol engine turns off if you come to a stop, which means you're saving fuel.
This is a fun car to drive, but it’s not a primary car. It lacks some power that we expected due to its engine capacity but it handles very well in its sport mode and is economical.
For $5000 less you can get a car with more grunt, if performance is what you are after . If you are the sort of person who can afford a car just for fun, and want that car to be a hybrid, this is a great option.