The Honda CR-Z was awarded Car of the Year in 2012 by Wheels magazine. We take it for a spin to see if this hybrid has the get up and go that it promises.
Like many hybrids, the CR-Z 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 okay, but not particularly quick.
The overtaking power is also decent, as long as you're in Sport mode. The brakes feel powerful and will stop the car quickly from any speed. The steering is very communicative and direct, which we really like.
The model we tested has a six-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'll feel every bump in the road. It's designed for sportiness, not comfort.
The CR-Z is very sure-footed when cornering fast, more so than any other hybrid we've tested.
The cabin is pretty comfortable. The seats are supportive, with a clear design that keeps you in place. The dashboard and door trims are hard plastic.
As with most small cars, there's a fair bit of road noise entering the cabin when driving on rough roads, and wind noise is always present from the A-pillars (either side of the windscreen) when travelling at speeds over 100km/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, they'll 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, so they'll be uncomfortable for anyone riding in the back half of the car.
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 helps save fuel.
The CR-Z is a fun car to drive, but it's not going to cut it as your primary set of wheels. It lacks some power that we expected due to its engine capacity, but it handles very well in its sport mode and is economical.
If you're after performance, spend $5000 less and you'll still get a car with more grunt. If have the cash to buy a car just for fun (and want that car to be a hybrid) this is a great option.
Cost: from $38,875 (Sport), $45,388 (Luxury)
Fuel usage claim vs measured per 100km: 5.0L vs 5.8L
Acceleration to 100km/h: 11s
Braking distance from 50km/h: 9.7m
ANCAP safety rating: 5 out of 5 stars