Road Test

Road Test: 2011 Honda CR-Z

October 4, 2010

Honda CR-Z 2010_01Honda’s new two-door, the Honda CR-Z is based on the Insight hybrid, but has sportier tune. Honda CR-Z’s wheelbase is 115 mm shorter than the Insight, but has a wider track width for better driving dynamics. Honda CR-Z is also lower and has a smaller weight. Honda CR-Z is intended to be sporty and environmental at the same time. The one-motion wedge form, compact dimensions, light-weight construction and aerodynamic design help to improve performance and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Car’s rear end resembles Honda’s CR-X model from the 80’s, especially the curved roof and sharp angled rear glass. This car was equipped with tinted rear windows, 16″ alloy wheels, LED-daytime driving lights and Xenon headlights.

The engine is basically the same as the 1.3-litre used in Insight, but just a bit bigger. As a result we have a little bit more power and torque. 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, 16-valve i-VTEC gasoline engine (114 hp / 145 Nm) serves as the primary power source. CR-Z is equipped with the latest version of the Honda’s compact and lightweight hybrid system called IMA. Integrated Motor Assist is a parallel hybrid powertrain that increases efficiency through the electric motor’s power assist, energy regeneration and idle-stop capabilities. The auxiliary electric power engine delivers 14 horsepower and 78.4 Nm. As a result the combined peak power is 124 horsepower and torque 174 Newton metres.

CR-Z has a 6-speed manual gearbox offering the best solution for sporty driving and fuel economy. The manual gearbox gives the CR-Z a very different character from existing hybrid models. The gearbox has been developed with the enthusiastic driver in mind, with a short shift throw (45 mm) and a firm but light action that encourages the driver to change gears regularly. Tolerances of the shift mechanism components have been optimized to reduce free play in the mechanism. The detent is a component that controls the movement of the shift lever and this area was the subject of a great deal of attention to achieve a positive click with each gear change. Even with a six-speed gearbox and sporty shift action, it is not essential to continuously work the CR-Z’s gearbox. The low end torque of the engine and IMA system means in-gear flexibility is also impressive.

A Shift Indicator Light (SIL) system uses arrows on the instrument panel meter cluster that suggests to the driver when to shift up or down for efficient driving. The system is designed to help the driver control the engine speed in a range where it has best efficiency for each driving situation. The SIL also interacts with the Eco Assist ambient meter around the tachometer. When fuel economy decreases, the SIL gives an indication to shift gears and the ambient meter transitions from green to the intermediate blue-green color.

Driver can choose between three different driving modes; SPORT, NORMAL and ECON. The system is activated via three backlit buttons to the left of the steering wheel. Normal mode provides standard settings for steering, engine response, motor assist and air conditioning. During ECON mode operation, the engine’s responsiveness is tuned for optimal economy, the electric motor assist gives priority to fuel efficiency and the air conditioning system can reduce its overall load on the engine.

The SPORT mode enhances multiple vehicle systems for performance including the engine throttle responsiveness, electric power steering effort and the power delivery curve for the electric motor power assist. The chosen driving mode also changes the color of the inner ring of the tachometer. In NORMAL and ECON modes the color of the ring transitions between blue and green indicating how economical your driving is, while in the SPORT mode the inner ring of the tachometer illuminates red.

Comparing to the Insight, CR-Z’s performance is is clearly better, especially in the SPORT mode. CR-Z is a sportier hybrid, but not yet a the sport hybrid we hoped it would be. After all the fuel economy comes first in this car and the sportier feel is just an extra. If you’re thinking of buying a hybrid, but Insight feels too dull, then CR-Z could be the car for you. But if you’re looking for performance and sporty driving experience from you’re new car, then the CR-Z might be a little disappointment.

Specification

Engine/cylinder

  • Petrol
  • 4-cylinder
  • 1497cc
  • Hybrid

Power

  • 91 kW (124 hp) / 6100rpm

Torque

  • 174 Nm / 1000-1500rpm

Transmission

  • 6-speed manual
  • FWD

0-100km/h / 0-62mph

  • 10.0 seconds

Top speed

  • 200 km/h

Fuel consumption

  • 5.0 l/100km

CO2 emissions

  • 117 g/km

Honda CR-Z 2010_04

 

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