2011 Honda CRZ Hybrid Review

22 Фев 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2011 Honda CRZ Hybrid Review отключены
Honda CR-Z Electric Cars

2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid Review

It s hard these days to find a unique niche in the US auto market. There s a vehicle to suit basically any need and price range.  I mean, why else does Mercedes make the R-class and the CLS?  Does anyone really need a 500-horsepower 4WD AMG-engined Minivan?

 Not really, but Mercedes saw a niche and filled it.  Sometimes this practice of niche filling works out (Subaru Outback!) and sometimes it doesn t (GMC Envoy XUV!)  Honda saw an opportunity to both fill an empty niche in the market, and make a retro reference to one of their cult classics.  Thus was born the CR-Z hybrid, an odd amalgam of Civic CRX, first-generation Insight, and a touch of Prius.  And maybe Fiero.

 It s weird, but does it make sense?

Well, it depends on who you ask, and what you want to do with it.  If you ve got kids and cargo and a need to carry more than one passenger, no.  While the stubby little CR-Z is available in Europe with a set of (vestigial) back seats, here in America it s two or buy something else.

 There s a handy parcel shelf in the back (actually, probably a lot handier than seats that people with legs could never sit in) and a decent amount of room in the trunk especially with the rear shelf folded flat but it s still not a cargo hauler.

If you re a drag racer, also no.  While the CR-Z is currently the only Hybrid available on the market with a manual transmission (a six-speed with really nice throws), there s still only a total of 122bhp under the hood between the 1.5L single-cam 16v I4 (shared with the Fit, although larger than the 1.3L in the Insight than the CR-Z is based on) and the 13bhp DC brushless electric motor sandwiched between it and the transmission.

If you re a hyper miling fruit-of-the-earth greeny, still no.  The CR-Z returns decent mileage 31/37 with the six-speed manual, or 35/39 with the optional CVT but there are conventional cars with room for 5 people and stuff, priced comparably, that get better mileage without an electric motor.  The new Hyundai Elantra is certainly not as cool as the CR-Z (by a long shot), but it s 1.8L 140bhp engine returns 40mpg highway with either a six-speed manual or automatic.

 The new Focus and Cruze also return 40mpg ratings in various trims with more power and seats.  Honda s own Civic sedan, with a 1.8L manages to hit 41mpg in HF (non-hybrid) trim for 2012.  That s to say nothing of super-milers like the Prius, Jetta Diesel, etc.

So what s the point?  Well, it s something Honda s done before: a fun-to-drive, efficient, two seat commuter car.  Like the CRX that was so beloved in the 80 s, it s designed to get you and your stuff where you re going with good mileage, good looks, and a pinch of fun-to-drive.  Oh, and a load of technology.

 When you look at it in these narrow terms, it makes a lot more sense if that s what you re looking for.

On the tech side, Honda has managed to produce the only hybrid in the world that is actually fun to drive.  How?  well, the availability of a manual certainly helps.  But the big thing is the 3 Mode Drive System, which unlike most other car out there, actually does something.  There are three settings- Normal, Sport, and Econ.

 The mode selector affects throttle response, steering weight, the way the A/C acts, and more importantly, how much juice the electric motor adds to the equation at any given time as well as changing the color of the glowing ring around the tachometer.  Red for Sport, blue for Normal, green for Econ.  The CR-Z starts in Normal mode as default, and true to form, it s pretty normal it feels like a Fit with a low roof and an extra gear.  Throttle tip-in is totally linear, and since Honda s IMA can t run in all-electric mode, it really just feels like a normal car.  Switching to Econ basically ruins the fun and makes the car difficult to drive around town the throttle actually responds to input basically down at the floor, the A/C lowers it s fan speed, the steering is parking-lot light, and you re saving the whales.

 Top tip: when you get in the CR-Z, step one after starting it and buckling up is to engage Sport mode.

Sport mode stiffens up the steering weight considerably as well as makes the throttle razor-sharp, and increases the amount of juice the battery dumps in at part throttle.  The difference between Sport and Econ is night and day while the CR-Z crawls off lights in Econ, it jumps off them in Sport.  A neat trick as a result of this: hold the throttle at a steady position in Normal, then push the sport button, and feel the car accelerate as the throttle calibration changes.  This type of setup really makes Honda s IMA setup make sense a button to suit your driving mood that actually changes how the car drives?

 Neat!  On the back roads, Sport is a must the extra torque from the electric motor lets the CR-Z pull out of tight corners quickly in 2nd gear that it would struggle to power out of in normal.  After all, the gas engine is still a 1.5L single-cam there s not exactly a lot of low-end torque to be had.

Other tech goodies include a stop-start system that saves fuel when you re standing still (unnerving the first time you experience it, by the way did the car just stall?), which still doesn t factor into the EPA s mileage numbers, despite having proven real-world benefits.  When you pull to a full stop in neutral, the motor cuts out but the A/C continues running.  When you dip the clutch in to engage a gear, it fires up totally seamlessly since it uses the electric motor instead of a regular start to crank over, there s no chug-chug-chug .

What s really impressive is how at home the CR-Z feels on the highway.  Thanks to the decent gearing spread, it pulls about 3,000rpm at 80mph in sixth gear, which is unusually tall gearing for a small motor made possible thanks to the extra torque from the electric motor.  This is where Econ mode actually makes sense if you ve got the cruise set and you re driving to DC, why not maximize your fuel mileage?

 The light steering and slow throttle response is actually welcome on the highway, where the car doesn t feel so hyper.

The interior is mostly good news.  The materials are beyond reproach, and the design of the basic controls is very imaginative the separate tier for HVAC controls close to the steering wheel is a well-thought out ergonomic choice, the chunky 3-spoke steering wheels with hand controls is totally intuitive, and everything s labelled legibly and logically.  There are a few odd mis-steps for this type of car: no available sunroof (likely due to the rake of the roofline), no available leather seats, and what s up with the gigantic button to switch from MPH to KPH?  Can t that be a sub-control in a menu somewhere?


Styling is also a mixed bag, but definitely leaning more towards good than yikes.  The most evident CRX styling trait is the double-rear glass setup.  The glass on the hatch is pretty long, but it s raked at such an angle as to really only offer a few inches of height to see through, which is where the characteristic back light comes in handy.  It looks tiny from the outside of the car, but you basically see all traffic behind you through this thin vertical strip of glass, rather than the rear glass itself.  The Kamm-tail styling of the 1G Insight and CRX is clearly evident (as is some S2000 influence in the front valence,) but the CR-Z certainly isn t a retro vehicle by any means the surfacing and details are very modern and folded-origami.  It s lineage is obvious, but it s not a copy.

 The changeover from positive to negative surface area on the side adds a lot of interest visually, especially from a front 1/4 view.  However, viewed directly front-on wow, this thing s got a big nose.  I m sure it s related to a need to pass pedestrian safety regulations, but it s unfortunate that low hoodlines have been effectively legislated out of existance for world products.

So I ve talked about who won t buy a CR-Z.  Who will?  Well, I d say it s a car that will sell primarily on it s looks it s quite unique, especially in a color like the test car s North Shore Blue Pearl as well as the technology factor.  The mileage won t hurt, but buyers shopping purely on MPG s will look elsewhere.

 The reasonable base price, fun chassis, well-integrated and actually useful technology, and Honda reputation for reliability won t hurt either.  It s not for everyone, but that didn t stop the CRX from succeeding.  We ll see how the CR-Z holds up in comparison.

Also worth noting: Honda tuning arm Mugen will be displaying a prototype CR-Z at the Goodwood Festival of Speed that should fix the lack of power issue:

Yes, that s a supercharger.  Mugen claims a total combined output of 197bhp and 181lb-ft of torque from this setup, which also utilizes stronger internal components as well as that snazzy Mugen carbon-fibre intake, and of course it s got a Mugen bodykit, wheels, coilover suspension, upgraded brakes, etc.  Mugen says it s not intended for production, but I wouldn t be surprised to see the supercharger setup for sale considering how much RD cash they must have thrown into making this work right.

 Now that would be a proper CRX Si successor.  Honda: sell this as the CR-Z Si, and the Hybrid as the HF.  You know you want to.

Note: after writing and publishing this article, I came to a few more realizations about the CR-Z I felt I needed to add.

The really significant thing about the CR-Z, above all else, is this: It s the first hybrid that doesn t put the emphasis on A) being a Hybrid, OH MY GOD GUYS, check out my hybrid, I m so Eco-Conscious! or B) Blending in so people don t know I m driving a hybrid because I m a cheap skate.  It s the first hybrid that s actually fun to drive.  Even though it s not perfect (by any means), this is the first example of Hybrid technology making a car more fun to drive than it would otherwise be without it.  The inclusion of an electric motor and regenerative braking doesn t make the experience feel like a video game; it has tangible benefits in day-to-day driving for both the eco-conscious driver and the enthusiast driver.

 Would I like this car better with Honda s K20Z3 or K24A2 under the hood?  Absolutely I love lots of power and high revs.  But Honda s accomplished something I thought impossible until driving the CR-Z: a Hybrid that doesn t torture the driver.

 For that, they deserve some credit.

2011 Honda CR-Z Base 6MT Specifications

Base price: $19,200

Price as tested: $19,950

Honda CR-Z Electric Cars

Body: 3-door unit construction Hatchback

Drivetrain: Front-Transverse Engine, Front Wheel Drive, 6-speed manual transmission

Engine (gas) . I4, Aluminum Block Cylinder Head

Motor (Electric): DC Brushless (Permanent Magnet, AC Synchronous)

Battery: Nickel Metal Hydride, 100.8v Output, 5.75Ah Capacity

Fuel Tank Capacity: 10.6 gallons

Theoretical Range: 392.2 miles

Wheelbase: 95.9

Length: 160.6

Track (F/R): 59.6 /59.1

Width: 68.5

Height: 54.9

Curb weight: 2637lbs

Main Competitors: Mini Cooper, Fiat 500 Sport, Scion tC, Honda Civic Si 2dr, 2012 Hyundai Veloster, Mazda 3s 2.5i, 1989 CRX Si with a B16A swap, 1999 Honda Insight

Pros: Stylish, Decent fuel economy, Base Price, Nimble Chassis, 6-speed Manual In a Hybrid, Useful integration of technology, It s a Fun Hybrid!

Cons: Should either be better on gas or faster, no sunroof or leather available, mileage penalty for manual

Conclusion: It s no CRX, and it s no 1st-gen Insight, but it s still a cool, likeable car anyway.  Could be perfect for you anyway.

Thanks to Wayne Hunter and Rick Bricker at Leith Honda of Raleigh for the test drive and their time!

Honda CR-Z Electric Cars
Honda CR-Z Electric Cars
Honda CR-Z Electric Cars

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