The 2011 Honda CR-Z sport coupe is NOT your old Honda CR-X. Isn’t, wasn’t and never will be. Nor was it meant to be.
The new Honda CR-Z may occupy some of the same cosmic cerebral continuum as the old CR-X, but the Honda CR-Z is its own car with its own mission. According to Honda, the 2011 Honda CR-Z was “(d)eveloped as a stylish, driver-focused vehicle with an emphasis on efficient ‘green’ performance…a sleek, two-passenger coupe design with quick, sporty handling (in the) gasoline-electric hybrid segment.”
In other words, it’s a hybrid. Just not a boring one. It’s the glass half full.
More than half full Actually, there’s more to it than that. The 2011 Honda CR-Z is distinctively styled, particularly the “notched” rear end with its dual rear windows, one vertical across the tailgate and the other almost horizontal with the standard-equipment rear wiper.
The side panels of the CR-Z have a pair of creases that emphasize the cars wedge-shaped profile while the front sports a large radiator grille with an opening actually only half the size it seems. The top half with the three horizontal bars is blocked off. Only the lower half is open to the radiator. Headlights are fashionably huge and 16-inch alloy wheels/tires live under haunch-like flared fender . A short overhang, wide track and the chopped rear end gives the Honda CR-Z a bob-tailed race car look.
The CR-Z is what a sporty coupe should be inside as well. In its home market the 2011 Honda CR-Z has tiny rear seats; two seaters are officially considered antisocial. Honda is more realistic for the North American market, replacing bucket seats with just plain buckets for whatever will fit.
The CR-Z has true sport seats up front, well-bolstered with a durable feeling cloth for an industrial chic. Someone spent a lot of time styling the inside door panels with more curves than a bucket of eels. Our test 2011 Honda CR-Z EX Navi had a crisp two-tone interior color scheme on the doors, dash and seats.
The 2011 Honda CR-Z yields practicality to fashion with a high cowl and a rising shoulder line. Combined with rear side windows that shrink to a tiny triangle plus wide C-pillars, rear three-quarter vision is almost blind. Vision out the back is split horizontally. It blocks the headlights of a following car but the driver of the CR-Z can see whether the following car has a lightbar on its roof. A CR-Z driver will have to learn to keep track of traffic behind the car.
The 2011 Honda CR-Z offers as an option a continuously-variable transmission with paddle-shifters to imitate a manual transmission. The CR-Z, however, has something no other hybrid has: a manual transmission, a regular three-pedal row-your-own six-speed gearbox. A heavy-duty machined-from-the-metal shift lever resides on the center console.
IMA hybrid, how about you? The Honda isn’t a full hybrid but a partial or parallel hybrid, like other Hondas, with Honda’s “Integrated Motor Assist.” Honda’s IMA uses an electric motor on the transmission that boosts performance when the driver’s right foot asks for it. It allows Honda to downsize the engine– smaller engines get better gas mileage–while maintaining bigger engine performance.