Friday 15 December 2017

Hybrid with a sporting chance

The Honda CR-Z may look unusual, but is agile and has plenty of pep.
The Honda CR-Z may look unusual, but is agile and has plenty of pep.
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

HONDA this week unveiled its new hybrid CR-Z.

This is claimed as being the world’s first 6-speed manual hybrid sports car. It combines a 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine with the marque’s parallel hybrid system, which means emissions of just 117 g/km (€104 road tax) and 5l/100km.

This is an unusual-looking motor, as our picture shows, and Honda describes it as a ‘one-motion-wedge’.

The wide track and short wheelbase in this 2+2 coupe were set up for a sporty, agile drive and it handled well in a brief runout this week. It expects to sell around 80 next year with young/single buyers and eco-conscious ‘empty nesters’ making up the bulk of purchasers.

There are three modes: Eco, Normal and Sport built into the system so you can vary the throttle response – quite noticeable in Sport as the engine piles on the power – and how the steering feels etc.

There will be two trim levels from January1: ‘Sport’ will cost from €26,630 exworks, while the higher spec GT will be priced at €29,400. Expect an entry-level ‘S’ version next spring.

High-level standard equipment includes airbags; active headrests; cruise control; climate control; front electric windows; 16in alloys; electric/retractable mirrors; and rear parking sensors. GT trim adds panorama glass roof; front fogs; leather upholstery; heated seats; and rain-sensing wipers.

There’s a three-year warranty on the car and a five-year warranty on the IMA hybrid system. The CR-Z also has 5-star pedestrian and child protection Euro NCAP ratings.

Honda sees the VW Scirocco as the main rival but also views the likes of the MINI Cooper, Mazda MX5, and BMW 1-Series Coupe as contenders for the relatively small pool of buyers going into this market next year.

I drove it briefly and certainly in Sport mode there was plenty of pep. Honda has high hopes it will become an icon. It has outstripped sales predictions in Japan, so it will be interesting to see how it does here.

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