When Honda introduced the CR-Z, it was maligned for being the jack of all trades, but the master of none. That being said, its single biggest contribution is to prove that gasoline-electric hybrids aren’t dull to drive; that they aren’t just smart appliances on wheels. It showed that a car packing a small gasoline engine and a trick battery can dance pretty much through corners just as well as a standard sporty coupe. But is that all to it? Is the CR-Z simply going to be labeled as the tree hugger’s sporty car?
Well, Honda isn’t letting things slide that way. Two years on and here comes the tweaked and massaged CR-Z. It still doesn’t pack a screaming K20 engine as the worshippers of the Temple of VTEC would have wanted, but it does come with some changes both aesthetically and mechanically that, at least, gives it some much needed road cred.
First thing’s first: the Siamese-twin of an engine, the 1.5-liter i-VTEC/IMA electric hybrid system remains unchanged. It produces the very same 135 combined horsepower and 171 Nm of torque as before. The figures don’t wow from the spec sheet perspective, but with maximum torque available almost instantaneously, this car is quick off its feet. The big letdown is the CVT which makes the drive experience feel closer to a conventional hatchback as opposed to a sports car. There’s ample push, but not enough to provide a great feeling of excitement.
New for this year is the inclusion of Active Noise Control with Active Sound Control (ANC with ASC). While its acronym sounds more like a television station than anything else, it does heighten the CR-Z’s driving characteristics even if you’re just puttering around in traffic. Using the stereo speakers, the engine sound is either canceled out or enhanced based on the current driving mode selected. In ECO and Normal, it makes the interior quieter while in Sport, it allows more engine noise to permeate the cabin. Notice the choice of words: ‘noise’. The CR-Z doesn’t exactly have the sportiest engine note of the bunch, but at least you have to give Honda credit for trying, right?
While the CR-Z still isn’t the best hot hatch/sports car out there in terms of straight-line performance, it holds out on its own in terms of handling. Not only does the widened rear track result in a sexier back, it makes the turn-in response sharper and the car feel more stable when pushed. It can’t compare to a proper rear-wheel drive sports car, but it provides enough excitement through its communicative steering. The ride is firm, but not discomforting at all. Long drives are easy-peasy.
On the subject of long drives, it’s worth noting that the CR-Z doesn’t exactly have the most spacious interior out there. Despite having a rear bench, it’s vestigial at best with no one above 160 centimeters able to fit in comfortably. Drop that down though and the hatch can swallow a good amount of gear, but the sharply raked rear glass does mean larger suitcases won’t fit. And with a small 40-liter tank and a mileage that stretches to just 9.62 km/L, the range is a paltry 385 kilometers. That’s a shame considering the comfortable interior enables the front passengers to enjoy long drives without tiring out.
The biggest criticism thrown against the CR-Z before is how much is still looked like a Jazz, especially from the front. One can opt for the Modulo or MUGEN body kits, but they do cost a pretty penny. For this update though, Honda has fundamentally addressed the issue by visually making the CR-Z sportier inside and out. The front and rear clips have been visually widened while incorporating the Solid Wing motif. The rims designs are also new while still keeping the 205/45R17 size as before. The color combinations are also bolder with two-tone finishes on some colors (like this Helios Yellow Pearl) adding to its standout quality.
Inside, it’s been thoroughly tweaked to match its competitors spec-for-spec. While the black and orange color scheme clashes with the already shouty exterior color, the addition of the passive entry system with push-button ignition, 7-inch touchscreen with navigation, auto lights and wipers, electric parking brake, and a multi-angle reverse parking camera all make welcome additions.
The 2016 Honda CR-Z still isn’t a hundred percent sports car, but neither is it simply a hatchback pretending to be sporty. It’s still not the perfect driving machine by any measurement, but there’s no denying the improvements in both dynamics and features. Traditionalists will still scream for VTEC, but as it is, the CR-Z is proof of Honda’s commitment to take on the challenge of engineering a sports car not bound by traditional rules; whether or not that’s acceptable is entirely up to you.
2016 Honda CR-Z CVT
|Ownership||2016 Honda CR-Z 1.5 IMA Hybrid Navi CVT|
|Year Introduced||2013 (Refreshed: 2016)|
|Vehicle Classification||Sports Car|
|Body Type||3-door Sports Hatchback|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Displacement (liters)||1.5 + IMA Hybrid System|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||135 @ 6,600|
|Nm @ rpm||171 @ 4,800|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,195|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Torsion Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Rear Brakes||Solid Disc|
|Tires||Michelin Pilot Sport 3 205/45 R 17 W|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||No, with Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|