The 2016 Honda CR-Z breathes life back into the once popular Honda CR-X with a modern twist and an advanced engine configuration. Perhaps the shape of the exterior is all that remains from the original CR-X concept and with the new hybrid engine configuration, aftermarket engine and performance modifications may prove more difficult.
ENGINE & DRIVE
The 2016 Honda CR-Z isn’t your conventional hybrid that switches between electric and gas motors for optimal efficiency. Instead the gas motor works full time supported by the electric motor which assists with accelerations and power when required. Similar to conventional hybrids, the CR-Z recharges the battery when braking and coasting.
So, what does this all mean? First off, the 2016 CR-Z can’t be compared to a conventional hybrid since it utilizes the electric motor to assist rather than drive at slow speeds. The result is a much smoother drive without the delay, vibration or noise from switching between electric and gas engines. The flip side is the fuel consumption, which is better than comparable gas only engines but not as good as typical hybrid systems.
The 2016 Honda CR-Z combines a 1.5L four cylinder gas engine with a 20hp electric motor to produce a total 130hp and pairs this with a 6 speed manual or an optional continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters. This electric motor assisting style hybrid improves fuel economy and reduces wasted energy, but doesn’t follow the traditional hybrid’s lower fuel consumption in city driving versus highway. The manual version of the 2016 Honda CR-Z is rated at 7.9 L/100km in the city and 6.5 L/100km on the highway, while our 160km test drive yielded a combined 7.4 L/100km (mostly city driving).
The 2016 Honda CR-Z is the only vehicle on the market offering a manual transmission paired with a hybrid engine system, which is quite in line with their vision for the CR-Z to be a sports hybrid. Taking this one step further is the S+ button on the steering wheel. Press this button when the battery is ready to give an instant 5 second boost to acceleration, for punchier accelerations and zippy fun! You can do about 3 hard accelerations before the electric motor battery is fully drained, removing any extra oomph until recharged.
Perhaps it was my style of driving a manual transmission, but I found the 2016 CR-Z’s Idle-Stop feature quite annoying and couldn’t quite figure out when it restarts. From what I gathered, when in neutral and coasting below 30km/hr or stopped, the engine automatically shuts off and is supposed to turn back on when the brake is released. I did find more than once during a left turn, that the engine had shut off and didn’t restart when I put it into first gear. It wasn’t until I fully depressed the clutch or touched the brake that the engine restarted. Unfortunately, the Idle-Stop feature can’t be turned off so you will have to get used to it.
The 2016 Honda CR-Z brings nimble and precise handling thanks to its low and wide stance. There’s great steering feedback coupled with an overall reassured traction which fits nicely with the sporty hybrid vision.
Manoeuvring the 2016 Honda CR-Z is quite easy thanks to its tech features, despite the obstructed views. The rear view mirror looks back to a split hatch window with one of the windows tinted. This double vision-like view takes a bit of getting used to. However, with the multi angle rear view camera that gives wide, normal and top-down views reversing is a breeze. Adding the lane watch feature improves the view down the right lane for safer turning and lane changes by showing a larger view of the area (about four times!) on the main display. Also included is a hill assist feature which prevents rolling backwards when stopped on a hill. This feature is needed as there’s no handbrake and instead a more convenient electronic parking brake.
Sitting inside the cabin, passengers are reminded of the sportiness of the 2016 CR-Z with a nice throaty rumble of the engine. Some may prefer a silent cabin, but I found the sporty rumble added to the whole experience. Although the overall 0-60 times may not speak to the sports car nature it’s trying to achieve, the short bursts of acceleration driving at city speeds are quite exhilarating
EXTERIOR & INTERIOR
The 2016 Honda CR-Z sits with a wide and powerful stance alluding to its sporty nature. This sporty looking hatchback has well planned edgy yet sleek curves and lines, leading to an overall shape that’s both unique and pleasing. It should be noted that the 2016 CR-Z is a two seater hatchback coupe with two rear basins replacing the rear seating.
Inside the cabin of the CR-Z lies a futuristic dash design that takes some getting used to as controls are spread out in locations not typical in the majority of vehicles. This leads to a pleasing multi layered styling of the dash and allows for great interior storage and an overall clean and uncluttered look.
I’m not a huge fan of the Honda tablet style touch screen interface as you always need to select home before selecting navigation, audio, settings, etc… which is just one extra step. Also I still prefer a volume knob rather than a toggle.
The leather seats are stylish and ultramodern while still being firm and comfortable for longer rides. Leather seating is included in the premium package which comes standard on the 2016 Honda CR-Z.
While not a very practical car for a family, the 2016 Honda CR-Z succeeds at being a fuel efficient sports hybrid with great handling and a zippy acceleration while city driving. After driving the 2016 CR-Z, I now believe all cars should have an electric motor assist feature to capture all the otherwise wasted energy from braking and coasting.
Buying a 2016 Honda CR-Z is made simple with options and packages because there’s only one version and one color of the CR-Z you can buy – the premium package model in Ivory Pearl (White) with a black leather interior and it goes for $26,290. The only decision you will need to make is for a six speed manual or continuously variable transmission.