The Honda CR-Z: A sporty hybrid that challenged conventional notions of performance and efficiency

The sporty Honda that kickstarted the hybrid trend

10 years on from when it was first launched in South Africa, the Honda CR-Z will be remembered as a sporty hybrid that challenged conventional notions of performance and efficiency.

When launched the Honda CR-Z was lauded for its combination of sporty power and impressively low emissions levels. The keen styling and fashionable interior contributed to a hybrid motoring package that was compelling and entertaining to drive and proved that eco-friendly cars can be exciting and satisfying too.

Find out more about Honda's newest performance vehicle, the Honda Civic type-R here.

A unique drivetrain combination

The CR-Z featured an advanced 1.5-litre petrol engine that employed i-VTEC variable valve timing resulting in a maximum power output of 89kW.

The IMA hybrid drivetrain coupled this petrol engine to an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack that contributed a further 15kW.

With both the petrol engine and the electric motor working in tandem, the IMA hybrid system was able to produce a combined total output of 101kW and 190Nm. This resulted in the CR-Z being capable of a 0-100km/h sprint time of 9,0 seconds on its way to a top speed of 200km/h.

Allowing drivers to maximise the full potential of the CR-Z’s IMA hybrid powertrain was a Plus Sport button on the coupe’s multifunction steering wheel providing access to a Sport Plus mode that was available only when the battery charge is at more than 50 percent total capacity. This mode provided instant access to the extra power boost provided by the electric motor for up to 10 seconds under full throttle.

When launched the CR-Z was initially offered with a manual gearbox exclusively, making it the first vehicle to pair a hybrid drivetrain with a manual gearbox. A year after its initial launch the range was bolstered with the addition of a CVT which considerably broadened its appeal. The CVT was able to find the ideal transmission ratio to match engine speed, increasing fuel efficiency and boosting engine performance.

Fairly unique at the time was a drive mode selector, offering three driving modes that allowed the driver to choose how the CR-Z responds, in either Normal, Econ or Sport mode. Econ placed emphasis on economical driving habits and prioritised fuel efficiency over engine performance, while Sport mode placed emphasis on sporty, performance-orientated driving. The engine’s characteristics like throttle response and power delivery are also heightened in Sport mode for a sporty driving feel, in true Honda fashion. Normal mode provides an optimal balance between fuel-efficient driving and engine performance.

While it was a sporty hybrid coupe, the addition of the CVT improved environmental credentials with average fuel consumption dropping to just 4,9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

Extensive equipment offering

The CR-Z was equipped with a high level of standard specification, which included luxuries such as a panoramic glass roof, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control and Bluetooth as well as safety equipment such as ABS, EBD, EBA, Vehicle Stability Assist, Isofix child seat anchors and a total of six airbags.

A great pre-owned option

The cutting-edge technology and high-level of standard specification that characterised the CR-Z in 2013 make it a fantastic option in the pre-owned market today. The overall styling, interior and technology has aged extremely well and remains as relevant today as it did 10 years ago.

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