When my brother — who doesn’t read car magazines or blog sites — said the car I was driving, the 2011 CR-Z, resembled the old popular Honda CRX, I knew Honda hit its mark.
“That was a very successful car,” he recalled of Honda’s big hit of the 1980s.
Today’s big hits come in ecology-minded, fuel efficient, technology-driven, value-for-the-dollar quality cars. If you are an automaker and you can put that all together in one package, then you’ve hit on a gold mine — and some automakers are already doing this successfully.
Honda is being very target-specific with its all-new 2011 CR-Z Hybrid sport coupe. A two-seater, hot dynamic exterior styling, with “hybrid” in the name — I can imagine trendsetters and highly individualistic people as the primary buyers who will seek out the CR-Z. The CR-Z is the answer to the Prius for buyers who want to make a bigger, more lustful statement about themselves.
The raked rear of the CR-Z with its low-slung glass hatch is a powerful and youthful design that shows the sport coupe has some charming sex appeal. The front holds the strong DNA profile of Honda, but the blacked-out grille hints at the opportunity for some clean fun.
Under the hood of the CR-Z Hybrid are a gas engine and Honda’s 10-kilowatt Integrated Motor Assist. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine features 128 horsepower linked to the six-speed manual transmission — and 122 horsepower when hooked to the Continuously Variable Transmission. The IMA’s job is to act as a generator when braking to the recharge the battery and to assist in acceleration.
I drove the six-speed manual CR-Z and did not have the opportunity to drive the CVT-equipped CR-Z. My natural tendency when driving a manual is to come off the clutch and put the shifter into neutral when stopped, such as at a traffic light. I would not ever do this again in the CR-Z manual. Instead I would relearn how to clutch.
As it turns out, when you’re off the clutch and in neutral the CR-Z Hybrid’s “auto-stop” feature is activated, which practically shuts off the car (for fuel efficiency gains), resulting in a delayed engine response. And this happened when trying to throttle through an intersection with oncoming traffic. I learned the scare-me-to-death way not to do this again, instead keeping the clutch depressed at all times when stopped in traffic. Or, you could opt to test out the CVT-equipped CR-Z to see how that behaves, which by the way, gets higher fuel mileage than the manual does.
Fuel economy ratings on Honda’s six-speed CR-Z are established as 31 miles per gallon city and 37 mpg highway. The CVT-equipped CR-Z returns fuel economy of 35 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. Pricing for the 2011 Honda CR-Z starts at $19,200 for the six-speed manual transmission. The CVT model starts at $23,210.
Included in the 2011 CR-Z are automatic climate control, power windows and locks, keyless entry and USB port. The test vehicle featured 16-inch alloy wheels, navigation with voice activation and a 6.5-inch screen, as well as a high power 360-watt sound system with subwoofer and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink.
Honda offers a “3-Mode” drive system with Eco Assist in the new 2011 CR-Z. This allows the driver to select from among Normal, Sport or Economy drivability. In the instrumentation rings are illumination colors of red for Sport driving, and blue and green rings for Normal mode, with the green illuminating whenever you’re gaining in fuel-efficient driving styles. And driving green is what it’s all about today. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters

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