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What Other Sports-Hybrids Should Learn From The CR-Z


2011 Honda CR-Z

2011 Honda CR-Z

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 The CR-Z may be selling well in Japan, but the car is receiving lukewarm praise from the automotive press, like our own Marty Padgett’s Bottom Line and The Car Connection, and the cold shoulder from the performance-import crowd. Even the green car guys are looking at the mileage numbers with disappointment compared to the first Insight.

The recent news that manufacturer’s from Japan, mostly Toyota, are looking at the CR-Z as a sign that the public wants sporty hybrids. They should take note at several performance oriented examples listed here at what is causing this backlash and learn from Honda’s mistakes.

Beaten By The Competition—The Honda CR-Z may be in a class of its own, but it can be either matched or outperformed both in performance and fuel economy by cheaper more practical cars. Marty points out that the hotly anticipated 2011 Ford Fiesta will beat the CR-Z 0-60, all the while being more economical, practical, and cheaper. The same could be said about Honda’s other small car, the Fit. When this sort of thing happens, something isn’t right.

Not Better Than The Namesake—When using the heritage of an older car, it should be better in every way. This is where the CR-X fans are the mostly annoyed.  Though it does offer better performance than the gas sipping HF model, the original Si would get to 60 miles per hour in 8.5 seconds, over a second quicker than the CR-Z. Mileage started at 28 miles city, 33 miles highway, but isn’t that far below the current Hybrid’s numbers of 31/37. S
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eeds Good Performance With Better Mileage—The biggest failing of the CR-Z is that it loses focus on what it should be. Expecting Performance numbers close to the similarly priced Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V wouldn’t have been uncalled for. The Nissan will even gets decent 21/28 mileage with a six speed manual. By offering good performance with class beating fuel economy would have earned praise from the automotive press.

The CR-Z lacking any decent performance doesn’t make it a horrible car. It is well built, gets alright mileage, and has decent room for two people and luggage. Where Honda fails with the car is naming the hatchback as a sports-hybrid when it really is a two-door Honda Insight.

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Comment (1)
  1. I concur with your assessment--and I would add that I am very disappointed in the performance (or lack thereof) of this car as it really does not excel at anything and it may be (sadly) that Honda's best days are in the past (ie. the NSX, S2000). The idea of sporty hybrid is attractive--however, the CR-Z is just plain poorly executed as it is neither frugal nor fast and it doesn't even handle as well as the Mini Cooper. It seems to me that the hybrid powertrain in this car is more of a "gimmick" as the extra cost and weight it adds to this platform seems hardly justified given the lackluster performance of the CR-Z (as you pointed out the Fiesta outperforms the Cr-Z without going the hybrid route). That being said in order to obtain even a modicum of acceleration from this car it really needs the electric assist, unfortunately, one can deplete the battery leaving the CR-Z to flounder on its amall, anemic gasoline engine. Hopefully, someday someone will actually make a sporty hybrid that is both fast and frugal, as the CR-Z sadly fall far short on the foregoing.
     
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