An old friend returns for a visit The 2012 Honda CR-Z I spent a week with last summer will forever continue to have a warm place in my heart.
The 2012 Honda CR-Z I spent a week with last summer will forever continue to have a warm place in my heart. Its snick-snick 6-speed manual transmission, its phenomenal fuel economy, and its sheer amount of charm will not be soon forgotten. That’s why when I was offered up the opportunity to drive the 2013 Honda CR-Z for a long weekend away, I jumped at the chance. On an extensive drive from Toronto to Montréal and back, I was able to compare the CR-Z’s fuel mileage with a 2012 Toyota Prius also on the trip.
Much like most other hybrids, the Honda CR-Z excels in an urban atmosphere. I remember the manual model from last year averaging 4L/100km in “normal” mode on a conservative commute around the city. With this 2013 model driven by a continuously-variable transmission, that number seemed more optimistic than my wildest dreams. In the city, the car only mustered about 5.7L/100km. Its highway mileage though, is another story, and I’ll address it later on to avoid getting too frustrated with the little thing.
When my colleague and I arrived at Honda to pick up the CR-Z, he exclaimed at first sight “that is a damn good-looking car”. He couldn’t be more right; the little 2-seat hatchback is stunning. It looks like a modernized version of the rather dull-looking first-generation Insight. I only wish it had as much bite as bark; a Civic Si drivetrain in this car would be monumentally epic. The interior of the CR-Z is every bit as great as its exterior; the driving position is dead-on, the controls are easy to find, and surprisingly, even the stereo sounds great (for an entry-level system in a tiny car).
My base-model tester came reasonably equipped, coming with a 360-watt audio system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, paddle shifters (effectively useless on a CVT, but hey, why not), 16” aluminium wheels, and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA). Not too shabby for just under $23,000. The typical air conditioning, power options, and keyless entry are obviously standard as well. A neat little trick the CR-Z does have is a series of three buttons on the left side of the dash depicting Eco, Normal, and Sport drive modes. Each of the buttons transforms the car into a respective mode, which either helps or hinders fuel economy, depending on what you choose.
I personally don’t think the CR-Z should come with a CVT, even as an option. If four doors or convenience is what the buyer is going for, Honda also sells the Insight for less money than the CR-Z. This little two-seater is aimed for a combination between miserly fuel consumption and spirited driving. The transmission in my test car unfortunately sucked all of the fun out of driving.
I’m one to support a boring drive if it means I save a ton of money on fuel, but on the highway doing between 100-120 the whole way, the CR-Z somehow displayed an average of 7.9L/100km! For a hybrid?! That’s fearfully close to the number we observed in combined driving in the much more comfortable, far more practical, and infinitely more fun Acura ILX Dynamic. By the way, the four guys in the Prius had the last laugh; their car averaged 4.1L/100km.
Okay, so the CR-Z isn’t really meant for highway cruising. That doesn’t mean it’s all bad, right? I mean, the hotel valet in Montréal seemed to get all beady-eyed and excited when I pulled up because he thought it was a <insert Québécois accent here> “concept car, non?” Non, it’s not, but it did turn out to be pretty awesome booting around the city. The hill-start assist prevented it from rolling back on the steep hills of Mont Royal, and the short steering ratio meant I could park it literally anywhere.
Bottom line on the 2013 Honda CR-Z; would I buy one over a Prius? Any day of the week. I’d buy it with the right transmission though; none of this “paddle shift” nonsense. I truly would like to drive a manual model on the highway again to see if the fuel consumption is any better. Circling back into my notes from last summer, I averaged 5.9L/100km on the highway in that one. For just over $20,000 well-equipped, I’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect city runabout that turns as many heads. With fuel mileage like this though, I have to ask; why not something more performance-oriented and just as attention seeking as a Scion FR-S?
2013 Honda CR-Z Gallery