Monday, 5 March 2012

COLUMN - March 2012

This is my column from The Local Herald, March 2012. This month I had borrowed a Honda CR-Z to test, and so my column is a short review of this. There is a more detailed review which can be found on the review page. I hope you enjoy it!

Well, the snow hoped for at Christmas finally arrived, and as usual set about ruining our country’s sensitive infrastructure. It seems that we live in the only country that could have weather so bad that global warming would make it colder. Luckily, I may have found the answer; a way to slow global warming and yet still have fun whilst driving.

It’s called the Honda CR-Z. Yes, Z. I’m sure a lot of you will remember the iconic CR-X from the 80’s, and the Z is in many ways its successor. However, on the back there is a word feared by petrol-heads; “Hybrid”. Fear not though, because this is no battery-powered lunchbox. What it is, is brilliant.

First of all, the styling. There are echoes of the CR-X in this car, such as the split-glass rear tailgate. There are sweeping lines and a shark-fin antenna, and the car sits low down on 16-inch alloys. To add more to the sporty nature of this car, I would suggest opting for the 17-inch alloys as at the rear the 16’s are lost with the large rear-quarter.

The hybrid system in the CR-Z is a different approach. The classic hybrid has a large electric engine which powers the car silently and emission-less for a whole mile or so, at which point a petrol motor takes over and uses more fuel than a standard car to haul the heavy electric motor around. In the CR-Z the electric motor works in tandem with the petrol motor, assisting under acceleration and charging when coasting. The result of this is that you can experience the benefits of the electric motor for longer.

This is a 1.5-litre petrol car. With the electric motor, total power output is 124PS and 174Nm of torque. It will do 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds and go on to a top speed of 124mph. With this in mind, the combined fuel economy figure of 56.5mpg and CO2 emissions of just 117g/km, the hybrid idea suddenly makes sense.

On the range-topping GT model the front passengers have heated leather sports seats and will experience comfort. The rear seats are best saved for small children, as even at 5ft 7in I could not sit up straight. The driving position is of a sporty nature too, and with the adjustable steering reach/rake can be tailored to suit individual needs. The 3D instrument panel is very visually pleasing and can be dimmed which helps at night.

There are 3 driving modes in the CR-Z; normal, eco and sport. Eco mode is good for motorway cruising; I found that setting cruise control in eco mode gave excellent fuel economy. Sport mode is where the real difference is felt however. In this mode the electric motor is set to maximum assistance level, the throttle response is sharper and the steering is more weighted. The sport mode is by far the best of the three, but eco does come in useful to maintain a good average mpg.

Boot space is reasonable, and even better with the rear seats folded down. If you are a single person or a couple then the rear-seat issue is less likely to cause problems, and the CR-Z should offer an environmentally friendly option to somebody looking for a small sporty car. With road tax costing just £30 for a year, running costs are kept down. The CR-Z GT scored 42/50.

To see this score broken down, visit my blog. My site has undergone some changes and has moved to www.simply-motor.com. It is mostly cosmetic changes, and I hope you all like it. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me: info@simply-motor.com

Dan

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