Thursday, 20 February 2014

REVIEW - Honda CR-Z GT-T [Facelift]

It wasn't so long ago I reviewed the facelifted Honda CR-Z. That was the 'Sport' model, and I had a couple of minor issues with it. I thought the wheels weren't sporty enough, and that the performance was lacking too. So I decided to check out a GT model, which- at the top of the range- could be the answer. I was curious as to what it offered over the sport model, and whether it would be worth the higher price tag attached. Thankfully the guys over at Honda were kind enough to oblige, and before I knew it I had a very yellow CR-Z on the drive...

Looks - 10/10

I certainly can't complain at how the CR-Z GT looks. Where the Sport just fell short- particularly in the wheel department- the GT has it covered. You get a lovely panoramic roof, and 17-inch wheels which are certainly very nice indeed. I rather liked the 'Energetic Yellow Metallic' paint job too. The facelifted front bumper has sportier edge to it. When you look at the CR-Z you can certainly see how it takes inspiration from the CRX from the 80s. The split rear window is particularly reminiscent, and yet when you couple it to the modern touches- such as the shark fin aerial- the result is rather stylish indeed.

On the inside the CR-Z is very much a little sports car. You still have the little steering wheel, aluminium gear knob, big rev counter, and rather large red 'Start' button. The GT model benefits from full leather seats and being the 'T' model my test car also had the built-in satellite navigation screen which really added a touch of class to the interior. As you would expect from Honda the interior is high quality; with all the plastics looking nice and being nice to the touch. i also rather like the passenger side of the dashboard. It's angular, and just looks a sporty seating position.

Handling/Performance - 8/10

The GT is exactly the same under the bonnet as the rest of the range. There's a 1.5-litre petrol engine and a large battery which work together to form the 'Integrated Motor Assist'- or IMA- powertrain of the CR-Z. The figures are the same, too. You get 137PS and 190Nm from the combination of electric motor and engine. However, thanks to (I can only imagine) the larger wheels the GT model is actually slower 0-62mph. The Sport does it in 9.1 seconds but the GT takes 9.5 seconds. So it manages to be slower. And it's frustrating too. Once the battery stops assisting, such as going up a hill when it will run low, the petrol engine feels a bit lacking in power, and you find yourself dropping a few cogs to try and maintain speed let alone accelerate. And the other downside are the engine modes. There's 'Normal', 'Eco' and 'Sport'. The latter is the one I used all the time. It gives the engine a nice note and utilises battery power to become more nippy. In 'Eco' mode though, it feels lethargic and very underpowered. It works on the motorway in combination with cruise control, but not around town.

The CR-Z handles well. The steering is sharp, and if you put it in Sport mode is nicely weighted too. The driving position is sporty, and the seats offer good support through the bends. The brakes give you confidence, and in general the ride is firm but not uncomfortable. Having said that you notice the bumps more in the GT thanks to the lower profile tyres. Grip levels are really good, and throwing the GT through a few corners gave me great pleasure. On the motorway the CR-Z is refined and cruises well, but really you can tell it wants to have the S+ button (which gives a short power boost) pushed and the bends attacked. Through town it feels nimble, and well suited when you drive through a village.

Economy - 7/10

One reason you would consider a Honda CR-Z is for its fuel efficiency and lower running costs. It sounds good in principle, but unfortunately those 17-inch wheels come back to deliver another frustrating blow. You see in 'Sport' guise- with 16-inch wheels- CO2 emissions are 116g/km and combined fuel economy is 56.5mpg. Not too bad at all; road tax is £30 a year. But once you add those 17-inch, brilliant-looking wheels, CO2 emissions become 122g/km. That means that road tax then becomes £105 a year, which is a big leap. Fuel consumption worsens slightly too, to 54.3mpg combined. When you consider that the GT is slower, being less economical just doesn't make sense, and makes the car frustrating.

Practicality - 6/10

Honda claim the CR-Z is a 2+2 but as you can see from the pictures, this definitely isn't the case. I am 5'7" tall, and there wasn't enough room behind me for even a child. Why Honda didn't just make the CR-Z a proper two-seater is beyond me. The boot is a reasonable size, and easily accessible thanks to the large hatch. Another downside of the sloping lines of the CR-Z is visibility. It is nigh-on impossible to see over your shoulder, and the rear visibility is hampered by the split in the rear window. This can make parking a bit more difficult than would be ideal, and I can't help but think a reversing camera or blind-spot indicators would really help a car like this.

Fun - 9/10


Although it may frustrate in some areas, there's no doubt in my mind that the CR-Z GT is still a fun car. I like the sporty driving position and the nippiness when you have it in sport mode. I like the small hint of overrun when you blip the throttle, and how the dials turn red. I do rather like how the CR-Z handles, and thanks to iPod connectivity- as well as storage for said iPod- mean you can have your favourite soundtrack on in the background. And the CR-Z looks good. People do turn to see what it is. And when you catch your reflection in a shop window you will struggle not to admire it. What stops the GT from getting a perfect 10 is that at some point you will be blasting away, and the battery will run out of assistance, and you will  no longer feel like you're in a sports car. Which is a shame.

Concluding Remarks

So the CR-Z GT-T. All the extra 'T' means is that you get a satellite navigation system. We've established it's slower and less economical than the CR-Z Sport. And as you would expect it's more expensive, too. My test car with the yellow paint came in at £24,495 and I have to admit that's a little bit steep. So to conclude on this car I will retract my earlier statement; the CR-Z does not need 17-inch wheels. If I were you I'd go for the Sport and save yourself a few quid on the running costs. You can always 'load up' a Sport to have some of the same goodies. But that's not taking away from the fact the CR-Z is still a fun little sports car, and with the hybrid technology it's trendy too. Pop into your local Honda dealer or visit the Honda website for more information.

Total Score - 40/50

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