Honda CR-Z

The CR-Z is a sporty coupé that's fun to drive and cheap to run. If this is the future, then it works

Those of a planet-saving tendency and those who enjoy fast, fun cars tend not to be each other's greatest fans.

But even climate change deniers accept that cars must be more energy efficient because hydrocarbon fuel supplies are not limitless. So, hybrids make sense to everyone. Even supercar makers are mindful of EU legislation designed to make them produce less profligate cars. At the recent Geneva motor show, Porsche showed its 918 Spyder and Ferrari its 599 Hybrid. Both combine staggering pace and economy and are likely to enter production.

Meanwhile, Honda has quietly been making hybrid cars for the past decade. They are less complex than their Toyota rivals, but they undoubtedly work. Now there's a new hybrid Honda, a little sports coupé called the CR-Z. Its style is clearly inspired by the CRX of the 1980s but reworked for the modern world. It looks exactly like a racy Honda should: low nose, low windscreen, wedgy profile, chopped-off tail with the rear window wrapping over it from near horizontal to vertical. There is a rear seat but it's minimal. Behind that seat and under the boot floor is the lithium-ion battery pack that powers, and is recharged by, a 14bhp electric motor positioned between its 1.4-litre, 114bhp petrol engine and a six-speed manual gearbox.

Working at their peak, the engine and motor meet their combined optimum power outputs at 124bhp and 6,100rpm. And you can bask in a 117g/km official CO2 output and a zero congestion charge if London-bound.

You sit low in the CR-Z but with a panoramic view over that low nose. The view aft is not so good, intrusively bisected by the bar between the window panes, but directly ahead is an instrument panel of exciting futurism. Priced from £16,999, it is reminiscent of the Insight, on whose power units and understructure the shorter, wider and lower CR-Z is broadly based, but that takes nothing away from the eeriness of the solar-eclipse glow which emanates from behind the circular, digital speedometer.

There are three driving modes. Econ, which maximises efficiency by reducing the petrol engine's contribution and is ideal for heavy traffic. The stop-start system works well, though, with the engine restarting seamlessly the instant you move the gear lever towards first. But the only real driving interest comes from trying to keep a green tinge to the ghostly glow, because if it starts to turn blue you are not driving frugally enough.

This light show continues in Normal mode, but otherwise the CR-Z now feels almost like a normal car with a proper accelerator response. Here is where all that low-speed pulling power is felt. This energy at low engine speeds is the key to the CR-Z's mix of economy and entertainment, because there's little point in revving the engine hard. A gauge tells you how much the system is charging the battery, typically when slowing, braking or cruising gently, or how much charge it is taking when it is helping the engine's efforts. Full power up a long hill will soon exhaust the battery, but by then the engine is in its stride.

Finally, there is Sport mode, which maximises the electric motor's efforts and gains its regeneration from the harder braking that such a mode encourages. In Sport, the CR-Z feels like a credible, if relatively tame, sports car, and you can enjoy its steering and agile handling even if neither is quite up to the standards of a good, hot hatch.

Here's the pay-off, though. In my time with the car it used less fuel than the sporting diesel hatchback I also had on test, to the extent that its fuel thirst in traffic was approximately halved. If this is the future, it's a rosy one.

Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

    £300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

    High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

    £70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

    Teaching Assistant

    £50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

    Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments