The Independent Road Test: The hair-raising feats of Honda's dancing roof: Richard Bremner takes the lid off the new Honda CRX VTi, listens to the engine and revs up the 'targa top' panel

IT IS hard to know whether sun-lovers are necessarily lazy people, but Honda seems to think so. If you want to catch the rays in its new Civic CRX, all you have to do is stop the car, undo some catches (hard work, that) and press a button. The roof panel is magically lifted skywards, to be received by a kind of grab that emerges from the boot and, after a few whirring seconds, carries it back to its lair.

Watch this party piece from the pavement and you'll be astonished, both at the complexity and precision of the process, and at the lengths to which car engineers will go to to keep their customers happy.

But this balletic triumph of electro-trickery is an option (priced at about pounds 800), and it won't be available until later this year. Those who want a CRX now are going to have to face up to getting out of the car and doing the job themselves. Not that much energy is required - you just release a couple of levers, open the boot, lift the roof free (it's aluminium, and therefore bearably light) and place it in its carrier frame in the boot. The frame hinges upwards, revealing a surprisingly large luggage area beneath.

Car buffs will have spotted that this car is different from the last one to wear the CRX badge, which was a small, 2+2 coupe. Honda will introduce a new, compact, Civic-based coupe next year - in the meantime, those who want a sporty Civic must choose either this breezy two-seater or the hatchback VTi, with which the CRX shares an engine. And a remarkable engine it is, too. It produces 160bhp from 1.6 litres, sprints to 60mph in 7.7 seconds and, most amazingly of all, revs to 8,000rpm without bursting a blood vessel. When it is being pushed hard it sounds like a Grand Prix engine, and the high revs let you hang on longer before shifting up a gear on a twisty back road.

If all this sounds like fun, well, it is, especially when the roof is off and the wind is frothing your hair. Because it is a 'targa top' (an arrangement that leaves the pillars and the rear section of the roof in place) the whipping and tugging of the wind that flies through traditional sports cars is almost completely absent, even when you roll down (electrically, of course) the rear window.

Generally, the cabin is a pleasant place to be: it offers bags of room, decent seats, a comfortable driving stance and sensibly located controls. In fact the only drawbacks are the lack of room for a journey's junk, and the rather cheap finish of some of the plastics.

The CRX's major drawback, if you are a keen driver, is that it seems rather dead when cornered keenly, leaving you feeling a little detached from the proceedings. It's not that the car doesn't have a confident grip on the road; it's just that you can't feel through the rim of the steering wheel exactly what the front wheels are up to.

Enthusiasts may feel that, in its efforts to sanitise the CRX, Honda has subtracted some of the intangibles that make a good sports car great. But don't cross it off your list until you've had a go, because it's a temptingly endearing

machine.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
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

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect