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It’s called an axiom for a reason. You can’t have it all, and we can prove it. Our evidence? The 2011 Honda CR-Z. Until now, we held out hope that some car company would find a way to deliver everything we wanted in an environmentally responsible sporty coupe, from great fuel economy to great handling. But the CR-Z falls short of satisfying us on either end of the
spectrum—it’s a wash for both hypermilers and for the ardent believers still waiting on the second coming of the beloved CRX.
As it’s closely related to the 2010 Honda Insight five-door hatchback, Honda is careful to pitch the CR-Z as a hybrid sports coupe, and to put a little distance between its illustrious hot-hatch history. At the same time, on purpose, it invokes the spirit of the CRX with those initials. That’s a problem--the world-saving, 2,600-pound, 122-horsepower CR-Z just doesn’t tap enough of the CRX’s handling magic or simple aesthetic to warrant the name.
The CR-Z might have been better off under a different name. It’s reasonably quick and gets very good gas mileage for a sporty car. The CRX was a halo car for the whole Honda brand; the CR-Z feels just like a two-door Insight with less cohesive looks and worse gas mileage. If this were an Insight Sport, it might be perceived very differently.
Still, Honda’s convinced it’ll find 15,000 fans eager to be the pioneers in the “hybrid enthusiast” segment. With a base price under $20,000 and reaching to about $24,000 for a fully tricked-out version, the new CR-Z will be toughing it out against iconic machines like the base MINI Cooper and the VW New Beetle—and even less compelling coupes like the anonymous Scion tC and the thirsty Mitsubishi Eclipse.
We think it’s going to find its biggest dragon to slay in the tight 2011 Ford Fiesta, which matches its interior room, keeps seating for five, and outpaces it in highway fuel economy, even without any battery backup.
- Way ahead of the social-responsibility curve
- Flashy gauges teach you green driving
- Great fuel economy, compared to some coupes
- Six-speed clicks in terrific Honda fashion
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- As heavy as an Insight, and thirstier
- City driving uses up all the suspension travel
- CVT dulls all the available driving fun
- Cargo hold doesn’t hold much