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Honda’s new CR-Z hybrid coupe is schedule to hit dealerships in the UK and USA at about the same time this summer. But while the Honda CR-Z has so far remained under the radar in America, the small sporty hybrid is garnering a lot of positive press on the other side of the pond.
We can’t imagine that Honda Motor Europe’s project in group filmmaking, Live Every Litre, is the reason for the extra attention. The marketing effort—hypothetically designed to promote the CR-Z as hip—yielded a set of YouTube road trip vignettes that induce equal parts confusion and boredom. Nonetheless, a trio of British auto reviewers recently reported a much better time from behind the wheel of the CR-Z.
Quentin Willson of The Mirror was nearly ecstatic about the car. He wrote that the CR-Z “is set to become one of the most desirable cars on the planet.” Willson added, “Looking like nothing else on the road, with a wonderful swooping roofline, it’s a lulu to drive.”
He praised the CR-Z’s handling and steering. “This is one of Honda’s best cars yet, and the world’s first truly sporting hybrid coupe…Sustainability never looked sexier.”
Jason Barlow of BBC’s Top Gear—usually no fan of hybrids—agreed with Willson. “By sticking the Insight’s hybrid tech into something that doesn’t look like a slapped arse,” Barlow quipped, “Honda might finally have made eco motoring sexy.” Barlow also praised the CR-Z for its handling. “It’s proper fun to drive,” Barlow wrote.
Andrew English of The Telegraph was generally positive, but not as effusive as the others. English dinged the CR-Z for poor visibility in the corners and through the back, for limited space in the rear seats, for braking that feels “wooden,” and for too much body roll. Yet, he granted the CR-Z as “sporting by hybrid standards” and concluded that it’s “a likeable little car.”
Small and Sexy in America As Well?
Meanwhile back on home turf, American Honda Motor Co.’s John Mendel, executive vice president of sales, said the CR-Z will appeal to tuners, who modify and tweak their rides for maximum performance and individual style. He told Automotive News that Honda research showed that tuners are excited about the CR-Z because it’s reminiscent of the old Honda CR-X, one of the ultimate tuner vehicles.
In other words, the CR-Z might inadvertently create a whole new market of hybrid buyers. Forget about the traditional hybrid puritans, who have expressed disappointment in the CR-Z because it averages merely 37 mpg. The people most likely to buy the car probably won’t give a damn one way or the other if it’s hybrid. It just looks cool and is fun to drive. Full stop.
As far as we’re concerned, anything that adds pizzazz and sex appeal to hybrids is a step in the right direction.