Could Honda CR-Z Be The World's First Sexy Hybrid?

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.

Honda CR-Z

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.


  • JamesDavis

    I think a person has a psychological problem when they think a small car is sexy, or any car is sexy. I’m not saying there are not perverts out there who may become sexually aroused by cars and there may even be a law against that kind of abuse.

    I think the CR-Z is very artistically appealing and a person would not feel embarrassed being seen riding in one or driving one, but it has the wrong design to have a sexual attraction.

  • Dom

    If I were in the market for a car, this is the only hybrid I would even bother considering. Fun, slick styling, six-speed manual transmission, this is my kind of car. With the rear seats folded down it looks like it’s got some decent storage space as well. I hope it sells well in the US. I wish I had some extra cash to buy one anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Good looking, yes – but sexy ????

    Also: Why can’t they come up with some airodynamic design that does not has a bar running across the back window? I got used to it on my Prius – but would be nice not to have it.

    Does anybody know how much better mpg you get because of this bar? If it’s a lot, fine, I deal with it, but still don’t like it.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    Anonymous, I know that some people are very bothered by the “bar” across their rear view. I know I am blessed by a brain that ignores that “bar” in my view and just looks beyond it for what is behind the car. Unfortunately, that “bar” is a true aerodynamic spoiler and does effect the car’s performance. Even the slots on the roof above the door frames are more than just for ease of construction. They are used as turbulators, or vortex generators, to help keep the air flow from separating too early. A drive during a light fluffy snow in the winter time can actual show the air / vortex flow off of those slots. And those same vortexes tend to keep the rear window clear of snow. The only solution that I see for removing that “bar” view is to raise the roof line and redesign the car aerodynamically to a rear end similar to a SUV, station wagon, or van.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    A step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction no matter whether someone calls it sexy , wants it to be less “braking that feels ‘wooden’”, wants less “body roll”, or believes it is not enough MPG. Instead of bring out an in the 30s MPG hybrid sports car, Honda could have bought out a standard type sports car with maybe a city/highway combined MPG of 20. What the new CR-Z hybrid means is that it will using about 30 to 50 percent less petroleum and save the owner about the same in fuel costs at the same time. Would electric be better? Only if the battery technology continues to improve. Hopefully the previous article’s lithium air batteries will develop faster than thought, and we will all be driving electric cars whether it be an expensive 0 to 60 in three seconds electric sports car, or a first time buyer’s 0 to 60 in thirteen seconds cheap “it gets me to work” car.

  • Charles

    I think I would save the money and buy the new Fiesta. Almost the same MPG and a lot of money in the bank.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Finally, a hybrid that’s not just a boring sedan or pseudo-SUV! Maybe the auto industry is finally realizing that hybrid is a better drive train, not a body style.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Lost Prius to wife,
    One can also achieve the aerodynamics by bringing the tail out to a point like the EV1 but that may not be seen as attractive by many either.
    Unfortunately, what most people think is aerodynamic, really isn’t.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    “Unfortunately, what most people think is aerodynamic, really isn’t.”

    ex-EV1 driver, I understand this completely. I have had this same argument with some people previously on this site. I was told how stylish and aerodynamic the Corvette, Porsches, Jaguar, and other sports car were, but they really were not. They are just stylish with a lot of horsepower to overcome the aerodynamics. The lowest drag coefficient for the above was over 0.28. And most of the above mentioned are over 0.30! Compare that to the Honda’s first Insight’s 0.24 and the two Prius values of 0.25 and 0.26.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    . . . or the EV1′s 0.19

  • LeoLeo

    I’m more interested in a CR-V hybrid rather than a CR-Z.

    When is Honda or Toyota coming up with a hybrid for their small SUVs? I have to replace my car soon, and I may have to get an Escape instead.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    LeoLeo,
    The Escape Hybrid is a pretty good vehicle at least.

  • Rob D

    In my opinion, with the abysmal mileage rating for the CR-Z, the car is a tremendous disappointment for a hybrid. I had been excited about purchasing a CR-Z until I found out the mileage wasn’t any better than a Honda Civic. Shame on Honda.

  • Nelson Lu

    Why would an otherwise-non-hybrid-buyer go for the CR-Z when, for example, the Mustang gets 31 MPG on the highway?

  • Nelson Lu

    ex-EV1 driver writes:

    Finally, a hybrid that’s not just a boring sedan or pseudo-SUV! Maybe the auto industry is finally realizing that hybrid is a better drive train, not a body style.

    Ford’s and Toyota’s (and, if it passes the test of time, Hyundai’s) hybrid powertrains are better drivetrains than the conventional ones. Honda’s is simply not. It doesn’t provide additional drive boost or sufficient efficiency boost.

  • Shines

    Hold on a sec… 37 mpg average is not so bad. It is better than any conventional ice. Sure Mustang gets 31 highway and what 21 in the city? Even the puny Smart 4 Two averages only 35 mpg (Jetta TDI is only 34). Maybe for a hybrid it is not that great, but as a sporty 2 seat coupe (and if Honda can sell it for under $25K) it looks like a pretty good package to me. Maybe this will be my mid life crisis coupe ;-b. I agree that is a very nice looking car. Any way with the manual tranny and a bit of hyper mileing I bet one could get it to average near 40 mpg (which is close to most other hybrids except the Prius).

  • Mr. Fusion

    I’m going to bring up my 14 year old Honda Civic HX again.
    39+ mpg hwy.

    For those of you who are going to start with the “Oh, but new cars are heavier due to safety improvements” here’s the weights:

    2010 Honda CRZ Manual Transmission: 2670 lbs
    113 hp 1.5 liter + 13 hp electric motor assist

    1996 Honda Civic HX Manual Transmission: 2313 lbs
    115 hp 1.6 liter

    So Honda, what have you done in the past 14 years?
    The CRZ should be a lot more efficient.

  • Shines

    Redbeard so the CRZ is still 357 lbs heavier, I wonder what the mileage would be in your Civic HX with 2 extra adults driving with you everywhere? And those extra 357 lbs goes to; Anti lock brakes, stability control, air bags, regenerative braking, UV protecting windshields, safer headrests, better crumple zones power windows and locks…
    Civic HX was a great car – give Honda some credit with the CRZ.
    If my choices were; Mini, Miata, Golf TDI, Scion TC or the CRZ I’d pick the CRZ.

  • Mr. Fusion

    Shines: The HX would probably get around the same MPG as the CRZ with that extra weight.

    I like Honda. They make the most reliable cars out there. However, my opinion still stands that with the CRZ, Honda has produced a car with lots of technological advances but of similar weight and MPG as a 14 year old model. The MPG numbers shouldn’t even be close.

    BTW, the HX has a couple of air bags, power windows and locks.

  • StanCatt

    Yeah… obviously you’re not a car person. Google the the Citroen 2CV and try not to think about how it looks like a duck. Or what about the Renault R16? Tell me it doesn’t look like it has a squinty face. And millions agree that the Pontiac Aztek looks ugly and the Mazda Miata is cute, so why can’t cars like the CRZ, or older ones like the BMW 3.0 CSi, Jaguar XK120, and Mercedes 6.3 be sexy?

  • carguru

    I still don’t like this car, as while the idea of a sporty hybrid sounds attractive–this one was poorly executed as 0-60 in 10.5 seconds is just unacceptably slow for any car ( let alone one with sporty aspirations). Since, Honda failed miserably on the weak powerplant in this car, it has been trying to promote the supposed great handling of this car (ie. how the engineers drove Lotuses)–apparently it does not deliver superb handling eiither as the English article states “It’s sporty by hybrid standards, but the CR-Z is far from the most agile smalll coupe around–a Mini or a BMW 1 Series would leave it dead on a twisty road”. In another review in Japan, the writer noted that the brakes were smoking after a few hot runs up and down the hills. I also read another review which noted that the start/stop feature of the motor needs some work as it would sometimes stop at the wrong time. Most of the reviewers also complained about the very poor rear visiibility. To sum it all up it’s muich too slow, likely too expensive ($25,000-$28,000), does not even handle as well as a cheaper Mini, has weak brakes, poor visibility and does not even get all that great gas miileage. Maybe Honda should have delayed the release of this car until it could get it right (ie. like it did for the Civic).

  • JCR

    I think when somebody refer to car to be sexy means that you becomes the sexy one… Just make a test… Count how many girls look at you driving a BMW and how many girl will look at you driving a Ford Focus… And that my friends is The ugly truth…
    CR-Z uuuh yeah it is sexy…

  • sava green

    James,

    “Sexy” is product/auto designer lingo for very well designed, attractive.

  • Anonymous

    The bar is not specifically important, but the shape requires it for visbility. The shape is special (without going into the aerodynamics), and it allows for a huge interior with very little drag. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kammback