The 2011 Honda CR-Z Sport Hybrid is an interesting take on the whole hybrid concept. It may still be part gas and part electric with its 1.5L, 16 valve, SOHC, iVTEC® 4-cylinder engine with Integrated Motor Assist (IMA), but when attached to a 6 speed close ratio manual transmission (optional CVT and flappy paddles) plus some unmistakably sporty looks, there is nothing boring about this $23,000 CAD ($19,000 US) hybrid. It even bears an uncanny resemblance to the original Honda CRX.

When Futurelooks first saw this vehicle back at E3 2010, we were wondering why Honda would be displaying a car at a video game show. But after looking at the controls and dashboard it all became very clear who this vehicle was targeted towards. Michael and Stephen spent two weeks reviewing our biggest gadget ever and here’s what they thought of it…

The Video Review

If you have problems viewing the embedded video, you can view the video portion of this review right here.

Overall, both Michael and Stephen really enjoyed the Honda CR-Z sport hybrid. Both of them thought it was a blast despite the little nitpicks. Here are a few more things that ended up on the cutting room floor…

Low Ceilings – The Honda CR-Z is plenty spacious side to side, but when it comes to head room, both Michael and Stephen noticed that they were nearly running red lights because neither of them could see under the roofline. It obscured so much of the view that they had to look under it to see what color the light was.

Sport-like Handling? – While the CR-Z is probably the most nimble hybrid out there, the sport part of the equation definitely needs some help to truly live up to that label. During spirited cornering the car exhibited understeer, particularly when trying to power out of a corner. There’s nothing more unnerving than having your car try to go straight when applying power in a turn when at the limit. While the front MacPherson strut and rear torsion bar suspension did a reasonable job stock, a heavier rear sway bar could fix that and give the vehicle much improved cornering. Did we mention there are no “OS” handles?

Tire selection with the Dunlop SP7000 and 16 inch alloys was safe, but more demanding drivers may wish to upgrade to the 17 inch rims and higher performance rubber. But the stock tires seemed good in the wet Vancouver weather.

Cheapish Interior – We already mentioned the relative cheapness of the interior. While it was put together fine, it was a bit flimsy because we could move the whole center console. However, one other thing that we found after driving it for a couple weeks was how easily the interior scuffs. If you have pets or tend to throw things around in the car, you might want to take a little more care in this interior.

Other than those small issues on the road, both Michael and Stephen smiled ear to ear when driving the 2011 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid.

Final Thoughts from Michael…

When most people think of a hybrid vehicle, they think of granola crunchers and tree huggers. They also think of gutless little cars that offer next to no performance. The Honda CR-Z is supposed to change that perception by offering the first “sports” hybrid. It’s also the only one with a true six-manual manual gearbox.

I didn’t expect the world when it came to performance, as the CR-Z only generates a combined 122hp between the 1.5L gas engine and the electric assist motor, but it’s still quite the nimble little creature. The shorter wheelbase and the high-revving Honda nature make for a spirited drive, particularly as you throw it through the twisties. It runs out of juice at the top end, but getting there is undeniably fun.

The suite of standard features is appealing too, including Bluetooth, three drive modes, iPod integration, and climate control. It would have been nice to have a sunroof, but that would add too much cost and too much weight. All in all, this is a fun little car and a good hybrid deal at about $23,000 Canadian.

Final Thoughts from Stephen…

The words sporty and hybrid, when placed beside each other, seem to be more of an oxymoron than the description given to a fun to drive an economical two door coupe. Funny enough, that’s exactly what my parting thoughts of the 2011 Honda CR-Z are. It really is fun!

While the CR-Z won’t push you into the back of the seat with its modest acceleration or hurl you into the doors during a sweeping turn, it does give you a certain measure of giddiness when attacking traffic or hitting the petrol pumps. It’s sport-like but not sport if you will. It’s also loaded with gadgets and electronics that should keep geeks and boffins alike entertained during rush hour. Things like the different driving modes from ECO to Sport and the “Eco Game” at the end of the drive all tie in together for a unique “nerdgasm” behind the wheel.

At $23,000 CAD or $19,000 US the Honda CR-Z is a value packed hybrid proposition that sheds the stodginess of hybridism and looks pretty darn good from the outside as well. If you don’t have kids or can live without a backseat, this might be your cup of java.

Michael and Stephen both scored the 2011 Honda CR-Z Sport Hybrid identically. A photo gallery loaded with interior and exterior shots is below.

Overall Rating: 9.0 / 10.0

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