Just in the past two or three years, Honda has lost its mojo. The S2000, once a respected, yet affordable roadster, suffered from the axe after the 2010 model year. Since then, the last non-Civic ‘sporty’ Honda has hit the skids. All we have now is the much-maligned CR-Z—a car that has as much compromises as it does electrons running around in its engine compartment.
It was a bad idea from the get-go. Why did they kill the S2K? It wasn’t particularly popular, but it had a strong enthusiast following, and thanks to its low price and arguably great performance for the money, garnered respect during its production run. There was really no need to kill it. Great styling. Accessible price. Honda reliability and running costs. What wasn’t to like about it? Yes, it was loud, boisterous, and it didn’t really look “at home” next to the plethora of CR-Vs and Pilots and Accords at my local dealership, but as a 17-year-old, I really could have cared less.
And so now we must come to the point where I have to talk about the CR-Z. Where do I start? Honda claims that it’s supposed to provoke memories of the beloved CR-X from the 1980s. I’ll give them a point for getting the shape right—it looks nice from most angles. But I’m going to subtract that point, plus a few more.
It’s not particularly fast, not particularly frugal, and not particularly cheap. Perhaps if Honda expanded the model range at launch, I wouldn’t be typing this right now. Too bad. Their mistake. For a car that costs around $23,500 (EX Nav, 6MT), it’s just doesn’t deliver on the ‘value’ quotient that other Hondas that aren’t performance cars do so well. The Civic Si is cheaper than the CR-Z, and gets to 60 in less time. Not as efficient, but a lot more fun to drive. Want a new car? Just a little bit more money can net you a base-model Volkswagen GTi. In other words, the CR-Z is kind of overpriced.
Frugality? 34MPG doesn’t look bad (EPA Combined, 2011 CRZ 6MT). That said, the Honda Insight starts 2,000 less than the CR-Z, and gets 41MPG combined. The answer is right in front of you.
So, I leave the reader with this: Want a fast Honda? Buy it used, or go elsewhere.
UPDATE: Honda has released images of a Mugen CR-Z. Okay, that’s great. But it’s still a concept car, and likely not going to end up on dealer lots.