2013 Honda CR-Z Hybrid Coupe: Quick Drive Report

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Honda launched the CR-Z hybrid coupe in 2010, aiming to defy the assertion that all hybrids are slow and boring.

It has to be said that as defiant acts go, the CR-Z hasn't been entirely successful. Gearhead circles have criticized its so-so performance, while hybrid fans decry its average economy ratings.

The 2013 CR-Z gets some changes to address those concerns, and we've had a week with a UK-specification Honda CR-Z to see if they work.

Equipment levels and styling may differ slightly between our UK car and those available in the U.S, but mechanically it's the same 1.5-liter, hybrid-assisted engine you'll find worldwide.

More power

Combined power from the engine and electric motor is 133-horsepower, 11 horses up on the old car. Officially, that's enough for a 9-second 0-62 mph sprint--around 7 tenths quicker than the previous model.

It still isn't a fast car, but feels peppy enough, and the little four-cylinder is as willing as ever. Hit sport mode, carried over from the previous model, and engine response is improved further, with an extra boost from the electric motor.

Even more boost is available if you press the new Plus Sport (S+) button on the steering wheel. When pressed, it gives you everything the electric motor's got for up to ten seconds, which is useful for freeway merging or overtaking.

A snappy manual gearshift and nimble handling also make the CR-Z a lot of fun to throw around, even if the ride feels a little firm sometimes. Refinement is good around town but some wind and tire noise does creep in at higher speeds.

Eco driving

Press the Eco mode button and things are a lot more relaxed.

Too relaxed, on occasion. We liked the engine's eagerness to shut down at lights (even if its criteria for doing so seemed to vary hugely--sometimes it would, sometimes it wouldn't), but we were less keen on the soft throttle response.

It can actually make pulling away quite difficult, particularly on inclines, and encourages a very relaxed getaway too. If you don't like other drivers welded to your rear bumper (and a tiny car with "Hybrid" on the trunk lid already encourages tailgaters) we'd suggest you leave it in "Normal", at least.

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