The mild-hybrid tech under its swooping coupé bodywork gives Honda’s CR-Z extra punch and impressive fuel economy. We say it’s a fun and reliable used car
9 July 2018

“The most frustrating thing about it is the way raindrops remain on the side windows after you’ve wound them down and back up.”

There, in a nutshell, is all one owner can find to criticise his CR-Z.

Strange, then, that so many of the pre-facelift cars available from 2010 to December 2012, and under discussion here, appear to have had numerous previous keepers. One independent Honda mechanic thinks he knows why: “People get bored because the car just works!”

Find a Honda CR-V for sale on PistonHeads

More likely they’re a teensy bit worried about the life expectancy of the little coupé’s nickel-metal hydride battery, whose five-year warranty has just expired. It can’t be anything to do with the way the car drives.

Our 2010 road test, for instance, called it “brisk enough to be fun, especially so in Sport mode”. We went on: “It’s not the miniature driver’s tool that the second-gen CR-X was but it’s different, stylish and engaging.”

Our Verdict

Honda CR-V

One of the first 'soft-roaders' returns for a new generation, but while upstarts like the Mazda CX-5 and BMW X3 have moved the segment on, does the Honda bring anything new?

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Maserati Levante S GranLusso 2019 road test review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    Car review
    Is this Ferrari-engined Levante the performance SUV it always should have...
  • Bentley Continental GT Convertible 2019 UK first drive review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    First Drive
    New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen...
  • Audi SQ5 2019 first drive review - hero front
    22 May 2019
    First Drive
    High-performance soft-roader adopts new sporty V6 diesel mild-hybrid power,...

Now, eight years on, it’s a lot cheaper, with mid-spec Sport models (the most popular trim) starting at around £4500 and top-spec GTs around a grand more. Compare that with 2010 prices, which ranged from £18,035 for the standard S (alloy wheels, power windows and mirrors, and climate control), through £19,095 for the Sport (cruise control and parking sensors) to £21,220 for the GT (heated leather seats,a sunroof and front foglights).

That wasn’t overly expensive for such a technically advanced car but pretty stiff all the same for one capable of mustering only 122bhp from its 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine and electric motor combined.

Fortunately, torque was a handy 128lb ft – delivered at just 1500rpm.

This healthy dollop of pulling power is why the CR-Z feels quite nippy. There are three driving modes to choose from via a rocker switch alongside the steering wheel. Most fun is Sport, which sharpens the steering and throttle response, while making the instruments glow red. Then there’s Normal, which makes the car feel slightly detuned and is the default setting. The third is Econ, which prioritises economy and should yield around 52mpg on a long run.

Check you can feel the differences between them on the test drive. Also ensure the centre of the speedometer changes colour according to your driving style: green for economy hero, turquoise for could do better and red for lead foot.

There was talk, in 2011, of a supercharged Mugen version but it never materialised. No worries: tuners such as Hond-R can fit a supercharger that raises power to 200bhp. They’ll also fit a set of coilovers. Do that or seek out a used CR-Z with the optional Eibach lowering springs, available from the end of 2010. Whichever CR-Z you buy, hopefully all you’ll have to complain about is rain water on the windows.

How to get one in your garage: 

An expert’s view: Simon Clarke, owner, Midland Honda services: “As a garage owner, I’m sorry to say that very little goes wrong with the CR-Z. I’ve even heard of front brake pads and discs lasting up to 100,000 miles. Of course, you have to remember it uses a combination of traditional mechanicals and an advanced electrical system. For mechanics, that means being qualified to work on both. You really need to know what you’re doing before you go anywhere near the IMA battery. The VTEC petrol engine uses a chain rather than a belt, so that’s one less thing to worry about.”

Buyer beware...

ENGINE: The CR-Z’s petrol engine is an i-VTEC 1.5 that likes an oil and filter change every 12,500 miles or 12 months.

POWER BATTERY: Ensure the battery warning light goes out after start-up and that the three drive modes (Sport, Normal and Econ) work. Check the battery gauge: when full, there’s enough power for three strong acceleration runs. Go for an extended test drive to be sure the battery is being recharged.

GEARBOX: The manual gearbox should be light, precise and mechanical. Check a high- miler for a slipping clutch by selecting a high gear at a crawl, releasing the clutch and listening for the engine revs remaining constant or rising.

BRAKES: Inspect for worn discs, although the CR-Z is generally light on its brakes.

SERVICE HISTORY: Check the book and supporting invoices. There are reports of some owners believing that being a hybrid means the car doesn’t require regular servicing.

SUSPENSION, WHEELS AND STEERING: Listen for knocking sounds caused by worn suspension bushes. Turn the front wheels to full lock and check the driveshaft boots for splits and leaks. Alloy wheels are vulnerable to kerbing.

BODY: Ensure the tailgate release operates.

INTERIOR: Check all dials, modes and switches work. Expect the air-con to blow warm when the car has been idling too long.

Also worth knowing:

When new, the CR-Z’s IMA battery warranty lasted five years or 90,000 miles. Honda dealers say the battery warning light will indicate if anything’s wrong. According to Honda UK, a new battery costs about £1000 plus fitting.

How much to spend:

£4500-£5450: Choice of 2010-2012 Sports, many of them private-sale cars, with around 75k-90k miles, multiple previous keepers and patchy service histories.

£5500-£5995: A few more 2011-2012 GTs with around 80k miles plus lower-mileage Sports.

£6000-£6495: Broad mix of 2010-2013 Sports and GTs with between 35k and 75k miles, a few with full Honda service histories.

£6500-£7495: Consistently higher-quality examples, including some Honda-approved used cars, such as a 2012 Sport with 44k miles for £7311.

One we found:

HONDA CR-Z SPORT, 2012/12, 69K MILES, £4900: New front tyres and brakes, a long MOT with no advisories and a mix of Honda and indie dealer service stamps in the book help this CR-Z to stand out. The seller claims it has averaged 47mpg in the past 10k miles. He says he’s only selling because the new baby won’t fit.

John Evans

Read more 

Honda CR-V review 

Honda Civic review 

Honda Civic Type R review

Join the debate

Comments
7

9 July 2018

Article mentions people are worried about the batery life so I was looking forward to the cost " £1000 plus fitting." so how much is the fitting????

47mpg, looks like the Toyota moved the game on with the Prius as 47 is nothing special for such a small average performing car.  Take the battery costs over 10 years and high inital costs into account and you can see why it was never a great seller in the UK

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

9 July 2018
Technically interesting but as the article hints pretty slow for a sports car and not that economical considering size . Worst of both worlds due to battery really . It was a manual however (and a Honda manual at that) which was/is unusual for a hybrid .

9 July 2018

Enjoyed a couple of test-drives in these 2 years ago, was quite seriously cosidering one for the commute. Prices were quite punchy at Honda though, and the ride was pretty choppy considering it wasn't hot-hatch quick. Great place to spend time in though - interior is still cool today.

9 July 2018
michael knight wrote:

Enjoyed a couple of test-drives in these 2 years ago, was quite seriously cosidering one for the commute. Prices were quite punchy at Honda though, and the ride was pretty choppy considering it wasn't hot-hatch quick. Great place to spend time in though - interior is still cool today.

I had one for a short while. Turned out to be the most uncomfortable car i have ever had. Felt OK in the test drive, but any period of time in the drivers seat lead to back ache. I am tall, and you cant adjust the under thigh support which might help. So from my point of view, great powertrain, nice looking car, well made, but just to uncomfortable to live with.

Another point the article doesnt mention, the later cars had a Lithium battery, and the electric motor produces about twice the power, so it feels much better. however the later battery pack is slightly bigger so the option of a spare wheel is lost.

 

9 July 2018
artill wrote:

michael knight wrote:

Enjoyed a couple of test-drives in these 2 years ago, was quite seriously cosidering one for the commute. Prices were quite punchy at Honda though, and the ride was pretty choppy considering it wasn't hot-hatch quick. Great place to spend time in though - interior is still cool today.

I had one for a short while. Turned out to be the most uncomfortable car i have ever had. Felt OK in the test drive, but any period of time in the drivers seat lead to back ache. I am tall, and you cant adjust the under thigh support which might help. So from my point of view, great powertrain, nice looking car, well made, but just to uncomfortable to live with.

Another point the article doesnt mention, the later cars had a Lithium battery, and the electric motor produces about twice the power, so it feels much better. however the later battery pack is slightly bigger so the option of a spare wheel is lost.

It may be similar to my Civic which gave me terrible back ache shortly after I bought it. The problem for me was the seat base was angled too steeply and the back rest had insufficient lumbar support. In the end I bought a £10 foam wedge from Amazon and it sorted the angle of the seat base and even helped with the lumbar support by putting my back in a different place on the seat. Still got the car and the wedge over 3 years on.

9 July 2018

I enjoy driving mine, it is fun if not fast and quite economical, yes a prius will better it economy wise but theyre chalk and cheese, totally different cars, hondas hybrids were small engines with an electric boost, like a small turbo, this helped keep emissions down compared with a similar petrol and helped boost economy. It either works for you or doesnt I suppose, suzukis new hybrids are a similar concept. I had an insight before which I also found to be very good, both easily capable of exceeding 50mpg on a run.

9 July 2018

I would agree that the CR-Z was a non starter when new - not fast or economical enough, just two usable seats (and agreed, not particularly comfortable ones), expensive and depreciation was terrible. But as a secondhand buy, I'd recommend it for those who want something different, affordable, moderately sport and reasonably economical compared with most petrol cars. 

Certainly I've enjoyed driving mine.I like the model's comparative rarity (especially compared with obvious choices like the Fiesta and Mini), the hybrid aspect is interesting and produces good low speed torque, reasonable economy and, well... it simply feels good to drive!

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Maserati Levante S GranLusso 2019 road test review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    Car review
    Is this Ferrari-engined Levante the performance SUV it always should have...
  • Bentley Continental GT Convertible 2019 UK first drive review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    First Drive
    New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen...
  • Audi SQ5 2019 first drive review - hero front
    22 May 2019
    First Drive
    High-performance soft-roader adopts new sporty V6 diesel mild-hybrid power,...