We’ve seen it before, that slippery shape. The bronzen Honda CR-Z cuts a striking form, albeit hauntingly familiar. It takes stylistic cues of course from the late 80s sensation, the Honda CR-X hatchback which caused a fair stir amongst South Africa’s petrolheads, and continues to find favour with the followers of Hondas and Japanese car culture in general. So it’s with much trepidation that we discover that its spiritual successor is indeed a hybrid, one charged with carrying the torch to a more environmentally conscience youth via its 1.5 iVtec hybrid powertrain.
And that’s why it is capable of a brilliantly efficient 5l/100km combined cycle, and only spews out 117g/100km. Hybrid indeed. Unfortunately it also explains why the new car sprints two seconds slower to 100kph, crossing the line in 10 seconds – it only produces 84kW and weighs 1140kg, over 200kg more than the old car. But to examine it on paper would be to miss out on what the CR-Z is all about. Fun!
It’s the car that you fall in love with after the first corner, Honda’s new hybrid-hatch is a brilliant little handler as well as an entertainment powerhouse thanks to multimedia connectivity provided in spades, as well as a cockpit that comes alive with an organic lighting system that makes the Millenium Falcon look more antiquated than ever. We like it. A lot, but thought we’d get the opinion on an owner of the original pocket rocket. We met up with Van Heerden Heunis, self-professed lover of the Honda CR-X, and with four examples of the species parked outside his Somerset West residence – we’re in no position to argue with the man. Here’s his take on the Honda Civic: Revolution X.
First cometh the CR-X; then follows the CR-Z
Reader Review: Van Heerden Heunis
Cars, in many ways, are like people. Some are fascinating, gorgeous and stimulating; others are disgusting, hideous and dull. Some are feisty, dependable and extraordinary; others are dreary, fickle and forgettable. Some captivate the senses; others turn the stomach.
Take, for instance, the incomparable SsangYong Stavic. Incomparable, for it is the perfect embodiment of automotive imperfection. For sheer, unlimited repulsiveness it truly is in a class of its own. No other car can come remotely close.
Thankfully, automotive insults to humanity like the abominable SS are few and far between, and the motor industry richly has endowed the world with an almost endless variety of cars of singular beauty and appeal. Amongst them are sterling specimen from the likes of Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Bugatti, Citroën, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborgini, Lotus, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Nissan, Porsche, Renault, Rolls-Royce, Volkswagen, Volvo, and, of course, Honda.
Initially renowned for producing brilliant motorcycles, Honda increasingly expanded and brought into fruition what it termed the power of dreams. It did so, amongst other things, by establishing itself also as a leading car manufacturer.
Alas, Honda’s first gems, notably the diminutive S500’s, S600’s and S800’s of the 1960’s, passed us by and only a very few of these cuties made their way to South Africa. Ditto the first Civics.
This changed for the better in the early 1980’s, when Honda quietly, almost unobtrusively, entered the South African motoring world.
Although Honda’s boxy Ballade cut a pretty conservative picture, it soon became well-liked and well-respected for its build-quality, reliability and durability. Indeed, quality was the hallmark of its sure-footed trail, but its slipstream in terms of design was rather middle-of-the-road. It was rock-solid and endearing, yet bland and uninspiring.
Then, in the mid-eighties, the Japs delightfully turned on the revs with the Honda Pop-up. Indeed, the newcomer popped up in surprising style, for it sported spunk in addition to the marquee’s renowned build-quality. The 160i was a blast.
Increasingly it became clear that Honda had many more automotive aces up its sleeve, and it played them with almost regular monotony. With the inimitable Dohc, the revered Prelude, the delectable Del Sol, the awesome NSX, the iconic S2000, and now the cutting-edge CR-Z, Honda deftly and repeatedly turned the proverbial table on the opposition.
But perhaps the car that most clearly epitomised Honda’s ability to set the pace and clinch the contest is its sport compact, 2-door hatchback of the eighties and early nineties, the great small car, the Honda CR-X.
Though it was wrapped in almost countless packages, the CR-X became loved and, indeed, adored for its sleek and sexy shape, its astounding performance, its nimble handling, its remarkable economy and its unrivalled reliability. Two decades down the line all the traits of this pocket rocket are still comparable with the best of the best. Very few, if any, normally aspirated modern cars with a similar engine capacity can keep up with the CR-X; not only in respect of performance and handling, but certainly also in respect of economy, reliability and even looks.
Put differently: In its heyday the CR-X glimmered like a gem: Car & Driver hailed it as “the definitive entry-level sports car” and Road & Track repeatedly named it one of the “ten best cars in the world”. Today the CR-X still sparkles as brilliantly, threatening to outshine even Honda’s very own new pearl. And, the CR-Z even has a battery pack to boot!