If you care about the environment but need a car, hybrid vehicles such as the Honda CR-Z can help ease your conscience, writes car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay.
The Honda CR-Z relies on unleaded fuel and a boosting buzz of electrical energy to set it in motion.
Forget any thoughts of taking many passengers though, if you want one as your main set of wheels.
The CR-Z is a small, low-slung coupé, and its backseats are only of use if your children or friends are the same size as mouse film character Stuart Little.
But that's to be expected as Honda has purposefully designed the CR-Z for "urban living", so the compact car is aimed at young professionals who are likely to live in trendy city areas.
Cheap road tax
As it’s a hybrid, the Honda has reduced exhaust emissions and it benefits from cheap road tax.
Also, because it's one of the world’s first sporty battery/petrol fusions, the CR-Z's modish looks stand out from other eco-friendly cars.
Astonishingly, it offers decent driving thrills too.
Thanks to an alert chassis, direct steering and nifty boosts of pulling power from the petrol-electric drivetrain, the CR-Z's definitely most at home in metropolitan environments.
It whizzes through the backstreets and nips in and out of traffic with ease.
The only problem occurs when you're parallel parking or reversing. The rear screen has a horizontal bar running right across its width, seriously impeding visibility.
Behind the wheel, the cockpit looks mega-modern with space-age dials and switchgear.
Accommodation-wise, the CR-Z has a 2+2 layout.
But I'm not sure if Honda means two people in the front, plus two parcels in the back because, as I've said, that’s all the rear couple of seats are good for.
There's 225 litres of boot space, which isn't a huge amount of room but seeing as you'll never have a human in the back, you can fold the seats down to increase space at the touch of a button.
Choose your driving setting
The athletic Honda isn't just a sleek coupé: it also lets you choose what kind of driver you want to be.
There are three different driving settings: "Sport", "Normal" and "Econ".
In Sport you can pep up the car's steering weight and responsiveness, while Econ generates a placid, almost lifeless feel.
In Normal-mode the car behaves just like a standard hatchback.
The CR-Z also features a Plus Sport (S+) system which provides a short-lived swell of power to increase straight line performance.
56.5 mpg and low CO2 emissions
But how does the petrol-electric set up work on the CR-Z?
Well, without getting too technical, Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) battery system gives the car's 1.5 litre petrol engine a shot in the arm of electricity, resulting in a collective output of 135 bhp.
The upshot is a combined economy of 56.5 mpg and CO2 emissions of 116 g/km.
The Honda CR-Z will certainly please the style conscious because it's an eye-catching vehicle with fashionable technology and a cool "green" image.
And if safety is top of your list when buying a car, then rest assured, the CR-Z is categorised as one of Europe's safest motors, after independent crash test results from Euro NCAP.
Honda CR-Z: Pros & cons
- Environmentally friendly √
- Sporty √
- Image √
- Rear visibility X
- Rear seats X
Honda CR-Z: Fast facts
- Max speed: 124 mph
- 0-62 mph: 9.1 secs
- Combined mpg: 56.5
- Engine: 1497cc 4 cylinder 16 valve petrol/electric
- Max. power (bhp): 135 at 6,600 rpm
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 140 at 1,000-2,000
- CO2: 116 g/km
- Price: £20,750
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