Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sporty Planet-Saver

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sporty Planet-Saver

Article excerpt

Byline: EDWARD STEPHENS

THE appeal of hybrid cars has not really tempted young motorists looking for a sporty drive to get them noticed.

Perhaps that's because most hybrids tend to be saloons and hatchbacks designed with the family in mind.

The same cannot be said of Honda's CR-Z, however, with its trendy sports coupe design, sharp performance and racing-style handling.

When you look at this car, the last thing you think of is a vehicle designed to help save the planet.

Beneath that extrovert exterior lies a car which runs on a combination of both engine and battery power and gives you some 56 miles per gallon while having modest CO emissions.

Oddly enough, the CR-Z operates unlike most hybrids I have driven, where the initial power comes from the battery and the car runs silently until it picks up speed and the engine cuts in.

On the CR-Z, the 1.5-litre, 114bhp engine and the 14bhp electric motor work almost permanently in tandem to produce impressive performance while at the same time remaining frugal. So while you don't get silent running, you do get economy.

As befits its sports car image, the CR-Z has a very firm suspension so you feel most of the bumps in the road. The upside of that is its limpet-like road holding even on the sharpest of corners. Direct, almost gokart-like steering adds to the driving fun.

The cabin is smart and hi-tech, with gauges to show you how environmentally friendly your driving is - or isn't - a gear shift indicator for the best economy and a digital speedometer which dominates the dashboard.

You have a choice of three modes of driving, eco, normal and sport. Eco is really for heavy traffic town motoring to save fuel. Leave it in eco on the open road and the car feels positively sluggish.

In normal mode it gives respectable performance, but switch to Sport and the car grows horns. …

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