The cabin comes only with silver cloth and two-tone dash, door panels, and carpeting. The EX package adds an impressive 360-watt, seven-speaker sound system, HID headlights, fog lights, aluminum pedals, a few silver interior trim pieces, and Bluetooth, which makes buying it almost mandatory these days. The only other option available is navigation. The CR-Z comes standard with the usual power goodies, automatic climate control, and auxiliary audio inputs, but if you need a sunroof, heated seats, or keyless-go, you'll have to look elsewhere. And if "elsewhere" is behind the car, you'll wish the CR-Z was available with a backup camera-the D-pillars could block an entire neighborhood.
A Honda to be driven hard
For sprinting around your neighborhood, the Fit's front strut-type suspension has been upgraded with aluminum control arms, and disc brakes have found their way to the edges of the torsion-beam rear suspension. The fast steering rack's electric power assist motor is 30 percent more robust than the Fit's in the event you need to make repeated and hasty use of the CR-Z's teensy turning circle. Since the CR-Z weighs about the same as an Insight and around 100 pounds less than the Fit, the implication of these upgrades is clear: this Honda is meant to be driven hard.
To that end, Honda took the Fit's gas engine and added the electric motor and IMA system found in the Insight. With some slight revisions to the intake plumbing necessary to clear the low hood, the 1.5-liter SOHC four-cylinder makes a few less ponies than it does in the Fit, a total of 113 hp at 6000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm. The electric motor adds up to 13 hp (at 1500 rpm) and 58 lb-ft (from 1000 to 1500 rpm) for a total combined power output of 122 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque.
Finally, a hybrid with a manual transmission
With less than 2700 pounds to haul around, the CR-Z is lively, and especially so with the manual transmission. A CVT-replete with shift paddles that imitate seven fixed ratios-is available, but we prefer the stick. The six-speed manual costs this Honda 3 mpg on the EPA combined cycle, but the CR-Z is the only hybrid available with a clutch pedal, and we wouldn't dream of leaving that offer on the table.
With short throws, the shifter is typically Honda in its delightful weight and precision, and the clutch pedal's takeup is smooth and linear. In fact, once you're driving the CR-Z, you could easily forget it's a hybrid at all. The biggest clue happens when you come to a stop and notice that the engine has switched off. It intuitively and quickly restarts as you engage first gear to move off, and the electric motor shows its low-end torque when starting out on a hill. In every way, though, the manual-transmission CR-Z is the least hybrid-y hybrid ever. Even the brake feel is excellent, with no obvious point of transition between regenerative and friction brakes.