Used Honda CR-Z buying guide
The Honda CR-Z is one of the more unusual hybrids you can buy. Firstly, it’s a genuinely sporty coupe, and secondly, it comes with a manual gearbox. That makes it the ideal choice for those looking for a small, fun hybrid that offers a really engaging driving experience.
Despite this, the Honda CR-Z didn’t exactly fly out of showrooms – less than 4,300 were sold in six years. Maybe that quirky blend of talents arrived a few years too early, but even today electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrids aren’t 10 a penny – certainly not with an affordable price tag.
This rarity is a double-edged sword for used Honda CR-Z buyers. On the one hand, you may well have to travel long distances to find the perfect car. That’s tempered by the fact that many owners are enthusiastic, lavishing care on their car. Most have covered low mileages, too.
While the driving experience is fun, and the design appealing and quirky inside and out, the CR-Z isn’t suited to everyone. That’s primarily due to the lack of space – the boot is small, and the rear seats are really unsuitable for adults. Other drawbacks include a firm ride, poor rear visibility and, while it looks and steers like a sports car, its relative lack of power means it doesn’t accelerate like one.
Despite this, a stylish and quirky nature and relative obscurity could eventually push the CR-Z into classic-car status. If you’re looking for a reliable and fun car that could make a sound future investment, the Honda CR-Z is certainly worth a look.
Perhaps it’s because the CR-Z sold in such small numbers that it didn’t really change much throughout its life. It launched in 2010 and was discontinued in 2016, and while there were a number of trims, there was only one generation, making choosing the ideal version for you fairly straightforward.
When the Honda CR-Z first hit the showrooms in June 2010, buyers could choose between S, Sport, Sport-T and GT trims. There was only one engine at the time: a 112bhp 1.5-litre petrol, assisted by a 14bhp electric motor. Total power was 122bhp. It’s worth noting that the motor works alongside the engine, not instead of it, meaning the car can’t be driven using its electric motors alone.
A faster version appeared in November 2011. Given a working-over by Honda’s performance division Mugen, it offered up a slightly more spritely 0-62mph of between 9.9 and 10.1 seconds, depending on the trim chosen. In January 2013, a mildly facelifted version went on sale, sporting a power boost to 119bhp, a more sophisticated lithium-ion battery replacing the old metal-hydride unit, plus new exterior paint options.
Which one should I buy?
If your budget can stretch, go for a post-2013 model, as its lithium-ion battery is more durable and efficient, making it capable of storing more energy. There are two downsides though – those batteries are more expensive to replace, and of the 4,292 sold in the UK, just 515 came so-equipped.
Otherwise, it’s a case of choosing the trim to suit your needs and your budget. The most basic S trim is rare, and aside from 16-inch alloy wheels, climate control and a skid-reducing electronic stability programme (ESP), wasn't particularly well appointed.
The Sport is more appealing, with its power-folding door mirrors, rear parking sensors (a boon, because the rear visibility isn’t great), audio controls on the steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, tinted glass and a subwoofer for the stereo. Sport-T added Bluetooth connectivity and sat nav. Top-spec GT cars boast leather trim, heated front seats, automatic windscreen wipers and a panoramic glass roof.
Used Honda CR-Z alternatives
The bottom line is there aren’t any. There were a few small coupes available at the time, such as the Audi TT, Volkswagen Scirocco, Peugeot RCZ and Hyundai Veloster, but none of these were available as a hybrid.
However, it’s not all bad if you’re looking to eke out every drop of fuel in a sporty coupe. While the Hyundai and Mazda are petrol-only, there are diesel versions of the TT, Scirocco and RCZ – all three of while offer more space than the CR-Z, too.
What to look for
Economy: While the Honda CR-Z claims 56mpg officially, most owners get around 45mpg, which is closer to what you’d achieve in one of its diesel alternatives.
Bootlid rattles: Some CR-Z owners report the bootlid rattling where the upper edge taps against the bodywork. Sticking draught excluder along the edge is a cheap and easy way of quieting things down.
Rear seats: The Honda CR-Z has two rear seats, but they’re only suitable for small children. Some owners have taken to folding the rear seats down to grow boot space from 225 to a reasonable 401 litres, treating the car as a two-seater.
Rear visibility: Dirt sticks to the lower section of the screen, and while the rear boot spoiler might improve aerodynamics and fuel economy, it obscures rear and rear three-quarter visibility. This is less of a problem on Sport, Sport-T and GT models, which come with rear parking sensors, although they don’t solve the blind spots that make joining dual-carriageways tricky.
Interior: The low-slung seating position means headroom is good, and adds to the sporty feel.
Honda CR-Z owners enjoy cheap road tax and low fuel bills. Servicing may cost a little more, as some independent garages may be reluctant to work on a hybrid. Service intervals are every 12 months or 12,500 miles, and the services alternate between minor and major.
Owners don’t have to worry about changing the timing belt, as it has a maintenance-free timing chain. However brake fluid needs replacing every three years/37,500 miles, and the coolant replaced at 10 years/125,000 miles (and five years/62,500 miles after that). Neither jobs will break the bank, though.
Only one Honda CR-Z recall was issued, affecting around 3,000 cars built between December 2009 and June 2011. Software bugs in the engine computer (ECU) could cause the car to move forward or backwards if it were to stall, but a simple software fix cured the problem.
Too few Honda CR-Zs are on the road to gather reliable data to plot owner satisfaction, but Honda frequently scores strongly in our Driver Power survey.