It's not an econo hatchback for all, but a niche market hybrid perfectly targeted to appeal to a certain group of consumers. No, it doesn't attract the ultra granolas, nor is it a hit with the sort of enthusiasts who know their Hondas not by name, but by chassis code. Instead, the CR-Z is built to appeal to young, urban individuals who value style, fuel economy and a fun-to-drive spirit.
There are a lot of misconceptions about this new Honda product, and it's easy to dump on a car that isn't extraordinary in any one obvious way. With 122-hp it won't deliver the thrills of a K24 in an EK (yea, we know Honda codes too), nor does it get the fuel economy of a Fiesta or a Prius, with a 35/39-mpg fuel economy rating. And it's not a sports car – although it certainly handles like one. Nor is it a hybrid in the way people expect, meaning that it doesn't and isn't intended to deliver a revolutionary change to the way we drive.
Forget all that; the CR-Z isn't competing with the Fiesta, nor is it up against the Prius, or any other hybrids on the market for that matter. Pigeonholed into a single segment, the CR-Z is the catastrophic failure any Honda fanboy with a modified CRX will tell you it is. But when looked at as a whole it represents a vehicle that's more than the sum of its parts and so much more than these other cars, delivering a package that's good on fuel, great on the eyes, a blast to drive and an urban status symbol.
Not convinced? Just forget it's a hybrid for a second and imagine a MINI Cooper that gets better fuel economy, is just as fun to drive, looks 1,000 times better (inside and out) and is virtually guaranteed to have absolutely stellar reliability. That's right, the CR-Z is a better Cooper and, coincidentally, is priced almost identically.
More: 2011 Honda CR-Z Review [video] on AutoGuide.com