It’s only two and a half years since the launch of Honda’s delightful little sports hybrid, the CR-Z, but apparently it’s already time for a mid-life makeover. The company has made a fairly typical set of tweaks to the car’s bumpers and grille, spruced up the interior, and offered a couple of arresting new colours – violet and yellow, apparently. But much more importantly, Honda’s engineers have been busy updating and uprating the hybrid power system.
The most noticeable change is the appearance of a “Sport Plus” button on the steering wheel, which gives a 10-second max-power boost from the electric motor when the throttle is mashed against the carpet. This additional shove can be called upon from any of the car’s three main modes – Economy, Normal or Sport – and is available as long as there’s at least 50% charge in the battery when you hit the button.
The battery itself has been upgraded – a new lithium-ion unit replaces the old nickel-metal-hydride pack – and the hybrid electric motor has also been given a boost. Motor power is now up from 15kW (20bhp) to 20kW (27bhp). The 1.5-litre petrol engine has been remapped and the valve timing tweaked, boosting power from 112bhp to 119bhp. Overall peak power has climbed to 135bhp at 6,600rpm, up by 7bhp.
As a result of all this tweakery, the 2013 CR-Z should feel noticeably more nippy when pressed. The base Sport model will now tidy away the sprint to 62mph in 9.1 seconds (down from 10.0 seconds), while the slightly heavier GT will do the job in 9.5 seconds (down from 10.1).
Equally importantly, all this extra zip has been stitched into the CR-Z without ripping into its emissions score. It still hits 56.5 mpg on the combined cycle test and scores an admirable 116g/km CO2 rating in Sport guise, or 54.3 mpg and 122g/km in GT format.
There’s a “but” coming, of course. Prices are up, sufficient to put all editions of the CR-Z on the far side of £20,000. Although to be fair that’s because today’s entry-level £18,035 “S” trim level is being dropped, leaving only the Sport at £20,550 (up £1,455) and GT at £23,050 (up £1,830).
Orders are open now, with the first deliveries due in January.