Offering hope for the future
Honda's CR-Z is an affordably-priced livewire sports coupe that rather uniquely, uses hybrid power for fun as well as frugality. Sensible, it seems, can also be sporty, especially in the case of this revised version, improved with more power, clever gadgetry and smarter looks.
Since we've already seen electrically-powered and diesel-engined sportscars, the concept of a hybrid sportster shouldn't be too shocking, but somehow it still is.
In the CR-Z's case, that might have something to do with its creation from the platform of one of the least sporty cars Honda has ever made, the family-orientated five-door MK2 hybrid Insight. It's not a promising start and was a formula not helped in the original version of this car by a decided modest 122bhp power output, 14bhp from the electric motor and the remainder provided by a 1.5-litre VTEC petrol engine borrowed from a humble Jazz supermini.
Hence the changes made to this revised model, with small but significant tweaks to both engine and electric motor pushing the collective output to a far more acceptable 137PS, good enough if you're quick with the beautifully sweet-shifting manual gearbox to reduce the 0-62mph time from 9.7s to 9.0s and up the maximum speed to 124mph.
There's a smarter look with a smarter front bumper, a revised grille, more striking alloy wheels and, at the back, a different aerodynamic diffuser design.
The suspension features aluminium components and damper settings aimed at achieving a firm ride.
This remains a fascinating car, a futuristic attempt to fuse frugality with a healthy helping of sheer fun.
Naturally, there are more efficient hybrids.
Having said all that, there's nothing else that enables you to bring the two extremes together with such a guilt-free glow. This is a design that, at a stroke, makes you feel more hopeful about the future of motoring.
And about Honda's credentials for remaining at the forefront of cutting edge technology. Some won't get it. Others will fail to see the point. But if speed isn't everything, you've a passion for fast, fun cars and you're one of those who thinks outside the box, then I think you'll love it.