Saturday, December 03, 2016

Long Term Ownership Review: CRZ

Before I was into running, I had been a petrol head (car guy) for as long as I could remember, probably as early as when I first got my driver's license almost 2 decades ago. 
The first car I bought when a started working in 2005 was a beat up old Honda Civic EG sedan, which I got for dirt cheap (RM17K) and then proceeded to mod the hell out of it throughout my 8 years of ownership. Many of those fond car memories were detailed out a lot, in my early years of blogging. 
It wasn't until 2012 that I was finally able to afford a brand new car. Given the tax exemption on hybrid cars, the ridiculous petrol prices - RM2.80/litre at that time, and my preference for fun to drive cars with sporty handling, the Honda CR-Z hybrid was the obvious choice that ticked all my boxes. Getting it as my 2nd car meant I could still live with the practicality (or lack of) of a daily driven coupe, which literally only fits 2 adults comfortably. Mine is a 2012 pre-face lift with manual transmission.
Fast forward to December 2016, this is my take on the car after almost four and a half years of ownership.

Drive-ability: It has always been a fun to drive car, even more so with the crisp manual transmission with short-shifter especially on twisty and winding roads. The handling, decent and predictable. It corners well for a car with such short wheel base. The performance figures looks pedestrian on paper: 122bhp @ 6000rpm and 174Nm @ 1000 - 1500rpm from a 1.5L powerplant. It really does feels much faster and sharper when driven, the acceleration from standstill is quite brisk, thanks to the electric motor assist. The readily accessible torque from low revs is probably what makes the car so fun to drive, coupled with the compact handling package. Since I have a heavy right foot and can't endure sluggish engine response, keeping the car predominantly in Sports mode is a natural thing for me to do. In the Normal or Econ mode, the engine response to the throttle input is further dampened or muted to regulate the acceleration to be more gradual, supposedly to achieve better driving economy. The bucket seats, and low slung seating position enhances the sporty driving experience on most days, but on bad-back days getting in and out of the car can be quite a workout.

Fuel Economy: Consistently getting 500+ km per full tank (about 35 litres) which translates to about an average of 13.5 - 15.0km/litre fuel economy. No where close to the claims of 20.0km/litre, but then again almost all my commutes are in the city and usually very short drives of about 3.5km to work. Will probably see fuel economy figures closer to the reported claims if my commutes are further distances and more of highway driving. I run it on RON95 mostly. 

Maintainability/ Reliability: Routine and typical maintenance requirements comparable to non-hybrid cars. Just the usual periodic fluid, filters and consumables change-out. Apart from punctured tires and a jammed glove box compartment, have not encountered any mechanical or electronic issues throughout the period of ownership. There were earlier occurrences with the IMA battery draining itself flat mid-way through driving, but there were no actual impact and it usually recharges back off load. Warranty on the IMA battery has been extended to 7 years as per memo issued by Honda Malaysia, and with the maturing technology on hybrid cars, the costs of these batteries will continue to go down with the economies of scale achieved. The only time the car broke down was when I drove it to the point of fuel starvation on at least 2 occasions. Lessons learnt: When the estimated Range goes to '0' km, there is still approximately 5 litres of fuel left in the tank, potentially good to go for another 60 km.

Value for Money: With the previous tax exemption for hybrid cars in place, this is a good buy at RM112K. You get CBU build quality, 6-air bags, 6-speaker ICE setup, cruise control, auto-stop idling, 3-drive modes, solid chassis with good sound proofing, LED headlights, and a sporty looking and handling car. Of course by no means, is it a sports car. Just a fun to drive sporty looking car with decent handling, and efficient little engine with potential for upgrade.

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