If Lefty had lived in Europe, he'd be very disappointed right now. He's still not getting upped. But, then again, Sonny Red isn't either. It's some new guy... a Mr. Green. Right, forget about it.
Mr. Green has made his presence felt for a few years now. Some say he is quite a visionary guy, advocating a bright future through logic and frugality. Petrolheaded wiseguys used to laugh at him, but, strangely enough, their charisma started to fade. Suddenly people were looking the other way and couldn't be persuaded to come back, not even with big-bore V8s or sweet burnout-fumes.
And now the (European) Commission wants to whack the Type-R. I tell ya, these are dark times indeed. A pureblooded hot hatch getting the axe (at the end of this year) 'cause it can't do right by some emissions standard?!
Surprisingly, Honda isn't fighting the result of this sit-down. It's not making the Type-R Euro5 compliant; it simply retires it. That means, however absurd it may sound, that soon, the sportiest Japanese model in Europe will be the CR-Z. A hybrid! The S2000 must be really turning in its grave...
Still, we must give the newcomer a chance. It must prove itself, but we're not going to pull any strings in its favor. If it can stand up to the Type-R Championship White, be it only in attitude, it will definitely win a place in our hearts and, who knows, maybe it's going to be made. Otherwise we'd really like to see Mr. Green swimming with the, ahem, fishes.
The Champ is a limited edition model - only 2010 units built - that enhances the standard Type-R both on looks and innards. The white guise looks great, particularly those 18-inch alloys, and having a LSD sure does help on slippery roads. Also, that numbered plaque (950 on this particular car) near the shifter makes you feel real good, as if you just got accepted in an elite club.
Sure, there are many other fantastic cars, but a Type-R never had to be ashamed of its roots. It's not the fastest, meanest or strongest in class, but it does have a place assured in the Pantheon o' hot hatches.
I'd give it an A+ on looks alone. The design of this thing is fresh even now, 4 years and countless revamped competitors later. No one came close to it, as Honda finally decided to do something original. Much better than being a copycat, eh?
Then there is the fantastic i-VTEC engine. 200 horses don't seem that much, but the way it howls and goes through the rev-range is mind-boggling. You have to be fast to keep up with the shifts, but luckily, the shifter is a trusty companion in this endeavor. Gear ratios are short, making good use of the 142 lb-ft of torque.
Firm suspensions round up the list of usual suspects, providing plenty of in corner poise and speed to make the Type-R the icing on a heap of driving fun.
So, does the CR-Z really stand a chance? Knowing that in Europe it costs the same as the Type-R and it has a little over half of its horsepower, you'd be tempted to utter a fast and definite no. But few things in life are only black or white and Honda's newest hybrid is not one of them.
When I saw the first pictures, I wasn't convinced by the look. Sure, I got the CRX reference, but something seemed artificial about it. Kinda forced, you know.
Seeing it in the flesh changes this. If you're like me and consider the Civic the pinnacle of Honda design, then you'll like the CR-Z. It is a different, fresh take on the manga theme.
I like the shark snout, the lower stance and the - you guessed it - CRX-like back. It all comes together nicely in person.
I'd like to keep on parading, but the specs bring me down again. The 1.5-liter petrol engine delivers only 114 HP and 107 lb-ft of torque. Surely you can't charge Type-R money for only this? Well, no, because there's an electric motor as well - a PR would proudly tell you.
The thing is, though, that it's only good for 17 more horses. Bummer.
On the other hand, the torque it delivers sounds better, namely 58 lb-ft, as it's available from 0 to 1500 rpm that is from real down low.
Ultimately, you can't linearly add up all these figures, so the combined power is actually 124 HP and 128 lb-ft. Pretty scarce if you ask me.
But, surprise: the CR-Z is fun to drive. The IMA won't blast you into orbit, but, in Sport mode, it delivers enough grunt. The suspension feels pretty soft, still you're not going to fall off the road, neither are you going to shatter your kidneys on bad roads. It is quite a good compromise, a setup that lets you feel pretty exactly, alongside the feedback from the steering wheel, what's going on with the car in any given moment. Furthermore, let my jaw drop in awe regarding the extreme precision of the six speed manual gearbox. It even trumps the one in the Type-R.
The bottom line is that the CR-Z has an obvious handicap (price, lack of power), but it still manages to punch above its weight. And it does this because Honda understood that being friends with Mr. Green just for the looks of it is not enough. You have to really bond with him, to get on his fun side. And the CR-Z does just that.
We can argue on the necessity of "change" until I'll be confirmed as America's Next Top Car Blogger and we might still be nowhere. One thing will be true, nevertheless. Things always change. Even on Mulberry Street and even if Lefty and the gang don't like it. So, if we MUST go green then I like the path the CR-Z has taken. And, from this perspective, it's the new boss.
This piece was written and submitted by a Jalopnik reader and may not express views held by Jalopnik or its staff. But maybe they will become our views. It all depends on whether or not this person wins by whit of your eyeballs in our reality show, "Who Wants to be America's Next Top Car Blogger?"