It is a helpless feeling, as a qualified driver, being ferried from A to B by friends, family and, God forbid, taxi drivers. All of whom you invariably decide cannot drive within five seconds of setting off.
I have always seen myself as driver rather than a petrolhead. Since my first spin in a kart, I have held in high esteem the skill and bravery of those in Formula One who push their cars to the ragged edge for a living – not to mention Martin Brundle’s legendary gridwalks. Part of the problem is, despite holding a licence, I neither own nor can afford a car, so have been sadly confined to the passenger’s seat of late.
This was until I took Honda’s stunning CR-Z out for a spin this week. Taking design cues from the Civic, its thoroughbred brother, the CR-Z is Honda’s flagship hybrid model – and it really is a looker. Sleek, rakish curves bevel to a fierce, pointed nose while at the rear, the angular bodywork flanks like angelic wings to accommodate a voluminous boot.
The result is a striking clash of modern sensibilities and sci-fi stylings. In fact, the CR-Z would hardly look out of place in Blade Runner or Tron, the only difference being it would be patrolling the skies rather than the roads.
Having recently ditched the base S model, Honda now offers the CR-Z in just two configurations: Sport or GT. Both come equipped with Honda’s 1.5 litre Integrated Motor Assist engine – a traditional 112bhp petrol engine backed up by an electric motor which boosts performance by up to 14bhp when called on.
It is certainly not short of power, and given Honda’s propensity to build engines which sing when revved, the CR-Z’s electric motor allows you to apply its ample torques to the road even at low revs, even if this does have a knock-on effect when you ascend through the gears.
Specifically, Honda’s decision to include a sixth gear means while gears one through five feel sluggish, you really have to rev fifth hard before your final upshift. Furthermore, the gearing slots are woefully close together, making it all too easy to slip the car into the wrong gear or miss neutral.
Still, the CR-Z breaks the 60 barrier in ten seconds and tops out at a nifty 124mph when in Sport mode. Impressive.
But in many ways, the CR-Z is hybrid by name, not by nature. This was hammered home when the Honda rep told me the car’s electric power quotient would struggle to shift us further than a mile on its own.
Inside, the CR-Z’s spacious interior provides an enjoyable environment for two people to travel in comfort.
The ride is soft but not at the expense of poise, air conditioning comes as standard and the steering wheel and gear stick are both tastefully adorned with a leather trim.
It is beyond me as to why Honda have chosen to cram two seats in the back, but, thankfully, the seats do fold away to complement the CR-Z’s generous boot and under-floor space.
I found myself struggling to adopt a comfortable sitting position because of the CR-Z’s low-slung profile and disappointingly slack clutch.
Coupled with a lack of suitable locking increments on the driver’s seat, I had soon sunk deep into my seat, nose pressed up against the wheel, stretching to fully depress the clutch.
This did give me ample opportunity to study the dashboard, which is colour-coded according to the CR-Z’s modes: Sport, Normal and Econ.
But Honda’s infuriating eco-training system and distracting 3D speedometer will have you glancing at dials every few seconds if you want to extract the 56.5mpg which Honda insists the CR-Z can achieve.
But you hardly need to worry about fuel economy, because the CR-Z is very reasonably priced.
Luxuries like rear parking sensors, an illuminated glove box and wheel-mounted stereo controls come as standard on the Sport model, which costs a shade under £19,000.
And as the CR-Z is a hybrid, remember, you will not owe the taxman a penny extra. Options include leather upholstery and alloy wheels.
The CR-Z is a stunningly attractive car which is fun to drive, pleasant to travel in and eminently affordable, even if its green credentials are dubious given the lack of overall power from the car’s electric motor.
Silly oversights like the seating position and baffling dashboard will also infuriate some prospective buyers. But ask yourself this: is it worth turning down a car this good looking on account of petty foibles?
The choice is yours.