The Wheel Deal

Fixing you up with life in the fast lane.
Posted: December 10th, 2013 | By Thomas Falkiner

CR-Z Clarens

The problem with driving a classic car is that no matter how reliable you think it may be there is always the chance that something, some vital mechanical component, might give up the ghost at an inopportune moment.

Especially when embarking on a lengthy road trip to a fairly remote destination. Yes, that’s just how old man Murphy works. This is why, three weeks ago, I shadowed two classic air-cooled Porsches to Clarens in the Eastern Free State. In case anything happened to my dad’s 1981 911 SC or stepmother’s 1961 356 coupé, I would be there in my Honda CR-Z to help pick up the pieces.

Fortunately it proved a fairly sedate trip. The last long-distance drive I undertook behind the wheel of the CR-Z, to Kalahari Desert SpeedWeek and back, turned into an impromptu Cannonball Run.

I have already received one speeding fine from the Kalahari jaunt and I’m pretty sure there are many more en route to my postbox as we speak. Anyway, this time round we all stuck to the national limit — purely because the Porsches are heavy on fuel and cruising at 120km/h makes the most financial sense.

So I assumed my position at the back of the convoy and concentrated on using as little juice as possible. This meant making the most of Econ Mode and keeping a beady eye on the instantaneous fuel consumption meter. And it paid off.

When we finally arrived at the Clarens Country House — damn fine accommodation I might add — on Saturday afternoon, I had been able to get my fuel consumption down to 5.3l/100km without much effort. Yes, squeezing 377km from half a tank — 20 litres — is not to be scoffed at, especially when you consider that the petrol price just went up by another 17c per litre.

Even on the trip home to Johannesburg, fighting against the escarpment, the little Honda didn’t go above 5.4l/100km. This meant that I completed the entire journey on a single tank of gas. Indeed, with a bit of right-foot discipline, the CR-Z can be an incredibly efficient piece of machinery.

But at the same time it’s great fun. Free (hopefully) from the prying digital eyes of the Fun Police, I tapped into Sport Mode and enjoyed some of the twistier sections of tarmac that the eastern Free State has on offer. And in doing so I was again reminded just how sharp this Honda is when it’s not trying to save Mr Polar Bear and the rest of his endangered friends.

From the razor-edged throttle response, communicative steering and amazingly crisp gearbox you can tell Honda set this car up to please keen drivers. Again, I just wish there was a tad more power on tap to do these attributes — and that chassis — more justice.

Other than that, the CR-Z turned out to be the perfect weekend sweeper vehicle. And because neither of the Porsches broke down, which meant I didn’t have to perch a parent on the rear seat, I had more than enough space to stow all my luggage, plus two cases of Clarens Brewery Weiss Beer. Which, and at complete odds to my frugal long-termer, was soon sucked away with all the ferocity of an American V8 muscle car.

The Fatcs: Honda CR-Z

Arrived: 20 May 2013

Odometer then: 200km

Odometer now: 6994km

Current Fuel Consumption: 6.7l/100km

What I’m liking: A disciplined right foot returns real long-distance efficiency

What I’m not: At times I’m still wishing for more power.

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