1995 Honda CRX ESi 1.6 from UK and Ireland
The original back to the future car
I was smitten by the original CRX back in the eighties, which in its time was quite an original concept - a small affordable 2+2 sports coupe, of which Ford and Vauxhall took another decade to catch on with their Puma and rather humble Tigra offerings.
So back in the early 90's, just when I could finally afford the CRX, Honda decided to remove the rear seats and cut the roof off!! I remember the press comments well at the time "bit of a noddy car", "toy town looks" to name some, but after testing the car for real, I knew Honda had got it right. So as a young, free and single chap, I opted for a Milano Red ESi, and what a car it was, but before long I was no longer YFS, and with kids on the way, the car had to go.
So now more than a decade on, I wanted another small sports car, and a convertible if possible. Honda dropped the CRX in 1997, but the car was still very much in my affection. So having scoured the ads for many months, I am now once again acquainted with another CRX; this time with the Thunderbird style electric roof - move over Mercedes and Peugeot, Honda beat you by over ten years.
Testimony to Honda's engineering; my 9 year old example drives just like my new car did over ten years ago.
The car still looks like a new model in fact. The bumper lines are tight and flush to the wings for example, something BMW haven't even achieved on the 3 series yet.
I am 6'4" in height, but there is plenty of space for me in the driving position, you sit low to the ground, but I have no difficulty getting in or out, and my wife, who is 5'2", is also able to find an excellent driving position too.
The handling of the car is excellent. Yes, there is a bit of scuttle shake, which is more noticeable with the roof off, but this doesn't hinder turn in or grip, which is very good indeed. You have to really push hard to lose grip, and on public roads that would be a bit reckless.
The electric roof is a hoot. To see people's faces when you press the button, and the boot lid raises as if James Bond is about to fire some missiles on his enemies, is a blast. The mechanicals of the roof motors do rob some space from the boot compared to the manual roof version, but is still large enough for weekend luggage or a set of golf clubs.
I have owned the manual roof version earlier; there are pros and cons to each. I would imagine the manual roof being a little tricky to remove for a single person of slight stature and build, but it could be argued that the operation to remove the roof and store in the boot can be done twice as quick manually, but with the electric roof, you don't move from your seat, so who cares.
Gear changes on the car are done with a flick of the wrist, and as the dash has a raised center console like many rear wheel drive sports cars (the CRX is FWD) you seem to never move your hand from the stick, so stirring the VTEC engine is not as much of a chore as some people would have you believe.
Once the youth / Max Power guys and gals have removed this car from their wish list, this car is destined to be a future classic. The name CRX already is, and I'm sure even if Honda rebadged a Sinclair C5 with a CRX badge, it would sell in big numbers!!
You could argue that the principle of the CRX has been reincarnated in the Lotus Elise and VX220, albeit with the benefit of going on the Atkins Diet, both of which I admire a lot. It's a shame then that these euro designs can only accommodate a typical Japanese person ie. 5'8" max, yet the Japanese design accommodates 6 footers with ease. I guess there are no tall chappies at Lotus!!
I have not listed any faults or problems with my car, as genuinely there aren't any; no rust, no oil leaks, no paint defects, just 100% driving pleasure.
My weekday car is a modern turbo diesel saloon, which is probably faster in a straight line than the CRX, and certainly has more grunt and is almost twice as economical, but this car in no way stirs the soul like my 10 year old "banger" can, and never will.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th June, 2004
4th Feb 2005, 15:42
I also have a much-loved Honda CRX (1992). It has the manual roof which is getting heavier as I get older, but it is a knack removing it and I like the big boot.
As it is my day-to-day car I use it throughout the year and the only fault I can find with this super little car is with the poor dipped lights. In the dark winter evenings I am continually dazzled as the four wheel drives bear down on me, lights blazing. I am just relieved that our nights are drawing out again.
Apart from that I cannot fault my car. It is fun and I am very impressed by the excellent Honda engineering.
11th Jun 2005, 08:56
I have been a CRX owner for around a month now with a 1995 ESI auto.
The car is a dream to drive and more comfortable than our main family car, a Honda Stream. I have already taken it +1,500 miles, and my only issue has been getting stuck on the M25 in the blazing sun with the roof off - with the roof in the boot there was no escape! I now have some sun cream in the glove compartment at all times!!
I agree it's a great car and a lot of fun.