Heavy Metal Affliction--Honda CRZ
In an age when fuel costs are soaring, the era of the hybrid is upon us. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing as hybrid technology has evolved from those first few mildly exciting and sometimes odd-looking cars. Most who buy a hybrid have no big plans aside from hyper-miling it. That’s OK for the masses but, for a car enthusiast, making a car your own and improving performance is mandatory. This is Heavy Metal Affliction, after all, that we’re talking about.
Today we meet our second Heavy Metal Affliction story out of Portugal: Màrio --Gamertag PaoComManteiga--from Barreiro. He is 25 and is currently studying Network and Operative Systems at the Volkswagen Academy. The Academy is some 60 miles away from Màrio’s home, and fuel costs in Portugal are outrageous. So a car that achieved great mileage was a must; Màrio chose the Honda CRZ Sport Hybrid.
Màrio has always been sick for cars; in fact, his parents told him his first spoken word was “car.” His path having been chosen early, he could not wait to get his driver’s license and first car. He grew up as many of us did, daydreaming of the time he would have the freedom to hop in his own ride and light out for anywhere the road took him. He longed for the simple pleasure of just driving, chilling to tunes, and watching the sites go by. Màrio has been playing Forza since Forza Motorsport 3. He even refers to himself as a Forza “fanboy,” picking up every DLC pack, pre-order offer, and collector’s edition as they become available.
As Màrio grew up, his best friend got his license a few months before him and they used to cruise his well-used and less-than-reliable LPG-powered Opel Vectra. When Màrio finally got his license he received his father’s old car, a 1995 Hyundai Accent. Màrio loved that car; it was reliable, despite its many miles. It wasn’t long before he took the Accent on his first road trip, one of Mario’s fondest memories. Màrio recalls, “I still remember the cool breeze against my face, and the noise of an old engine merging with the sweet tune of Mark Knopfler's guitar, creating the perfect environment.”
For five years the Hyundai was Màrio’s partner. A place to shoot the breeze with a buddy and eat peanuts, a sanctuary for midnight drives. For better or worse it was getting to be time to look forward to his first new car. Frugal and hard-working, Màrio had enough money to buy what he wanted. Honda would be his choice, but the taxes, fuel costs, and insurance for his top choice of the Civic-R or Integra-R just didn’t make sense. His father was driving a Civic hybrid, but it was just too boring. Much to Màrio’s surprise Honda invited him and his father to Estoril Race Track to test drive the new CRZ from Honda. He had read about the CRZ, but initially was not impressed. One day at the track changed his mind. The CRZ was faster than he expected, very light, and handled amazing. As if a slap in the face had just awoken him from a deep sleep, Màrio became enamored with the CRZ and drove from the track to the dealer and bought the sport version with the six-speed manual. Màrio’s CRZ was one of the first ten to be sold in Portugal.
Mario had to wait almost three months for his car to arrive. Part of the deal was that his Hyundai Accent would be destroyed. Much like the “Cash for Clunkers” program here in the U.S., the intent was to get older, higher-polluting cars off the road and provide incentives for prospective buyers of hybrid vehicles. Màrio had bonded with his Accent and felt bad about choosing its fate. As Màrio and the Accent prepared to part ways, he was contemplative. “They were already waiting me to leave the car at the dealership, I was parked outside, looking at the dashboard, I don't really know what I was doing there, I think somehow ‘we’ were both saying goodbye to each other. I decided to keep the original key, the old and rusty one, and left the spare key instead, I am not superstitious at all, but I still keep that key inside my CRZ, it's like my lucky charm, or maybe it's a way to deny that the car doesn't exist anymore.”
Out of the box, the CRZ impressed Màrio with its quick acceleration and handling. But as a true car enthusiast, he immediately personalized it with new wheels and tires and tossed the stock air filter for a higher flow K&N. He swapped out all the yellow bulbs for white bulbs and added some LED’s to the license plate to make it stand out even more. Recently he added a cat-back exhaust. He won’t stop there as he has plans to take this CRZ to a place most hybrids never go.
In the mountains, the car is a hoot to drive and will surprise other performance cars with its stickiness and torque. Even though overall top speed is not going to break any records, the car has an off-the-charts fun factor. Màrio and his girl hit the country roads most weekends and explore the countryside. Sometimes it’s the small villages, sometimes the mountains. He typically gets 60-plus miles per gallon and, depending on weather and driving conditions, the CRZ can achieve 70 miles per gallon.
To Màrio, all it takes is a tank of fuel, an open road with the sun fading away, and AC/DC or Deep Purple rocking his system and he is happy. As Màrio puts it, “I think every car lover out there should think this way: It's not a matter of how fast or slow your car is, nor how old or new, you should be proud of what you bought and/or built and if at the end of the day, you look at your car's keys and you smile like I smile every day, then you know you made the right choice.”
Here are some shots of the CRZ:
If you have a ride you are passionate about, share it with us in the request for community rides thread. We are always looking for future candidates for Heavy Metal Affliction.
If you would like to discuss PaoComMantiega’s CRZ. Do so in the HMA thread.