The words “fun” and “sporty” are usually never really in the same sentence as the term “hybrid car,” however, those words could possibly be used if they were referring to a hybrid car with a manual transmission. While being able to drive a stick shift car is quickly becoming a lost art these days, for some people, it will truly be the only way any driver can get a real feeling for motoring on the open road. And while it might be hard to picture rowing your own gears in a hybrid car, or even needing to (considering automatics nowadays are more efficient, there are some hybrid cars from the past that actually did come with three pedals on the floor.
2000-2006 Honda Insight
The Honda Insight was officially the first hybrid car to come to the U.S. market as it officially beat the Toyota Prius by less than a year. It’s wind-cheating, ultra-efficient aerodynamics and diminutive size were the highlights at the time, not to mention its fuel-sipping hybrid powertrain that achieved up to 61 mpg. But what was most intriguing was the fact that the Insight it actually came standard with a five-speed manual transmission when it debuted.
As you can imagine, the manual transmission was geared more for fuel economy as opposed to performance considering it took over 10 seconds for the original Insight to get up to 60 mph. However, that didn’t stop the Honda Insight from being the engineering marvel and the original hybrid that we have come to appreciate.
2004 Honda Civic Hybrid
Believe it or not, the Honda Civic Hybrid from 2004 to 2005 was available with a five-speed manual transmission as well. Not only did it help with the auto start/stop system when it came to saving fuel, but it’s wide gear ratios helped the car achieve its stellar fuel economy ratings of 35 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. Again, it wasn’t exactly made for performance, however, one reviewer mentioned that it was actually pretty fun to drive despite its heavy C4 Corvette-like clutch feel.
2011-2016 Honda CR-Z
If you ever do happen to be in the market for a hybrid car with a manual transmission, then the Honda CR-Z would be the most recent one that you’ll likely find. The CR-Z was in production from 2011 to 2016 and it was available with either a CVT or a six-speed manual transmission. The difference between this car that last two that we mentioned, aside from its angular and futuristic aesthetics, was that it was actually geared to be a “sport hybrid” (Honda’s words, not ours).
And although it failed to appeal to the masses and car reviewers alike, we can honestly say (having driven one) that the Honda CR-Z was actually pretty fun to drive in manual form. No, it wasn’t S2000-like in the least bit, but its small size and athletic nature paired well with the semi-close gear ratios. It also helped that it achieved up to 37 mpg on the highway, which is not that great when it comes to hybrid standards, but good enough to skip a couple of gas stations on the way to work.
Will hybrid cars of the future have manual transmissions?
While we can see that a few hybrid cars from the past were indeed outfitted with a stick and three pedals, we don’t think that the past will likely repeat itself. Manual transmissions are unfortunately going the way of the dodo bird and driving a stick shift is indeed becoming a lost art. Either way, at least we know they once existed and that’s good enough.