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Honda CRX Del Sol (1992 - 1998)

Last updated 17 May 2018

 
3
Entertaining two-seat convertible. The 158bhp 1.6 VTEC engine is a screamer.
Running costs can mount up. Can be heavy on brake discs and pads.
Updated 11 May 1992

In 1992 the CRX became a two seater convertible 13' 2" long by 5' 7" wide rather than a 2+2 coupe. There was a 123bhp 1.6 with 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic gearboxes, or a hot 158bhp 1.6 VTi VTEC...

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Introduction

If ever there’s a reason never to listen to research when designing a car, the Mk3 CRX is it. What started as a plan to create a junior NSX – a pocket rocket to obliterate rivals like the Toyota MR2 – ended up as a slightly bloated targa-top that few people wanted and fewer bought.

Rather than take on the competition, Honda opted to fill a gap in the market that wasn’t really there. Launched in 1992, the Honda CRX Del Sol was the replacement to the hugely popular previous generation CRX.

And, as with its predecessor, it was based on the Civic platform. The key difference, of course, was hinted at in the name – Del Sol (or ‘of the sun’) referred to the car’s targa top. And, credit where credit’s due, this was something new – a world first.

The Transtop system was an all electric and fully automatic targa top that, when combined with a rear window that dropped into the bulkhead, offered five stages of protection from the elements. It was the demand for space from this new system that lead to the controversial styling changes… and a few performance ones, too.

The Del Sol took nearly eight seconds to make the sprint to 60mph, which actually made it slower than the Civic on which it was based. The engine now revved to 7100rpm, which many felt just made it too much like hard work to find the power. The new car was also more softly sprung but just about managed to retain the responsiveness of its predecessors.

But while it might not be as sharply styled or as fun to drive as earlier version of the CRX, the Del Sol has found a strong following for those who don't want a full-on convertible and find the Mazda MX-5 a bit too hairy chested. Imagine what they'd thought of a baby NSX...

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