I can let you know with 100% certainly that this would be the only Honda CR-Z that I would ever consider buying, and even it is a long shot as it may not come to North America. I even have no problem saying it a straight face because right from the CR-Z’s inception the design team was conflicted with what it should be. On one side of the room you had the old school engineers who were around in during the hay day of the now legendary CRX and wanted to recreate an updated version of the original funny zippy sports compact. The engineers standing on the other side of the room had a different idea; they envisioned the ultimate two seat hybrid commuter car that would sip fuel like it was ice wine and allow the driver to cover great distances between fill ups.
Unfortunately unlike the Honda CRX, the CR-Z fell short in both of its objectives and the reason was simple. The two opposing camps decided to take the easy way out during the design phase of the project and just compromised on all of their mission statements. I have always gotten the impression that no one carse for the CR-Z and in this case no one would fight for it, because it has always had so much potential to be great. The driving enthusiast camp allowed the eco boys to put on a smaller diameter fuel millage plus tires. And the eco minded engineers allowed for a design that bloat the cars drag coefficient (its effectiveness to cut through the air) to make it look more sporty and aggressive.
What they ended up with was a car that wasn’t particularly good when taking it out to a track and wasn’t particularly good at saving you much money at the fuel pumps as you were driving to and from the Track. The CR-Z is a car with no identity!
This is where Mugen Motorsports enters the picture and forces the car to live up to its potential. If you are not familiar with Mugen just think of them as being Hondas version of Mopar, Nizzmo, or Quattro. They are essentially and engine tuner and parts manufacturer that is associated only with Honda and could be considered Honda’s tuning arm of the company.
Mugen has managed to stay true to the original CRX which as we all know was a real pocket rocket. In order to live up to that reputation they knew that they had to improve the power to weight ratio of the CR-Z. In 1983 crash safety standards were not quite what they are today so the CRX was light and I mean really light. The new CR-Z would never be able to lose enough weight/safety equipment to allow its 1.5-liter I-4 to do the same job of the CRX’s 1.5 or 1.6-liter inline 4’s. Mugen got around this lack of displacement by bolting on a supercharger which increases the engines output from 112 hp to 184 hp. You then combine those figures with the extra 13 horsepower of the electric assist motor and your now topping out at 197 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. That’s almost doubling the total power of the stock CR-Z which tops out at a lethargic 125hp and 165 lb-ft.
Other improvements include a new air intake and exhaust piping to improve airflow, as well as a carbon fiber hood and lightweight Mugen styled wheels. These improvements apparently allow the car to accelerate form 0-100 in the mid 6 second range which is impressive as that is the same range as their tuned Mugen Civic Type R (which is SI here in North America).
Any way you slice it the CR-Z has become a much more desirable car as Mugen has looked to the CRX for inspiration and charted a new path of evolution for the CR-Z. Fortunately for us that evolution included the growth of a supercharger, changing the car into a performance minded beast. Now if only that cloths drying rack would get off its back it could be a Honda I’d consider buying. 🙂
The Honda Pocket Rocket is back and I for one would like to sign up for a test drive.