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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Honda’s Supercharged CR-Z Is so Good, It’s Almost Unbelievable: Quick Drive


Honda CR-Z Supercharged 4

The sun, the surf, the ridiculous housing market—as far as Southern California goes, it doesn’t get much prettier than San Diego. That’s why Honda, being Honda, decided it’d be the perfect location for us to test out their new and improved Accord. Except you’re not reading about the Accord just yet, which you should have gathered from the title. There’s an even more important matter at hand.
After getting our wheel time in the new Accord, Honda laid out a full buffet of products from the HR-V all the way to the Odyssey. One of those tasty treats was the Honda Performance Development (HPD) CR-Z. It’s a supercharged, hardcore version of their infamous CR-Z hybrid coupe. We got a chance to drive it, and even in just a short amount of time behind the wheel, it was immediately clear that this car was something special.

Understandably, that’s probably pretty hard to believe. When the CR-Z hit the market in 2010 as somewhat of a spiritual successoto the CRX, the hybrid drivetrain and measly 140 horsepower didn’t do much to sway enthusiasts back to the brand. It wasn’t composed, and the CVT transmission isn’t as advanced as it is now. The car, as a whole, just wasn’t something that would sway loyal hot hatch buyers. It wasn’t even very good on gas either.

Honda CR-Z Supercharged 5

But last year, some wonderful, fun-loving people at Honda thought, “How can we make this car better?” And the solution to their CR-Z problem came in the form of an HPD supercharger kit, and eventually the fully suited-up car you see here.

Starting from the engine out, the standard inline-4 hybrid gets a supercharger that ups power from a measly 140 to a respectable 197. That’s directly in hot hatchback territory, if you hadn’t already noticed. The idea, obviously, was that more power would make even the blasé CR-Z less so. But the modifications don’t just stop at the engine.

Honda Performance Development (HPD) went ahead and added a sportier suspension (which drops the car by 10mm), new brakes, a limited slip differential, 18-inch wheels, dual sport exhaust, and a few enhancements that make it even easier on the eye. Just tacking on a supercharger wasn’t enough, the whole car needed to be more hardcore, and more driver-centric than ever.

Honda CR-Z Supercharged 2

After a major plastic surgery and some new guts, finally, this CR-Z is something that enthusiasts have always wanted. The power is palpable, and while a 0-60 mph time of around 7.5 seconds may not sound like much, that’s comparable to an equally fun car in the Scion FR-S (as is the curb weight at 2,700 lbs).

With front-wheel drive and a bulky battery in the back, there’s a few traces of the base CR-Z still lingering. There’s a healthy amount of torque steer too. But around the corners, it feels beyond composed; the stiffer suspension and chunkier tires let you toss it around haphazardly while simultaneously instilling confidence. And as with any Honda, the six-speed manual gearbox is perfection in every sense of the word.

Honda has assured me that the supercharger kit option will carry over into the next generation refresh, which we should see towards the end of the year. Unfortunately for buyers, Honda likely won’t offer a supercharged CR-Z that you can pick up straight from the dealer—you have to buy the CR-Z first and then install the supercharger later, which seems like an oversight.

But in the realest sense, if you’re willing to go through the hassle, this supercharged CR-Z with HPD enhancements might be hottest hot hatch around. It defies logic with how wonderfully fun it is, and we were completely smitten from start to finish.

Honda CR-Z Supercharged 6


Engine: Supercharged Inline-4 Hybrid
Horsepower: 197
0-60: 7.5 Seconds (est.)
Price: $20,145 + $5,000 supercharger/installation