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Forbidden Fruit: Honda CR-Z Mugen RZ


Ever since Honda launched its CR-Z “Sports Hybrid,” fans of the car and of the brand have wished for one thing: more power. Even in early 2011, less than a year after the car’s launch, there was talk about a new, more powerful version in the works.

That car made its debut at this year’s Paris Auto Show, but the numbers are still far from impressive: while the combined output of the original CR-Z’s gasoline engine and electric motor was just 122 horsepower, the new car only gets an additional 13 horsepower.

We’re not sure if that counts the Sport Plus (S+) boost system, which delivers up to 10 seconds of increased electric power to the motor when a steering wheel button is pushed. The system only functions when the batteries are above 50-percent charge, meaning that you won’t be running from stoplight to stoplight using S+.

Even with the uprated horsepower, the new CR-Z still takes some nine seconds to get from 0-60 mph when equipped with the CVT, although manual transmission cars are a  hair quicker. For a car with any kind of sporting intentions, that’s hardly impressive.

Enter the Honda CR-Z Mugen RZ, the latest turnkey creation from the tuning geniuses at Mugen. Starting with a Honda-delivered CR-Z, Mugen will add a supercharger to boost output from the 1.5-liter four-cylinder to 154 horsepower, which works in conjunction with the 20 supplemental horsepower from the electric motor.

Mugen hasn’t released performance figures on the car, but we’re sure a combined output of 174 horsepower helps quite a bit with acceleration. We suspect that the car carries a very conservative tune, and considerably more horsepower is available with added boost (likely at the expense of warranty coverage).

Ensuring that the car’s cornering capability is enhanced, too, Mugen adds an adjustable suspension, forged 17-inch wheels with high-performance tires and larger front brakes, although the rear binders remain Honda-issued.

Outside, the Mugen RZ gets a new front grille, an adjustable front spoiler, side skirts, a rear diffuser and an impossible-to-miss oversized rear wing. There’s only one color choice available, a striking shade of blue that Mugen calls Azure Blue Matellic.

Buyers also get interior upgrades including body-color seats, a Mugen steering wheel with blue stitching, a carbon fiber shift knob, a boost gauge and a serial number plate listing the car as one of only 300 built.

As with other turnkey Mugen products, the Honda CR-Z Mugen RZ is available in Japan only, at a price of 4,494,000 yen (roughly $57,454).
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