Honda CR-Z Mugen concept

Honda CR-Z Mugen concept

The Honda CR-Z currently has a sole powertrain option, a finicky hybrid system consisting of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to the automaker’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA). The setup is good for 122 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 128 pound-feet of torque from 1,000-1,500 rpm, figures hardly worth mentioning.

And if you were thinking the car has stellar fuel economy because it’s a hybrid, think again. The CR-Z returns 36/38 mpg city/highway for the CVT-equipped model and 31/37 for the manual-equipped version--numbers that numerous small cars can match these days.

Not surprisingly, there are reports claiming Honda is looking at expanding the appeal of its CR-Z by launching a new gas-only turbocharged model. A new engine is reportedly being developed at the automaker’ Tochigi R&D center in Japan and could be in production as early as the end of next year.

The unit is said to be a 1.6-liter four-cylinder unit, which thanks to turbocharging technology, has the pulling power of a 2.0-liter mill. There’s expected to be two different versions: a standard version with 160 horsepower on tap and a high-performance unit with 200 horsepower. This latter unit will likely be reserved for a new CR-Z Type R model.

Interestingly, at last month’s SEMA show, Honda showed off a turbocharged concept version of the regular CR-Z hybrid hatch that was developed by its official in-house tuner Mugen.