The MUGEN version of the CR-Z hybrid has been hyped extensively but only recently have pictures of this model been released. There also aren’t many details available about it yet since this project is ongoing. So far, the first tests have been very promising when it comes to the performance and fuel consumption.
Tests made earlier on a prototype car based on a standard CR-Z and given a mid-tune engine show that it can have an acceleration time from zero to 60mph (0-98 km/h) that’s comparable to the Civic Type R due partly to supercharging.
This means that it has a sprint time that’s somewhere in the mid six-second range. MUGEN said that this was achieved by adding 15% more power to the engine compared to the ‘stage 1’ level of tune. Even with the big wing attached to its back, the car is lighter by about 50 kilograms (110 lbs).
Colin Whittamore from MUGEN Euro said that the early tests on fuel consumption have been “encouraging” as well. He said that the company has kept the three driving modes from the standard car. Upon turning on the supercharged power in a special 'MUGEN' mode," it boasts an economy that ranges from 50+mpg in 'eco' mode to mid-30 mpg.
The Honda CR-Z has been vastly tuned up by Mugen Euro, improving the hybrid’s powertrain to produce 200 PS and 215 Nm torque.
The objective of this project was to show that a thrilling driving experience is also possible with a hybrid car, especially if a Civic Type-R-like performance can be approximated, while staying true to the original Honda CR-Z philosophy.
Mugen Euro’s Collin Whittamore says they aimed to produce a car capable of high performance at a button’s touch but can revert to standard CR-Z performance with fuel efficiency whenever wanted. To achieve this, three driving modes were made available. The ‘normal’ or ‘eco’ are for regular driving as these are fuel-saving, low-emission modes. Then, there is a Mugen button if “full-blown weekend warrior settings” are desired.
This version of the Honda CR-Z still uses the standard version’s Honda IMA electric motor. However, the original 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine has been modified to Mugen’s settings with strengthened and upgraded custom components.
Whittamore says that initially, when they thought about how they should use the Honda IMA system, they quickly just decided to “utilise it and build on it.”
A new centrifugal forced-induction boosts the Honda CR-Z Mugen’s petrol-electric drive train to produce 50 percent greater power and torque. This is the Mugen iCF system or Integrated Centrifugal Forced-induction. It synchronises all the components of the electro-mechanical system so that the forced induction system, petrol engine and IMA motor all run harmoniously.
Whittamore further explains that their theory was to build upon the early torque produced by the Honda IMA electric motor by progressively making more torque available from the petrol engine. Mugen designed the iCF and improved the electronics to make the IMA and the additional power and torque of the engine work seamlessly together to provide a smoother, more synchronised and more dynamic driving experience.
Whittamore admits that everyone in Mugen who has tried their version of the CR-Z ended up delighted because it is exactly how they envisioned it to be. Furthermore, it can also be driven the same way as the standard CR-Z.
In terms of looks, the Honda CR-Z Mugen was designed as subtly and aesthetically distinct from the standard CR-Z. Mugen is known for making custom parts that conform to the fitment and quality standards of the original manufacturer. As such, their objective was to show how their high-quality parts can be perfectly incorporated into the original CR-Z style to enhance its identity.
Among Mugen’s notable modifications are its front and rear spoilers, 17-inch lightweight forged alloy Mugen GP wheels, side skirts and a rear wing. The bonnet and doors were replaced with lightweight carbon fibre versions that also make the vehicle look sportier. Finally, there is the head-turning orange metallic paint finish.
The car’s sporty look is also evident in its interior, starting with the lightweight Recaro sport seats and Mugen’s carbon rear view mirror cover and weighted gear knobs. New assist meters indicate and record water and oil temperatures and oil pressure in a more detailed manner than OEM meters, in order to easily inform the driver of any gradual or sudden fluctuation, especially in difficult road conditions. They also serve to alert the driver of any reading outside the customisable pre-set value limits.
How is power increased?
The power advantage is achieved because Mugen used the torque produced by the electric motor at low RPM and added on to it. This was done by using a supercharger to induce torque after the electric motor’s peak torque has been attained. A more sustained and constant torque curve is thus produced. Consequently, more torque is usable through the entire rev range.
The electric motor produced less than 20 PS of the total power, but it contributes this very early on and achieves maximum torque between 1,000 and 1,500 RPM. In the standard CR-Z, this would mean peak torque is seen before 25 percent of the engine range. However, the Mugen iCF ensures that performance is maintained. The ‘stage 1’ engine power/torque graph reflects this.
A prototype car which was basically a standard CR-Z with a mid-tune engine was initially tested to accelerate from 0-62 mph in roughly 6.6 seconds. This is similar to the official time of the Civic Type R. Mugen is confident that their original Type R targets can be met because of the upcoming 15 percent power increase over this ‘stage 1’ engine, as well as the chassis weight reduction of roughly 50kg.
Difference between Honda CR-Z Mugen and standard Honda CR-Z
One of the main differences made by Mugen was in the engine, which they modified greatly to improve durability and reliability under increased loads. Supercharged forced induction was also added to produce greater power and a torque curve that ascends more constantly.
Apart from the engine modifications, Mugen improved the chassis dynamics based on their vast experience in motorsport and Honda tuning. Front and rear 5-step adjustable dampers were added and the track was widened. The chassis weight was made lighter to improve handling and acceleration/deceleration. There is also a new sports exhaust for better engine breathing.
Stability has also been improved. An upgraded suspension system enhances body roll control. New 17-inch lightweight forged alloy Mugen GP wheels permit larger tyres to be fitted without any additional unsprung mass. This results in more traction and responsiveness. It also takes full advantage of the new limited slip differential. Brake discs have been enlarged and the 4-pot monobloc callipers safely help stop this vehicle.
A Mugen body kit has also been fitted to optimise performance with the increased power. This consists of the front grille, fender under skirts, side skirts, the rear wing and the carbon fibre bonnet and doors. Altogether, these make the Honda CR-Z Mugen look as aggressive as it is powerful.