So here it is: the Honda CR-Z Mugen complete with supercharged engine.
It is impressively quick work from Mugen Euro, because it is only a couple of weeks since we drove the car without its extra power but with all the chassis and body modifications.
To recap, that means carbon fibre bonnet and doors, 18mm wider front track, trick Showa dampers with five compression damping settings, Mugen’s 17in forged alloy wheels and Yokohama Advan A048 tyres. And a set of three extra gauges on a binnacle on top of the dashboard.
Mugen was aiming to equal the Civic Type R’s performance and it certainly feels as though that’s the case. This CR-Z is as quick as it looks. There’s no extra power from the electric motor. The performance comes from supercharging the engine, which now produces 197bhp instead of the standard car’s 122bhp.
It’s a novelty to drive a quick Honda that has strong torque (thanks to the hybrid IMA system) from as low as 1000rpm. Plenty of midnight oil has been burnt over the task of integrating the IMA system’s electronics with the now substantially more powerful combustion engine. Clever stuff.
What’s needed now is a similar level of graft on the chassis. The steering needs to be the first port of call. There’s an absurd amount of self-centring – so much so that you need to be careful not to let the wheel slip through your fingers as you pull out of junctions or you’ll end up on the wrong side of the road. Unsurprisingly, this trait doesn’t do a lot for cornering feel.
Next job on the list is to do some further work on the chassis. With the extremely sticky Yokohamas and a wider track, there’s no shortage of grip. What’s lacking is responsiveness; Mugen’s chassis crew need to spend some quality time with a Clio 200 Cup to see that handling is not just down to outright grip.
The flawed chassis and steering would be easy to put right. After all, we’ve been fiddling with dampers, springs and geometry almost since the birth of the car.