Not so long ago the idea of a hybrid powertrain in a sports car was akin to heresy to enthusiasts. But after last year’s Formula 1 season, the debut of cars like the Tesla Roadster and Audi’s series of all-electric e-tron concepts, as well as the wider acceptance of hybrids in general by the buying public, it’s not so unimaginable anymore.
Destined to be one of the first hybrid vehicles to be adopted by the mainstream performance community, the upcoming 2011 Honda CR-Z is also one of the first hybrid cars to be tuned by an automaker’s official performance arm. In the case of the CR-Z, it is Mugen that has worked over the car.
Some of the parts on offer include a new bodykit, a roof-mounted spoiler, a custom grille with LED highlights, and several carbon-fibre accessories and lightweight alloy-wheel designs. There are also some genuine performance modifications such as a sports cat-back exhaust, stiffer springs and shocks and uprated brakes. The modifications continue inside the cabin, with pieces such as an aluminum gearshift knob, a revised instrument clusters and Mugen floor-mats.
The idea of a performance hybrid may seem a bit of a contradiction to some but as Hiroki Toyoda, Mugen’s European chief, previously pointed out, the electric motor in a hybrid powertrain could act like a low-pressure turbo by boosting performance at low engine speeds.