Sporty hybrids get the MUGEN treatment

Last October, I was lucky enough to test Honda’s sporty hybrid car, the CR-Z. It was a great car – plenty of fun, quick, and still fuel efficient. It’s the only car I’ve tested that I actually miss! Well, now MUGEN Euro is developing a highly-tuned version of Honda’s CR-Z, which will deliver “Type R-like” performance from the hybrid’s petrol-electric powertrain – and may offer even better fuel economy.

This faster, more powerful version will debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.

The CR-Z MUGEN will feature enhancements to both the 1.5-litre petrol engine and the Honda IMA system to boost power and torque, while custom brakes and suspension will be fitted to improve handling. MUGEN say that the engine changes, and those made to exhaust and induction, may even result in greater mpg and lower CO2 emissions during some conditions. Whether this turns out to be the case, and what the exact conditions that produce that effect are, remains to be seen.

The CR-Z already looks pretty sporty, but MUGEN body parts will be added, including front and rear bumpers, and a spoiler to add to the effect.

“We wanted to extend the performance of the CR-Z,” says Hiro Toyoda of MUGEN Euro. “It is already a fun car to drive, with an excellent chassis, but we thought that with more power and enhanced torque delivery it could be even more exciting. However, as with all MUGEN projects, we have stayed true to the Honda design and philosophy, and the electric motor is still a vital ingredient to boost performance and economy.”

“This will be one quick hybrid,” says Martin Moll, Head of Marketing for Honda (UK). “With more torque, more power and MUGEN’s experience of working with Honda cars, we’re expecting great things. It promises to show how hybrid cars can be even more exciting to drive.”

The only downside to all this is that the CR-Z MUGEN is being developed purely as a one-off prototype, with no plans for a production version. I was really impressed with the speed and handling of the standard CR-Z, and think the MUGEN version really will be something special. If you are going to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July you can see it in action, along with an exhibition of several Honda racing vehicles and special guests.

Tickets for the Festival can be bought from the Goodwood website.

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  1. I think this is a good way to go. By building hybrids that appeal to petrol heads, it will help move them along the road to mainstream acceptability.

    And the combo of an internal combustion engine with an electric motor is fantastic, with the electric motor developing instant full torque at zero RPM.

    • Absolutely, Mike. There’s no reason hybrids can’t be about fun and performance as well as fuel efficiency. I loved the CR-Z’s manual gearbox, and the fact it was really responsive on country roads.

      Shame the MUGEN version is going to be a one-off. It would be great to see it going into wider production.

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