Regular readers will already know that I'm not a huge fan of the CR-Z. Despite protestations from Honda that it wasn't a CRX replacement, the name choice, configuration, even the split rear window all invoked memories of Honda's timeless CRX and the CR-Z, by design (focused more on economy than performance), didn't live up to the CRX legend as several comparison tests showed.
But time marches on, and the aftermarket never sleeps. And thanks to the huge number of suppliers for aftermarket Honda parts, useful improvements for the CR-Z began to find their way into enthusiast hands. Hondata's FlashPro allowed customized tuning of the ECU (a first for a hybrid car as far as we know), and intake, exhaust and suspension modifications began to show up more frequently. Then, Oscar Jackson put together a Rotrex supercharger kit for the CR-Z that finally gave it enough power to be interesting for a substantially larger group of enthusiasts. You can read our review of that car here.
Unfortunately, the horsepower improvements offered by Jackson Racing exposed the other shortcomings of the CR-Z, namely its econocar suspension setup with a beam rear axle. Acceptable on smooth ground, on rough roads the increased speed provided by the supercharger made the CR-Z behave badly in corners. Which brings us to the HPD CR-Z.
The HPD car is the first in what this author hopes will be a long line of factory performance options. Most know HPD as the very successful purveyor of racing engines and parts for major series around the world including CART, Indycar, ALMS and more. Formerly a sub-brand of Honda Racing, HPD will now be taking on street performance and attempting to link up their track proven experience with streetable performance parts that still retain the Honda characteristics of reliability, durability, economy and fun.
That HPD has chosen the CR-Z as their first platform might seem unusual to some (it did to me initially), but it's also a challenge. If HPD can take a somewhat slow hybrid with inconsistent chassis behavior and transform it, then imagine what they can do with a more sophisticated Civic or Accord.