Since its conception, Honda has been trying to persuade us that its CR-Z isn't merely a woolly hybrid but is in fact a proper sports car. As if to prove the point, Honda has announced that Mugen-fettled versions of the hatch are to be released for the British market.
Recently making a splash in the UK with their banzai track-focused version of the Civic Type R, Mugen started in 1973 and specialise in building and tuning Hondas. Somewhat legendary in their home Japanese market, their cars and accessories are now officially imported into the UK through Torque Developments in Essex.
Rather than a standalone Mugen car, the firm is looking to offer a wide range of enhancements to the CR-Z. Externally, a full bodykit will be on offer, including deeper front and rear bumpers, a large rear wing and revised sills, as well as exclusive paint options. Lightweight alloys and a sports exhaust complete the look.
So the new Honda CR-Z Mugen is a speedy greeny?
When we drove the CR-Z in the May 2010 issue of CAR, we noted that although the steering and body control were excellent, the car lacked a bit of oomph. Sadly the Mugen performance enhancements are limited to a new air box and filter, providing a more boy-racerish soundtrack without a huge performance increase.
The anchors are uprated with new brake pads and discs; we noted that on the standard car the breaks were a bit over-sharp, so we're hoping that the Mugen versions improve the feel. Stiffer springs and dampers are also an option.
Will it sell?
The CR-Z will remain a left-field choice for most buyers; all out hybridphiles are likely to stick with the Insight or Prius, whilst hardcore hot hatchers will probably enjoy their Civic Type Rs et al. For those in the middle, however, the Mugen CR-Z has the potential to be at the forefront of a potentially growing niche of environmentally conscious performance chasers.