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Honda Shows Supercharged CR-Z

Will the not-so-hot hatch finally get the performance buyers have demanded?

by on Oct.31, 2012

Honda offers some hope to those who want real performance from the little CR-Z.

Honda fans attending this week’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas are in for a treat as the maker pulls the wraps of a series of concept vehicles that includes a supercharged version of the not-so-hot hatch CR-Z.

Though the Japanese maker insists the show car is simply an “exploration of the performance potential of the CR-Z Sport Hybrid,” Honda officials have sent broad signals that they’re looking for ways to punch up the performance of the much-maligned 3-door.  And the SEMA Show has become a test ground for numerous makers to measure whether concepts will click with performance-oriented buyers.

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Formally named the HPD Supercharged CR-Z Concept, it’s the work of the Honda Performance Division – which has a number of other show cars making their debut in Sin City this week, including the Accord Sedan X-Package and the Acura ILX Performance Racer.

But the big buzz surrounds the Supercharged CR-Z Concept.  The hatch was billed as an environmentally friendly replacement for the long-popular Honda CR-X, a favorite among the rice rocket crowd. Unfortunately, the current production model may be green but it’s not very mean.

Its 1.5-liter inline-four and electric drive system together make an anemic 128 horsepower and 122 lb-ft of torque.

Honda revealed an updated CR-Z at the Paris Motor Show, last month, that boosts the numbers to a slightly better 137 hp and 140 lb-ft – and adds an electric supercharger mode that is activated by a touch of the new “S+” button on the steering wheel.  Similar to the HY-KERS system in use on Formula One cars it kicks in 10 seconds of boost – if the battery has a minimum 50% charge.

The Honda HPD Supercharged CR-Z Concept adds a more conventional supercharger, an intercooler, high-flow fuel injectors and a retuned electronic engine control system to draw out a more serious 185 hp and 169 lb-ft.

HPD also comes to the SEMA party with an upgrade suspension and performance-tuned wheels, tires and brakes.

Considering the steady drumbeat for more muscle, the poor market response to the current CR-Z – and comments recently made by senior Honda executives – one might expect to see the maker do something to pump some real life into the hatchback.  The real question is when.  Perhaps the SEMA Show display is hinting, “soon”?

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