Bisi Ezerioha needs no introduction. His track record speaks for itself. He’s world-renowned for having the most powerful naturally-aspirated single cam Hondas, holding records in the import drag racing world in his Honda Insight, and has even ventured out from the Honda community to make his mark in the Porsche tuning world. It really wouldn’t be hard-pressed to deem him as one of the most innovative Honda builders of his and our generation. You last saw him on the pages of Super Street when we brought you his mind-blowing, 700-plus horsepower turbocharged Honda Civic Wagon and unless you’ve been living under that proverbial “rock”, you already know about his latest creation: a boosted, fully-operational, hybrid Honda CR-Z.
The Bisimoto CR-Z first made its debut at the 2010 SEMA Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, and blew the collective minds of every automotive enthusiast at the show—whether they were Honda fans or not. This came as no real surprise to those who were close to Bisi; the reaction from the automotive community was almost expected. Even Honda knew that this project would be a shining success when they first agreed to provide him with a CR-Z to make his own. They needed someone to give their “sports hybrid” campaign some instant momentum and Bisi was the perfect man for the job. What instantly jumps out to the casual enthusiast are the numbers (533hp) and the massive Bisimoto Turbonetics BTX6465X turbine. It’s easy to look past everything else, even the massive front-mount intercooler, which some ignorant, uninformed folk on the internet believe to be either a billet grille or giant radiator. At a glance, that’s what people want to see. They want instant gratification in the form of horsepower numbers and aesthetics. When you really put some effort into seeing what this build is all about, is when you will truly fall in love with this CR-Z. What you need to know is that this isn’t just a CR-Z shell with a motor swap/turbo combo. It’s a completely operational hybrid automobile; meaning that this CR-Z is still indeed a hybrid that maintains all of its original functions from the factory. It just so happens it makes gobs of power, looks incredibly menacing and has a chute coming out of the rear-end. The modifications are just the appetizer so to speak, the main course is that it’s still “green”. It’s the epitome of what Honda wants the CR-Z to be known as: a “sports hybrid”. Bisi not only opened the doors to the CR-Z’s possibilities—he created it.
“When Honda approached me with the opportunity to build a Honda CR-Z in the signature Bisimoto-style, I was more than happy to accept,” Bisi says. “What I wanted to do was enhance the entire sports hybrid concept. My mission goal was to put together a vehicle that was not only eco-conscious, but also maintain excellent drivability while also making great power, or more importantly, reliable power that Bisimoto Engineering has become known for. The challenging part of this build was that Honda wanted to retain full functionality of its IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system. There was no information available to us at that time so there were some concerns at the onset of the build. Being an engineer by trade, I was excited to take on the challenge and transform the CR-Z and I think Bisimoto Engineering executed it with great success.”
The first major hurdle that Bisi faced was not an electrical one, but a mechanical issue. Getting the IMA system to work seamlessly with the planned turbo set-up was all in the works but on the mechanical side, he had to figure out how to physically get the stock LEA1 motor out of the bay. This was all-new technology at the time, and removing the engine was not your typical job where just a simple unbolting of some components was all he had to do. The engine itself acted as a giant magnet and without the proper tool, which was only available through Honda, he could have easily lost a finger, some limbs or possibly even his life. Bisi himself admitted that there were some sketchy moments early on when even he was a little worried. He also warns that as this chassis gets more popular over time and more people begin to modify them, the risk of injury is very high if the proper precautionary measures aren’t taken.
Once the 1.5L hybrid engine was out of the car, Bisi was able to break the motor down and develop a game plan for the rest of the build. Integrating the IMA system into the vehicle required careful thought. He wanted to produce power, but only in such a way where the Integrated Motor Assist was still an asset and not a hindrance on performance. “When you think about it, 533 horsepower is a nice solid chunk of power, but how can you produce those numbers while still keeping the CR-Z eco-friendly and with the IMA system operational?” Bisi asks. “It’s all in the sizing of the Turbonetics turbo. I didn’t want to utilize too big of a turbo because then the powerband would be rendered useless. I also couldn’t use too small of a turbo because then it would spool up too quickly and consume too much fuel, thereby eliminating the eco-friendly nature of the car. The BTX6465X turbine and housing is sized with such great precision that the CR-Z still cruises down the street with the same economy as a stock, naturally-aspirated CR-Z and also has power readily available as you get into the higher RPM range. The IMA system also enhances both the lower and higher RPM ranges, just like a factory CR-Z. It really encompasses everything you would want in a sport hybrid driving experience.”