When it first went on sale the Honda CR-Z became an overnight success in Japan, selling out immediately and for months after launch the demand outweighed the supply. Such obviously wasn’t the case in America where the car was met with lukewarm reception. For the average American the concept of a sporty hybrid just didn’t seem to hit home. For the enthusiast there was one nagging repeated complaint—not enough power. And it’s for those power hungry naysayers that Mugen says look at the CR-Z again, and they say it with the RR.
If history teaches us anything, it’s that anytime Mugen puts their double-R badge on a vehicle you can rest assured that it is going to be mind-blowingly badass, not to mention pricey. The latest installment in the RR lineage was actually the brainchild of Mugen’s UK division and was originally displayed at England’s famous Goodwood Festival of Speed. The car boasted a huge boost in power thanks to a supercharger and matched the newfound power with a body kit taking cues directly from Super GT, all emblazoned with metallic orange paint.
While this was all well and good, all that enthusiasts really cared about was whether or not they could buy one, and at the time the CR-Z RR was still a concept vehicle—one which Mugen claimed was an exercise for its employees to explore new technologies. At that point it seemed that most of the tuning industry, myself included, figured that the CR-Z RR would go the way of its NSX RR cousin banished to the permanently extinct file. It wasn’t until Tokyo Auto Salon this year that our emotions once again become stirred at the sight of a second CR-Z RR dubbed the “Pre-Production Model.”
The green car on these very pages is the first example of what Mugen hope will become a popular road-going package. On the outside, surprisingly, most of the aggressive body kit remains with only a few minor changes, mostly to the rear bumper. The dry carbon front splitter, side splitters, rear diffuser and under panel all remain, as do the dry carbon hood, doors, tailgate and wing. The bespoke forged wheels and 4-pot calipers remain as well, in fact at a quick glance the only thing that seems to be missing from the original exterior are the rear flares.
In the cockpit the similarity between the two versions continues with matching carbon fiber trim pieces and color matched accent stitching and gauge lighting found on both models. Other more traditional Mugen items like their popular pedal kit and sport floor mats are also included in the package. The main difference between the original concept and the pre-production version are the seats which have changed from reupholstered factory versions on the orange car to custom Mugen edition Recaro carbon buckets which, according to Mugen, make for a more “comfortable driving environment.” Aside from that the only other noticeable change in the interior is that the shift knob has been switched from a color-matched aluminum unit to a carbon item with matching pin stripe.
Undoubtedly, the question left on everyone’s mind is what became of the supercharger? Fear not Mugen fiends, the boosted setup is here to stay and is accompanied by full dry carbon intake ducting, an intercooler and a sick center-exit exhaust system. If that’s not enough keep in mind that Mugen has also reduced the gearing for better acceleration and thrown in one of their top of the line mechanical limited-slip differentials. With power bumped up to 190hp with 209lb-ft of torque this certainly isn’t your average CR-Z and Mugen have proven this by shaving 5.8 seconds off the lap time of a standard CR-Z at Tsukuba Circuit.
So you’re chomping at the bit, but two questions still remain: will it be sold in the US, and for how much? At the time of writing Mugen are seriously considering bringing the CR-Z RR to the US market and offering it for sale as a completed vehicle with a full factory warranty. However, with the exchange rate and cost of high-end materials (keep in mind most of the car is now dry carbon) will likely bring the sticker into the realm of some fairly serious sports cars. Whether or not it will be able to compete in our market I cannot say, but I sure hope they bring at least a handful of examples over. Only time will tell.