My first exposure to the HPD CR-Z didn't actually come at the test drive event. In fact, I've been fortunate enough to meet Philip LaPointe, the manager of HPD Street Performance group, on several occasions, including a visit to my dyno facility. So I've seen the evolution of this car and engine package over the course of a year or two. But when I pulled into the parking lot of the Honda Museum in Torrance, I had never seen the CR-Z like this.
Frankly, the bodykit, wheels/tires/brakes and the suspension changes absolutely transform the car. The shape of the CR-Z does lend itself to some pretty cool aftermarket developments, but to see Honda corporate, in the form of HPD, deliver on the promise of a show car is pretty cool in my opinion. You can see the pictures for yourself, but the car looks far more stunning in person (why is it Honda still has problems photographing their cars?). Even the decal package, something I normally loathe, actually looks ok on this car even if I still wouldn't put them on, just on principle alone.
In talking with LaPointe, he is proud of his team's accomplishments in improving on the CR-Z. He's a soft-spoken man, but intensely enthusiastic about his job. He also seems to be quite the realist. In our discussions he couldn't give us any hard pricing, but realizes that the dollars and cents of it all will make or break his efforts commercially. But I also got the impression that he's in this for the long haul, with the CR-Z as just a toe in the water before Honda commits full bore to more involvement in this arena. I can only hope that the execs won't look at low volume sales of a modified version of a low volume hybrid as evidence that this market isn't worth pursuing. But given Honda's history of self-fulfilling prophecies on the performance front, LaPointe has his work cut out for him.
So what exactly makes up the HPD CR-Z? In fact, it isn't one overarching package. You can pick and choose items to fit your taste and budget, so it's definitely different from some previous Honda offerings like the Mugen Civic Si. Naturally the biggest addition to the car is the Rotrex supercharger system. Running about 7-8 psi of boost, HPD claims 187 hp and 171 lbs-ft of torque. This is a slightly smaller supercharger (a C30-64) than what Jackson Racing uses, but due to difference in drive ratios, the results are pretty similar. From experience, these numbers are probably a bit underrated, but not by much. The blower also comes with bigger injectors, an intake and a recalibrated factory ECU. HPD's original testing used Hondata products to test proof of concept, but the production kit uses a Honda-sourced calibration. In talking with LaPointe at the test event, he was careful to stress that Honda maintained LEV II SULEV status with the new kit, and their recently completed lab testing for a CARB certification showed that a supercharged CR-Z would actually warrant a higher EPA highway fuel economy rating than the stock car by a couple mpg. This is also in keeping with what Jackson Racing found, and while we didn't test economy on the HPD CR-Z, our experience in the Jackson car suggests this to be true.
Along with the supercharger, HPD also offers as optional an upgraded clutch, a helical limited slip differential, a big brake kit (front only), body kit, custom exhaust (center exit to work with the body kit), and a shock/spring suspension package. Finally, they also have a beautiful set of 18"x7.5" wheels that really help the appearance of the CR-Z. Perhaps the best part about all of these things is that Honda will warranty them - and they won't invalidate your factory warranty either. LaPointe told us that their intent is to offer a warranty even if installed by someone other than the dealer, although it wasn't clear how this would work, so we will have to wait and see.