By Joe Bruzek on August 20, 2014
Honda's sporty hybrid CR-Z is one of the only hybrids ever to give drivers a choice of rowing their own gears with a manual transmission. The manual transmission plays to the CR-Z's goal of hybrid fuel economy that doesn't sacrifice driving entertainment, an objective the CR-Z never quite nailed. Now, the performance aspect of the CR-Z is prevailing with a newly optional dealership-installed supercharger boosting power from 130 horsepower to 197 hp.
The Honda Performance Development supercharger — available only on manual transmission cars — bumps power very close to the naturally aspirated 205-hp under the hood of the sporty 2014 Honda Civic Si. The CR-Z weighs about 400 pounds less than the Civic Si, tipping the scales around 2,600 pounds before the supercharger installation. That's enough of a weight savings over the similarly powered Civic Si to make us very interested in driving a supercharged CR-Z.
Speaking of dealer-installation, it's not included in the $5,495 price of the kit and must be done at a Honda dealership to retain perhaps one of the best perks of this system: The CR-Z's five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty is honored even after the kit is installed. Installation prices will vary by dealership, but Honda spokesman Chris Martin says Honda expects installation to take approximately nine hours. Included with the supercharger kit is an air-to-air intercooler, high-flow fuel injectors and an engine control unit tweaked to run 91-octane fuel and meet California Air Resources Board partial zero-emissions vehicle regulations. An optional limited-slip differential and upgraded sport clutch are also available to complement the newfound power.
The power is there, but the CR-Z is still a hybrid so what about fuel economy? Because the supercharger is a post-sale dealer-installed accessory, Martin says Honda is not providing EPA estimates for CR-Zs with the supercharger. Non-supercharged CR-Z fuel economy is EPA-rated at 31/38/34 mpg city/highway/combined with the manual transmission. Honda's supercharger kit is available at dealerships this month.
Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek covers Cars.com’s short-and long-term fleet of test cars and drives a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Email Joe