How’s this for unexpected: Honda is taking its race-spec CR-Z hybrid concept to Le Mans. Instead of the famed 24-hour endurance race that starts June 11, the custom CR-Z will instead complete short demonstration laps in an exhibition of new, green vehicles called “Le Mans vers le Futur.” (“Le Mans toward the future.”)
The CR-Z has been tweaked by Honda Performance Development; the idea was displayed at the 2010 Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas. The HPD CR-Z has a gutted interior, full roll cage, race seat, and five-point harness, making it ready to hit the track.The hybrid’s mechanicals are mostly stock, although the 1.5-liter inline-four engine has been blessed with a turbocharger, improving combined output to 200 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque.
Far from just a show car, Honda hopes the HPD CR-Z will give the company feedback on employing hybrid vehicles in motor racing. Honda displayed two copies of the HPD CR-Z at California’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill race in December 2010, and it is used as a pace car for Europe’s Speed Euroseries racing championship.
This gives us hope that Honda will one day unveil a higher-performance version of the CR-Z for public consumption. Indeed, tuner Mugen is already hard at work developing a 197-hp, go-fast version of the hybrid that will debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this summer. Sadly Mugen claims that car is just a one-off concept.