Rumors of a performance-tuned variant of Honda's CR-Z hybrid coupe have circulated for some time now, but new reports suggest such a model could even do without the hybrid powertrain altogether.
Autocar alleges sources close to Honda have indicated a high-performance CR-Z could ditch the company's Integrated Motor Assist system, and adopt a new, turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4. The British magazine suggests the engine is an all-new design currently under development by Honda's Japanese R&D team, and could possibly crank out close to 200 horsepower.
The idea for a gasoline-only version of the CR-Z reportedly made its way to Honda executives when sales of the CR-Z started to slump in its home market, which is typically hybrid hungry. While this engine would be a great fit for a performance CR-Z, it's also reportedly planned to go into the Fit, next-generation Civic, and Accord (at least in Europe and Japan) in a 160-horspower state-of-tune. The more potent 200 horsepower version is designed to replace the current normally aspirated, 2.0-liter I-4 in the Civic Si.
Bumping the CR-Z's output to 200 horsepower could possibly make it a formidable player in the hot hatch segment. Not only is that output equal with the Volkswagen GTI, but given the CR-Z's lithe 2600-pound curb weight, it could feasibly bless the car with a power-to-weight ratio on par with the 263-horsepower Mazdaspeed 3.
An interesting proposition, but we wonder if Honda is considering another option. The automaker brought a number of tuned CR-Zs to this year's Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, but one concept, dubbed the CR-Z Hybrid R, garnered plenty of attention. Crafted by the Honda Performance Development (HPD) team, the car was powered by a turbocharged form of the stock 1.5-liter I-4, along with a tweaked IMA hybrid system. Collectively, the entire hybrid driveline was able to throw down 200 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. Interestingly, this same driveline was fitted to a pair of race-prepped CR-Zs for the 25 Hours of Thunderhill; one car managed to finish second in its class, while the other set the fastest lap time.
We like the idea of a powerful CR-Z, but wonder if Honda necessarily needs to abandon the hybrid driveline in order to appease enthusiasts. What say you? Should Honda tune its current setup for increased performance, or should it switch to a different driveline? Lend your thoughts to the comments section below.