PocketRocket's pocket rocket

The Honda CRZ

Back in 1988 when Honda released their 2nd edition CRX model, it was testament to how much the masses liked the CRX. Lightweight, nimble, easy on the fuel consumption and being a Honda, engines were abundant for swapping. When the SiR edition was released, the fiery and extremely potent B16A gave the super lightweight car a minimum of 150whp of power to play with. The CRX had such a cult following, so when Honda announced the release of the CRZ expectations shot up sky high (note Honda opted to skip the alphabet "Y" from their upgrade. CR-Y somehow wouldn't have made a great name).

When the car was announced to be a hybrid, Honda fans all over the world sneered at pre-launch pictures and started to condemn the car before even experiencing it. Granted, it was announed to have a paltry 1.5L engine with all the fancy hybrid add-ons, it was a heavy-assed car and with a measely 120bhp engine (for this article, I will only refer to the glorious 6-speed manual version. No one really cares about the CVT auto model. Seriously) but what everyone failed to realise is the CRZ was never really meant to be the CRX successor. Legends will forever remain legends and should never be succeeded with a different model name. If it was the successor, it'd be called the CR-Xv2, CR-X2 or something funky.

In my opinion, the CRZ was more of a combined testbed of all of Honda's new technology. The precursor to the more exciting hybrids after their pathetic earlier attempt (i.e. - Insight); the fancy new meter cluster that we all now see in the new Civic; the awesome Starship Enterprise cockpit paired with the incredible driving position; all pioneered by the CRZ. The introductory price in Malaysia definitely set the expectation - a cool post-tax-exempt 100k!

Having lived with a stock manual 6-speed CRZ for 2 weeks (thanks Fishbonezken!), I can safely give my opinion on this car without any biased assumptions. I effing love this car. Sure, it's not as fast I'd like it to be nor did it have a respectable sized boot and there was no real way to get in and out of the car with dignity (I'm only 5ft8 short). But the driving experience was incredible. It handled well, it would hit every imaginary apex I wanted to hit almost telepathetically and the "eco" mode made traffic jams very interesting. The "sport" mode however was somewhat lacking as I kept draining the battery within 5 minutes of driving it in sports mode. But it was an incredibly entertaining car to drive, comparable with that psychotic corgi you have at home that jumps at you everytime you get back from work and attacks your knee because that was as high as it could jump. Pointless having a dog like that but it sure is entertaining to have around!

Just look at that insane toothless smile from PocRoc's (Justin) car. You look at that smile once and you know you're gonna have fun with this car.

The stock car with it's eco-friendly tyres and stock rims is already a hoot to drive. What happens when you swap stock out and replace with ultra lightweight Enkei RPF-01 16" 8j front and 7j rear rims and use super grippy R888 and RE01R tyres? Super hoot.

Justin explained that the CRZ was not and still is not cheap to modify for power. So the alternative would be to reduce the overall weight and improve the handling. Notice the missing plastic bits and pieces, and those nice shiney bars! Normal FWD cars with light rears would have very lively rears, but because the CRZ has massively heavy batteries it isn't as lively as you'd expect a short wheel based car to be. Since Justin opted for R888 rears, the cross bars stiffens the rear keeping it very planted in aggressive corners. The rear tower struts keeps the geometry of the Macpherson suspension in check. All the bars were installed by Justin himself and he's pretty proud of this fact since the cross-bar was an animal to install!

Every branded part you see on this CRZ are all original, even the Rays lugnuts. And that gunmetal matt grey colour you see on the wheel are DIY-ed, Plastidipped! That smooth texture is from years of 'dipping' items - the difference between a proper 'dip' and a shoddy job is the texture. If it's sprayed too near the object then the texture will be grainy, sprayed too far and you'll have a patchy texture. I would know, I screwed up my own grill which now feels like sandpapered cheese.

As Justins mods to the car wasn't too power-focused, the stock brakes were retained since the stock 4 disc brakes were plenty good already to reign in the slightly-more-than-stock wheel horsepower.

Keen eyed Honda enthusiasts would notice the differences in the engine bay and the similarities with the Honda Jazz. Yes, a frankensteined engine. The Jazz intake manifold has longer runners and larger air reserves, Justin explained that this helps to increase torque and engine response. AEM cold air intake for better breathing, T.M. Works iginition harness for better sparking, a Hondata tune and no other power mods. Lots of Skunk2 parts such as the oil cap, radiator cap, sleeves and even the battery tie down add to the aesthetics of the supremely clean engine bay. The Skunk2 megapower muffler enhances the overall aureal experience since the stock car is pretty quiet. The LEA I4 SOHC engine doesn't really make a lot of music and doesn't quite have the VTEC engagement growl so the muffler is definitely a welcome addition!

A popular DIY to keep airconditioning cold would be to wrap the aircon piping with insulation foam (superlon/insuflex) and Justin was the one I learnt this DIY from. He probably wouldn't be a pioneer for this DIY but as the 'student', I need to acknowledge my 'master'!

In pursuit of more power, Justin recently added... or should I say removed... the EGR valve with a delete kit. This is somewhat a controversial modification and for a few reasons. Some engineers think removing the EGR valve is pointless and will only affect your fuel consumption because to them the valve only opens under low pressure or load (not wide-open-throttle or WOT for short). When WOT the EGR is shut off due to the pressure therefore none of the exhaust gases is recirculated.

The other view on the EGR valve is that it robs power from the engine since combustion is affected with the introduction of inert exhaust gases. Some engines with MAF sensors will trigger the throttle to open more due to the lack of oxygen in the manifold. In the case of Audi engines, the EGR is supposedly always open therefore always circulating exhaust gases through the combustion chamber. However Audis have EGR coolers which cool the exhaust gases before it is introduced back into the cylinder. I'm not entirely certain what the effects are having such a system but the concept of the EGR delete is to ensure your engine is always breathing 'clean' air, minus the exhaust gases. The supposed plus side is the increase in power. The downside is the increase in fuel consumption and engine temperature.

If you didn't understand that, the EGR valve essentially recirculates a percentage of your exhaust gases back into the manifold introducing inert gases into the combustion chamber effectively diluting the amount of oxygen in the combustion process. This reduces the combustion temperature and lowers the amount of Nitrogen Oxide in your exhaust. If you haven't guessed already - yes, I'm talking about emissions. The EGR controls your exhaust emissions to meet car emission standards (varies from country to country).

The last mods Justin shared with us were 'feel-good' mods. Feel-good mods are what I consider mods that make the whole driving experience better, be it handling, torque, or just for the feel-good factor. An original Bride carbon kevlar bucket seat which was DIY installed, carbon fiber hood, front Seeker lips and ducktail spoiler - DIY installed, custom DIY facelifted rear diffuser, DIY installed JDM rear Password wiper delete, Plastidipped gear console trim, center control trim, mirror caps, custom made chicken-fence DIY front grill, Buddyclub short shifter and adaptor all DIY installed, Skunk2 shift knob and extenion, and loads of other feel-good DIY installs. Personally though, any mod that's DIY-ed usually will feel good whether it works or not so it sounds like Justin is an addict!

Justin offered a few times to test drive his car. I was tempted, very tempted. However I make it a point not to test-drive the cars I feature in case I mess up I wouldn't know what to say to the car owner much less be able to afford to repay the blood, sweat and tears spent on building their cars! So in the end he took me for a spin and it was nostalgic of the time I had the CRZ for 2 weeks except much much louder.

In conclusion Justins CRZ is just one example of the many modified CRZs out there. It's noisy, it's difficult to get in and out of, it has virtually no boot space (I know Justin ferries his 2 dogs around, but I don't have dogs. So it doesn't count), it's small, it's frugal and it handles like a terrier wearing grippy running shoes. Virtually impractical! But would I want one?

A most resounding, definite yes.

- Izso


The Heart:
LEA I4 SOHC engine
GE8 intake manifold (diy Plasti dip red) AEM CAI T.M Works Ignition harness
Skunk2 oil cap
Skunk2 radiator cap
Skunk2 reservoir sleeves
Skunk2 battery tie down
Skunk2 megapower muffler
Insulated air-con hoses

Stock 6 speed Manual

Suspension and Brakes

Ultra Racing 2 pt front under member brace
Ultra Racing 4 pt front fender bar
Ultra Racing 4 pt mid member brace
Ultra Racing 19mm rear anti-roll bar
Custom strut tower hard mounts
Cusco front strut bar
J's Racing rear strut bar
Custom rear X bar
Enkei RPF-01 16 x 7j rear, 8j front

Plasti dipped gunmetal front & back emblems
Plasti dipped side mirror caps
Blue convex side mirrors
Front grille delete
Front Seeker lips
Carbon fiber oem hood
Carbon fiber rear JDP ducktail
Custom rear facelift diffuser
Password: JDM rear wiper delete
Skunk2 license plate frame
Oem splash guards

Plasti dipped gear console trim
Plasti dipped center console trim
Buddyclub short shifter with short shifter adapter
Skunk2 shift knob with extension
Bride full bucket seat
Interior LED lighting conversion