The people at automotive spring mega-manufacturer Eibach have about as much interest in Honda’s gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain as they do going into the business of selling sandwiches. Which is why after no less than a year of familiarizing themselves with the 2011 CR-Z they arranged to have the factory 1.5L engine plucked for the less environmentally friendly but exponentially more powerful 2.4L K series.
Work rollers, Toyo rubber, and StopTech's big brake kit control the stop and go on Eibach'
The power-conscious, environmentally careless enthusiast in you tells you that Honda’s CR-Z should’ve came that way from the factory. But Honda isn’t in the business of making cars for power-conscious, environmentally careless enthusiasts like you. It never has been. Even the company’s crown jewel NSX and S2000 sports cars and Type R trims positioned your horsepower and torque wants tertiary to characteristics like efficiency and suspension finesse. But you knew all of that and, as you’d expect, so do the folks at HaSport, who are responsible for transforming Eibach’s CR-Z into the car that you think it should be.
It’s no surprise that the star of HaSport’s CR-Z engine swap kit is the company’s billet-aluminum mounts. Of course, there’s more to it, but not as much as you’d expect. HaSport’s own Brian Gillespie says that the swap is “surprisingly straightforward.” The wiring is similar to the ’06 Civic Si, and aside from yanking the hybrid nonsense from the chassis and shedding nearly 160 pounds, the rest remains almost disappointedly uneventful. Almost. “The hardest part was figuring out where to put the motor,” Gillespie says. “It was in and out 20 times before we settled on its location.” The relentless removing and replacing wasn’t for naught, though. The results are compatibility with the customary ’06 Civic Si exhaust manifold but with room to spare. “It almost seems as if Honda said, ‘This should fit in here,’” Gillespie quips.
Following weeks of engine swap research and development at HaSport, Eibach’s CR-Z was delivered back to its Southern California headquarters where the company’s marketing coordinator, Tony Jackson, would, well, coordinate the remainder of the events. Early on an expanse of suspension components were designed, test-fitted, and later developed for the CR-Z, the most notable of which are Eibach’s Multi-Pro-R2 coilovers. The Multi-Pro system features double-adjustable rebound and compression damping along with remote reservoirs. The double-adjustable damping means that compression and rebound can be dialed in independent of one another while the remote reservoirs help enhance cooling and consistent damping. Jackson also commissioned an Eibach 22mm antiroll bar out back along with an alignment kit and 30mm wheel spacers, also from Eibach, up front. Handling and grip are further improved upon with Work Emotion CR Kai wheels and Toyo R888 tires. Nestled behind all of that is a system of stopping components from brake manufacturer StopTech. Well-rounded additions these all are.
Springs waiting to be shot peened, which increases fatigue life. Most manufacturers avoid
Truth be told, plans for the K-series swap weren’t exactly certain upon Eibach’s first securing the CR-Z. “Our original plans were to maximize power with the stock engine. [We] discussed doing a K swap, but it seemed more like a pipe dream at the beginning,” Jackson says. Jackson, along with Eibach associates Ryan Hoegner, Adam Matthews, and Phong Diep, can be credited with where the CR-Z’s power would ultimately come from, though. “Everyone had their creative input,” Jackson related. “Ryan headed up the project with HaSport to get the K24 in. I’ve been taking the lead on modifications, suspension tuning, and taking it to the track.”
Jackson explains that as the car progresses, so does the company’s interest in the project. “There’s a lot more enthusiasm from everyone at Eibach now that the car is getting more exposure and track time, and we plan to push forward with this build to make the car better and better,” he says. Originally built for the 2010 SEMA show with a nearly benign modifications list, plans for the car immediately afterward remained modest and certainly didn’t involve track time. That changed quickly, though, in part because of Jackson, Hoegner, and Diep’s longtime affinity toward all things Honda. Since then, the car has made an appearance at the 2011 SEMA show in its K-series garb and competed in a variety of track days and events across Southern California.
Eibach purchased its CR-Z in mid-2010 mainly for parts research and development but soon recognized the once hybrid as a competent race car. With only 49 miles on the odometer and the factory-appointed 1.5L hybrid powertrain still in place, Eibach personnel competed in 2010’s Super Lap Battle held at Buttonwillow Raceway Park—a maiden voyage of sorts for the newly acquired test vehicle. “We were all curious what we could do with the car in stock form with just wheels, suspension, and brake upgrades,” Jackson says. “Since then, we’ve taken the car to just about every local track from Buttonwillow to Streets of Willow to Chuckwalla to Adams Motorsport Park to AutoClub Speedway for testing and competing.” Following the K-series swap, which yields about 215hp, Jackson has gone on to pilot the car regularly in the HFF Challenge’s Modified class where he’s placed respectably throughout the year. And they aren’t finished yet. According to Jackson, the CR-Z’s still got more in it, and once all of its bugs are sorted out, they plan on proving as much.
Honda isn’t in the business of designing, manufacturing, and selling cars that emanate horsepower. It never has been. But that hasn’t prevented the company from producing some of the most iconic and capable subcompacts of our lifetime. The question is: Is the CR-Z one of them? Jackson will tell you the car’s definitely got an enthusiast following, albeit nowhere near as sizable as what the ’88–’91 CRX has seen. “I think once the price drops a little more on used CR-Zs, we’ll see more K-swapped versions out there.”