Hate It or Love It? CR-Z with Martini Rally Livery

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Martini Rally CR-Z

What do you think of this rally-themed CR-Z hanging out at a snow-strewn paddock in Japan?  Does this ride do justice to the famous Martini livery?

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Tokyo Auto Salon 2011 – It’s Not a Car Show

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TommyKaira 2011 GT-R
After a little thawing out from the Tokyo trip I’m glad to get back to blogging. We covered a lot of ground on this last trip to Tokyo but I’ll start off with some Tokyo Auto Salon perspective.

Every TAS there are popular cars that we see more of than others. The popular cars are usually a combination of new cars and cars that tuning shops feel will represent a big/profitable audience and customer base. Much like 2010 SEMA was Camaro dominated, 2011 TAS was dominated by GT-Rs and CR-Zs this year.

Many people internationally seem to be frustrated that there were very few S2000s, Evos and STis and 370Zs represent at TAS. Although I feel their pain since I would have liked to see that as well, it is a good reminder that TAS is not a car show it is a trade show. There simply is not much innovation happening to S2000s, Evos, STis and 370Zs in the past year. No business minded company wants to spend a lot of money for an expensive booth to showcase a badass car that has not seen anything significantly new in the past couple of years. At the same time, most companies can’t justify investing 50k-100k if not more to develop a line of parts for those platforms because they cant make a return on their investment. Innovation takes new clients with cash in hand, unfortunately there are not a lot of clients with money ready to buy new parts for those models at the moment…if there were then supply would pick up to meet demand.

Much like last year with the heavy tuning market speculation on the Honda Insight and Prius (and every tuning shop seemingly having those in their booths), this year’s speculation car is the CR-Z. All companies need to bet on a hot new car and the CR-Z was this years bet. Personally, I feel it is a far safer bet than the Honda Insight which I think everyone can agree did not yield an enthusiast tuner market and was dead on arrival.

The CR-Z is already proven to be highly potent as displayed by Top Secret and HKS’s evolving time attack battle. Both companies have bolted on turbos and completed well balanced tunes that have transformed the already capable platform. It also helps that the CR-Z happens to look quite good. As a result, the only thing stopping the success of a great CR-Z tuning movement is the depth of the pockets of CR-Z owners and the gap between dreaming about a Top Secret or HKS tuned CR-Z and actually owning one. Time will tell how effectively dreams turn into reality for CR-Z owners freshly inspired from the show. We will certainly do our part on Bulletproof’s end to cost effectively and efficiently get the best parts like those into owner’s hands.

The R35 GT-R continues to remain the definitive hot tuner car. Although not all is what it seems on the surface… There are two key challenges to the seemingly endless aftermarket parts hype for R35s in Japan. 1. The fact that still almost nobody in Japan is tuning their GT-Rs due to the restrictive overseeing fist of Nissan’s domestic dealer and service network. 2. There are very few GT-Rs in existence relative to the insane number of tuning parts on the market. This means a saturation of aftermarket parts and a lot of companies who will move very few units as the love is spread thin across so many competing solutions for owner’s attention.

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Top Secret vs. HKS CR-Z Battle

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These little CR-Z hybrids are starting to get serious! Although the stock spec CR-Z is not terribly powerful, tuners Top Secret and HKS have both already overcome that hurdle with apparent ease. HKS’s CR-Z is supercharged and currently produces 315ps at the wheels. Top Secret’s CR-Z sports a bolt on turbo as it’s method of forced induction and outputs 305ps at the wheels. Both power #s are now very respectable, especially considering the size and weight of the car they are powering.

However, I think almost anyone who drives sports cars can appreciate the point that a proper tuned car is more about lap times and less about dyno charts. So the real test of the tuners is how they performed against each other at Tsukuba.

Surprisingly the smaller tuning shop Top Secret was able to beat the publicly traded mega tuner HKS at a Tsukuba circuit time attack battle! Considering the differences in R&D budgets that’s quite a huge feat for Top Secret!

The best lap times at Tsukuba Cirucit are as follows:

Top Secret CR-Z: 1’06.368

HKS CR-Z: 1’07.04

Further information can be found in the latest Option Video and Magazine


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HKS Supercharged CR-Z – F1 Sounding Video

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I watched this video of HKS’s supercharged CR-Z on the dyno and was really amused. Can you tell why?

HKS Supercharged CR-Z Green Monster

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Honda CR-Z Tuning Scene: Supercharged CR-Z by HKS

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HKS CR-Z Supercharged

As we are starting to get inquires over here to import CR-Z tuning parts for clients, the excitement over the North American release of the CR-Z is starting to grow. Tuners in Japan have had the car for some time now and the internet has shown us numerous examples of tuned CR-Zs. However, this is the first example I can think of using forced induction.

HKS Japan has been on a heavy promotional push lately for their GT Superchargers. All of the current talk in Japan is showing some momentum for supercharger popularlity to gain marketshare compared to turbo cars. In fact there are even some pretty wild examples of HKS GT supercharged JZA80 Supras in Japan pushing respectable power (500hp range). The idea of a supercharged Supra seems really nuts to me since the car is one of the most famous uses of a turbo charged setup in modern car history. Yet the value of supercharges always creates a good and interesting argument between the merits of going SC or Turbo. While there is no proven correct answer, the line continues to get blurred as a lot of current superchargers start to look even a lot more like turbos.

HKS in effort to promote their GT Superchargers has equipped their CR-Z demo car with one of their new superchargers. The result is an increased power level to 170hp which is more respectable but still nothing mind blowing. Surely in time the potential will increase further, so lets give it a little more time and when these CR-Zs start getting into the mid to high 200hp range I think they’ll be a lot of fun.

HKS CR-Z SuperchargedHKS CR-Z Supercharged

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CR-Z – ZzzZzz No More Thanks To Top Secret

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Top Secret Induction Kit

The sleepy CR-Z is slowly getting woken up by tuning shops in Japan. The latest to step into the arena is none other than Top Secret. Top Secret has released a mighty impressive intake system utilizing titanium for the piping and carbon fiber for the air filter shroud. The intake is sure to pick up a few hp, shed a few lbs and gain a few drops of drool at the car shows.

To celebrate Top Secret joining the CR-Z tuning scene we decided to launch a CR-Z section of the Bulletproof Automotive website which can be found here:


In the upcoming weeks you can expect to see the full CR-Z catalog of tuning parts from Top Secret, Mugen, Spoon, HKS, Backyard Special and a few other brands that we work with often.

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Honda CR-Z Tuning Begins In Japan by Ben Schaffer

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HKS CR-Z At Fuji Speedway Advan Rims

While the tuning world waits for the release of the Toyota FT-86, the CR-Z is quietly becoming the latest hot tuner car in Japan. Already HKS has outfitted a CR-Z and run the car at Fuji Speedway (I suspect quite slowly). As an old Honda tuning lover, I cant help but get a little excited seeing the evolution of the beloved CR-X with this CR-Z. I never really imagined a CR-Z existing back when I first started modifying my Honda Prelude…and you know what, I have to admit the CR-Z looks pretty cool to me!

At the moment Mugen as expected has the jump on the CR-Z tuning as they already have released a complete tuning package. At the moment Mugen has come out with a full aero kit, suspension, wheels, an intake and a very curious looking exhaust.

For anyone looking for CR-Z tuning parts, hopefully you already know that Bulletproof Automotive is the spot to get all of the latest and greatest Japanese tuning goods!



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