Driving You Crazy – J’s Racing CR-Z
J’s Racing’s CR-Z is packed to the roof with the best that J’s can offer, with their long experience with Hondas. They’ve taken the best features of the car and improved it, while never losing sight of their central philosophy for it – performance without losing economy. There’s no doubt that we are witnessing the beginning of a new era. The tuning industry in Japan has had to reinvent itself following a noticeable shift towards the development and production of economical cars.
Manufacturers have had to respond to current trends, not to mention a somewhat stagnant economy, by getting on the eco-car bandwagon with tuners following suit. The Honda CR-Z is the perfect example of what all this research and development has spawned and thankfully, someone out there has understood that people still want to have fun and enjoy driving when doing their best to save fuel.
Since its introduction in 2010 the CR-Z has been experiencing unexpected success, with over 10,000 cars shifted in the first month alone. Tuning shops seem to be in a race to see who can create the most aftermarket parts and in just over a year the whole “hybrid tuning” movement has literally exploded. From power-boosting bolt-on turbo and supercharger kits to handling improvements the market is now saturated with everything needed to make the CR-Z more focused. To find out more about this latest craze in Japan we visited Honda tuning specialist J’s Racing in Osaka to see what they have been up to with their very own demo car. When it comes to extracting more performance out of a Honda, J’s Racing certainly knows a thing or two.
They have created some of the fastest cars to come out of Japan and have had countless successful stints in the motorsports world. As Umehara-san of J’s Racing tells us “we have never ignored the small and affordable car, starting years ago with the Fit or otherwise the Jazz as it is known in some other countries. The smaller and more eco-friendly package is something that J’s customers have come to appreciate, even if most of their business is still centred around the various Type-Rs and of course the S2000. But the CR-Z couldn’t have come at a better time now that Honda Japan has even ceased production of the Civic Type-R ! The sports hybrid seems to be the way forward for Honda, so why not just embrace it. J’s Racing has spent a great deal of time fine-tuning their CR-Z, beginning with the oily bits. With a 1.5L electrically assisted engine, performance was never going to be blistering; but Umehara wanted to at least perfect what was already there.
The engine note came first, receiving a much needed boost of decibels and overall sound quality thanks to the J’s Racing FX Titanium exhaust system, and thanks to a better design also marginally increases the power. On the intake side, J’s fitted a 60mm throttle (2mm bigger than standard) along with a J’s Racing Maxflow replacement panel filter. Rounding up the modifications is J’s Racing Hyper ECU, which reflashes the stock engine management system with a custom map. Power rises to 145 bhp and torque comes in at 18.7kg/m (183.38 Nm), but it isn’t all about numbers; the engine feels more responsive and more willing to rev. Plus let’s not forget there is an additional 14bhp boost from the IMA system !
To deliver the improved performance more efficiently, a higher-friction J’s Racing Ultrafibre clutch disc was fitted along with a one-way High Traction limited slip differential, which has the job of juggling traction between the two front wheels. And it doesn’t end there. To help the engine be on power through tight corners the gears are now slightly shorter thanks to a 4.6:1 final gear.
Body And Feet
145bhp might not sound like much but the CR-Z has weight on its side, or rather a lack of it. With only 1,130 kg to carry around, it’s handling that J’s Racing really concentrated on, starting off the upgrades with a set of their adjustable Crux dampers mated to Swift springs, 13 kg/mm up front and 10 kg/mm at the rear.
Next up, it was time to make sure the lightweight shell was as stiff as possible so front and rear strut tower bars went in, along with additional bracing to increase torsional rigidity.
Opening the rear hatch will reveal some of the bracing as well as the J’s Racing IMA battery cooling system, an electrical fan that circulates cool air from two side intakes towards the rear-mounted batteries. It’s a good way to guarantee the cells perform at their highest potential during hard driving on track.
Hauling the car down from speed are the 4-pot R-Master front calipers mounted to larger 2-piece slotted J’s Racing discs both at the front and rear. High friction R-Master RM551+ brake pads offer fade proof performance while the J’s Racing stainless steel mesh brake lines keep the middle pedal firm and communicative at all times.
Lightweight Volk Racing RE30s are a well-chosen match, finished off with purple detailing along the rims to match the exterior’s complex graphics. The 18-inch RE30s measure 8 inches across in front and 7.5 inches across in the rear, and are shod with sticky Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 in 225/40 R18 size all round. J’s Racing have found that running a slightly larger rim width up front makes the steering more responsive as the sidewall is stretched inwards and therefore quicker-reacting to input and road demands.
Ditching the factory seats and folding the almost unusable rear seats flat was the first step in creating a more performance-oriented ambience in the interior. Recaro RS-G racing buckets followed, mounted on extra-low J’s Racing seat rails.
Obligatory Takata harnesses were added for that must have JDM touch while the CR-Z’s futuristic instrumentation was joined by a pair of dash-mounted Defi gauges, one for water temperature, the other for oil pressure. Nice touches like the titanium shift knob and carbon fibre steering wheel inserts complete what is a simple yet well upgraded interior. The looks of the car followed next and, having seen some of J’s Racing’s creations before, we knew no compromises were going to be made to make this hybrid look very special.
Transforming the CR-Z into a more performance focused car are a series of J’s Racing aero parts, developed for both speed and looks. The front bumper spoiler extends the standard bumper downwards into an integrated lip spoiler as well as increasing the size of the side intakes where the driving lights are located. The redesigned grille helps direct more air towards the airbox for a sort of ram air effect while the carbon fibre bonnet, thanks to its large central opening, helps lower engine bay temperatures.
Deeper and more angular side skirts continue the transformation until we meet the J’s lower bumper spoiler and diffuser section which is there to help handle airflow more efficiently as it passes along and under the car. On top of the CR-Z’s uniquely styled rump sits a carbon fibre GT wing, a true must-have on any serious circuit car.
Honda has certainly succeeded in creating a hybrid car for the enthusiast, but the need to make it economical has left some wanting more. The aftermarket has shown just how quickly it can adapt to an evolving market, and in the process – as demonstrated by J’s Racing – it has created a line up of parts that will help owners get the most out of what is a package with a whole lot of potential. With hotter versions of the CR-Z rumoured to be coming, as well as a possible Type-R variant, this is one car we will be seeing quite a lot of in the next few years.
Vehicle : Honda CR-Z
Power : 145 bhp @ 6,100 rpm
Torque : 183.38 Nm @ 4,800 rpm
Workshop : J’s Racing
Country : Japan, Osaka
J’s Racing Hyper ECU / J’s Racing DWB 60mm Throttle / J’s Racing Maxflow Air Filter / J’s Racing FX Titanium Exhaust Centre Pipe / J’s Racing FX Titanium Exhaust System / J’s Racing Carbon Radiator Shroud / J’s Racing Low-Temp Thermostat / J’s Racing Coolant Hose Kit / J’s Racing Oil Filter Cap / J’s Racing Oil Catch Tank
J’s Racing Type-S Front Bumper Spoiler / J’s Racing Type-S Sports Grille / J’s Racing Front Tow Hook / J’s Racing Carbon Fibre Aero Bonnet / J’s Racing Type-S Side Skirts / J’s Racing Carbon 3D GT Hatch Mounted Wing / J’s Racing Type-S Rear Diffuser / J’s Racing Rear Tow Hook / J’s Racing LED Back-Lit Honda Badges
J’s Racing Ultrafibre Clutch Disc / J’s Racing High Traction 1 Way LSD / J’s Racing 4.6 Final Drive / Swift Springs 13 kg/mm Front, 10 kg/mm Rear / J’s Racing CRUXver Adjustable Dampers / J’s Racing Front Strut Tower Bar / J’s Racing Rear Tower Bar / J’s Racing Side Inner Brace / J’s Racing Rear Monocoque Bar / J’s Racing Pillar Bars / J’s Racing Braided Brake Lines / Slotted Rotors / R-Master 4-pot Front Calipers / RM551+ Brake Pads / Rays Engineering Volk Racing RE30 Wheels 8Jx18” +44 Front, 7.5Jx18” +43 Rear / Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 225/40 R18 Front & Rear / J’s Racing Chromoly Long Nuts
Recaro RS-G SK Bucket Seats / Takata Racing Harnesses / Defi Advance BF Water Temp Gauge / Defi Oil Pressure Gauge / J’s Racing Low-Mount Seat Rails / Carbon Steering Wheel Panel / J’s Racing Titanium Shift Knob / Carbon Mirror Cover / Spider Mats / IMA Battery Cooling System
[ Click picture to enlarge ]
Text & Photos By HOTstuff magazine