The normal CR-Z, a small hybrid coupe, is an unassuming car by almost any definition. (It's fallen a little flat in that regard, considering it's a spiritual successor to both the CR-X and the groundbreaking first-generation Insight.) But then, out of nowhere, Honda goes and swaps out the drivetrain for a high-strung all-electric situation with all-wheel drive and steering. Now you're talking.
The jacked-up CR-Z that Honda threw together competed at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb last weekend, placing first in the Exhibition class with a time of 10:23.829. (For comparison, the fastest time for the entire event was turned in by drifting star Rhys Millen, who won in an all-electric prototype — another Pikes Peak first — with a time of 9:07.222.) It was driven by Japanese Super GT racer Tetsuya Yamano, who praised the drivetrain for letting him "corner quickly with good traction."
A major moment for electrics in racing
Obviously, you're not going to see anything like this in dealerships: it's some sort of experimental electric setup paired with SH-AWD — Honda's AWD system that can vector torque left and right as well as front and back — that's just wrapped in a CR-Z shell designed to make workaday CR-Zs jealous.
Considering this and Millen's win, this year's climb feels like a major moment for electrics in racing. NASCAR couldn't be that far behind, could it? (Yes, yes, it could.)