I’ve always liked the CR-Z’s styling as a sporty and stylish little hatchback – even if its performance credentials couldn’t quite cash the check its looks wrote. I didn’t plan to build it so soon, but I happened to stumble across the Mugen model in person at a hobby shop around L.A., so I figured why not – beats having to wait a month for it to come from Japan.
I never really knew what went into the Mugen version of this car, but apparently it was a real thing and it really spruced the car up to what it should’ve been from factory. The madmen actually slapped a supercharger on the tiny 1.5 litre motor and even kept its core identity as a hybrid intact. Of course, this Fujimi model is just a curbside kit – we won’t be seeing any motor under the hood here, but all the Mugen aero and exterior bits do add a nice spice.
This is where I began noticing that the CR-Z looks very unflattering at certain angles (that rear shot of the built sample brings to mind the classic Prius “egg” look), but I had faith that it could turn out nice.
There’s not a lot out of the box since there’s no motor or complex body panels, but I actually really like what we get for a curbside model. The amount of suspension parts and interior detail is a lot better than the last Fujimi Honda I built.
The interior tub really struck me as odd – this is the first time I’ve ever seen parts of the seats molded in. I never planned to swap the seats out with fancy buckets anyway, but this sort of design makes doing that a lot more difficult than it otherwise needs to be. Very strange.
I’m actually impressed with the trunk floor mat molding detail, and especially the pre-molded stock front grille. They could’ve gotten a very similar effect with mesh, but instead went for a very crisp plastic approach.
The irony comes with the fact that the impressive pre-molded grille is only for the stock car, while the special Mugen grille comes filled in, with only raised grille texture that you’d need to paint in black.
Core body comes without sideskirts or bumpers, which makes sense since the regular car had different parts. The hood is unfortunately molded in though – I wish some sort of vented aftermarket hood were available for this car, but it doesn’t seem so.
Mugen-exclusive wheels are given here, with somewhat thick tires. I decided to try out some thinner rubber pulled from the stockies given with my Revell Civic Si.
The CR-Z’s suspension and drive-train looks to be very basic compared to some of my more recent cars (I haven’t built a front-drive in a while so not having a driveshaft is weird), but I’m not particularly upset about this – makes adjusting ride height a breeze when I really only need to cut a single strut.
Original height versus lowered.
As I mentioned above, the cool Mugen bumper grille loses a lot of cool points by having a molded-in grille – makes the radiator detail on the body core very meaningless, so we couldn’t have that.
All of the molded grille mesh was cut, leaving only the neat little Mugen front bumper bar. Putty to fill in the license plate holes, because we’re rebels and don’t run plates.
What a lie, Fujimi. Your manual tells me there are holes on the body to line up the wing supports, but there are no such indents on the body and no such pegs on the wing parts (it makes sense that there wouldn’t be though, since the normal release didn’t get a wing). Guess we’re eyeballin’ this one.
The exhaust tip is very unique – it’s a triangle (and this car’s not even powered by a rotary!) that was originally filled in. I went in and opened it up, thinking it would look good as a center exit.
This is how I thought the exhaust was supposed to lay out – it would run under the car and exit out the rear center through the little matching triangle shape on the diffuser. Makes sense, given their shape right?
Turns out I was very mistaken. I cut out the triangle in the diffuser because I thought it was an exhaust outlet and planned to put mesh behind it, but after checking the manual again it looks like the exhaust just exits out the side behind the rear bumper – the fancy triangle tip wouldn’t even really be seen!
Underbody painted German Gray (because it was the only gray I had laying around, I know Honda is JDM AF) and semi gloss black.
I think this is the first kit that’s given the brake rotors and caliper assemblies separately. Everything I’ve built up until now has had the calipers molded with the rotors as one piece.
What’s weird is that Fujimi left what appears to be some weird circle mold marks on the outside face of the rotors, meaning I had to sand those smooth before I could use them. It seems like such a deliberate oversight that I wonder if those three circles were actually part of the rotor design on this car, maybe the result of some fancy regen brake wizardry because hybrid.
Undercarriage is really simple in its components, but very well detailed nonetheless.
Pulling some of the interior parts yielded some strangeness – Fujimi includes two different kinds of shifters – one is clearly in the traditional automatic lever style while the other seems to have a boot and a ball at the end indicating a manual.
That’s all well and good, but Fujimi never even gives you the option of a clutch with this kit, despite the different shifters. Brake and gas is it – maybe the “manual” shift lever was really just an auto stick with a boot?
Okay, so I should probably mention how I’m building this car now – I originally wanted to do a gloss black car with gold wheels – very basic clean and subtle – but decided to out on a limb for something a bit more unique instead.
So, to brainstorm schemes I went on a CR-Z Insta page and just picked out the coolest car I saw – which happened to be Joshwa’s (@mugen_zf) wrapped gray Mugen CR-Z. I’d never attempted a satin wrapped look before, so I thought it would be fun – thankfully Tamiya has just about every shade of gray under the sun for their model aircraft line, so I picked out AS-25 (Dark Ghost Gray) as a close match for my target car.
I didn’t intend to recreate Joshwa’s car exactly – he had a carbon vented hood and I had no idea what his interior looks like (I never actually made him aware I was building sort-of his car, though if I did I could’ve probably gotten more reference photos) but I just wanted to use it as a broad target base, while I filled in the blanks to my liking.
I also find that I like to paint the entire top ends of my cars black when I can – I think it comes from that NSX style of having an all-black top half. Normally the D-pillars here would be wrap color.
Decal sheet comes with all the Mugen markings – as though Fujimi were afraid you’d forget that you purchased the exclusive Mugen model.
I almost two-toned the dash the way I’ve seen it on some overseas market cars, but masking the glovebox and center console area didn’t look fun, so I got lazy and just kept it all black. Honda badge on the steering wheel was painted in. I also only realized after the fact that I totally put those Mugen gauge decals on upside down – not like they’re big enough to make out any lettering detail, but if you’re familiar with the design I believe it’s known that the black/red band faces down, not up.
I decided to still decal the hood in carbon, despite no vents.
On a whim, to make up for not masking the dash and spicing that up, I decided to go a bit more outlandish for the seats and doors. The irony is that I played myself because masking the seat bottoms and doors while they were molded into the tub was probably harder than just masking the dash.
Painted the seat backs in orange first, then went in with a brush and flat black acrylic to fill in the middles.
There’s not a whole lot of detail on the doors (typical with Fujimi, I’ve come to expect it) but the tub looks solid once it’s all matted down.
You won’t be able to see the pedals after assembly so you’ll never know if I lie to you and say it’s a manual, but in my heart I’ll always feel that void left by the missing clutch.
Mesh mesh mesh.
I really wanted to run the red Type R Honda badges just because I think it looks so good against the satin gray, but of course the kit didn’t come with any red badge decals because this isn’t a Type R. Thankfully, it did come with badge indents on the bumpers, meaning I could just paint the backgrounds in red.
Add the normal decals on top and boom, instant Type R. Technically the red is supposed to only be on the inside of the H, so I should’ve cut down the edges a bit, but I think the red outline effect is really cool – very happy with how this looks.
Front bar done up in gloss black with some chrome dots for the apparently microscopic daylight running lights that come with the Mugen bumper.
Wing deck wrapped in carbon fiber. This shape was actually quite a challenge to get right because of how the ends curve and sweep under, meaning I had to do quite a bit of edge wrapping and tucking to get it clean.
I’m impressed with the masking stickers here – they really thought of everything, and of course it’s all cut perfectly to fit.
Rear windows all tinted.
I didn’t realize until after the fact that Fujimi had intended you to paint the clear red for the taillights on the chrome taillight units themselves, rather than on the lenses – but I’ve been so used to painting clear lenses that I did it anyway. Same effect.
Mirrors are just plastic chrome inserts, but they work.
I’m pretty sure it’s a hybrid thing to have light blue in the headlights – the way Toyota started the trend with having hybrids have blue rings in their badges. Tried getting that effect here with straight clear blue over the chrome housing.
It ended up a little too deep blue at first, but I managed to lighten it up nicely with a little rubbing alcohol.
Wing and taillight lenses setting in after cement.
After test fitting the stock exhaust tip with the body I decided that the triangle tip looked lame after all, and I’m still salty I got played by Honda designers for thinking it came out the center diffuser exit, so I’m doing away with it entirely and replacing it with a twin tip I had lying around.
Cut a small piece of aluminum pipe (the same stuff I used to make the R34’s hood exits) as an intermediary from the muffler to the new tips. I wanted to make sure these could be seen from behind the car rather than hidden underneath it, so it needed to be fit properly under the bumper.
This means that little intermediary pipe ended up needing some bending – it’s a really tight fit and probably too close for comfort in real cars, but that’s okay because models.
I always really liked the style of having a plaque-style badge on a front mesh grille (I have it on my own car), and while Fujimi gave you some nice mini Mugen plaque badge decals, I had to cut a tiny piece of pla-plate and paint it silver to actually make the badge itself and glue it to the grille.
Finally fitting the wheels. I’m happy enough with the tires – they’re just a bit too thin but the next best thing I had on hand was significantly fatter, so these will work. The offset is atrocious though – we need to push them out quite a bit.
Aluminum pipe glued in to act as spacers.
Not going for mexiflush poke, despite what it looks like – I had to tinker with the spacers a bit to get a nice flush look.
Not an exact replica of the car I chose to base it off of, but I like to think it’s pretty close. The gray I chose for the body color looks a lot bluer here as well, but that’s mostly a result of the different ambient lighting.
Looks a lot closer here.
I didn’t really realize how ostentatious the orange interior I chose would look, but I guess it’s exacerbated by me choosing to not tint the front windows.
I tried to stay accurate to the sponsor stickers Joshwa had on his CR-Z, but ultimately decided to go for looks over faithfulness.
His original lineup ran Cusco, Mugen, Spoon, and Yokohama – and while I did have Cusco and Yokohama decals, I either messed up and destroyed them while I was trying to apply them, or they just didn’t look right with the rest.
Joshwa’s car also had a giant WRAPARMOR decal that ran along the sides from the rear quarter panel to the door, but I personally didn’t dig that look much – I also obviously didn’t have a specific decal saying wraparmor, though I could’ve replicated the general look with something else.
The CR-Z’s rear is really a confounding story – at certain angles it looks like a fatter Prius rear end, but at others it almost looks like a sleek hot hatch silhouette.
Note the gigantic front and rear bumper seams where they meet the front and rear fender panels. They fit fine before paint but when I tried to get them on after the surface was finished they ended up resisting quite a bit.
The fitment is mostly nice and flush, but the front wheels can poke a bit more sometimes and look wonky thanks to the moving suspension and parts going out of alignment when you move the wheels a bit.
I guess one major point of failure when it comes to making this an accurate recreation of Joshwa’s car is the fact that this is wrong-hand-drive. Plus, U.S.-spec CR-Z’s never got back seats, while this one does indeed have them (although, it looks like they literally just pulled the seat cushions out of the U.S.-spec cars so you still get the seat shape and everything back there, there are just hollow cubbies where seats would normally go).
That exhaust tip sits precariously low – it probably would’ve been better to make a cutout in the diffuser to fit it, but we ain’t no bitches out here.
Underbody was slightly drybrushed silver because you know we scrape.
After the roller coaster of an R34 I built just before this, it’s really nice to have something relatively simple built fast and dirty out of the box, without worrying about crazy resin parts fitment or wheels that weren’t meant for the car. Not my cleanest Honda, but still a cool-looking hatch to add to the lineup of coupes so far.