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Honda CR-Z Tuning Guide & Best Mods

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Table of Contents


The Honda CR-Z, with its distinctive fusion of style and efficiency, carved an impressive niche for itself in the automotive world.

Debuting in 2010, the Honda CR-Z was introduced to the global automotive market as a sporty, hybrid electric vehicle.

Inspired by the iconic CR-X from the 1980s, Honda aimed to reinvent the idea of sporty compact cars, blending a contemporary, high-tech, hybrid powertrain with a pleasing, agile riding experience.

In this article we’ll go over all the best ways to modify and upgrade your CR-Z.

We’ll go over the most proven ways to increase performance as well as improve the looks of the CR-Z to make it look even sportier and unique. 

Let’s jump right in and first take a look at performance upgrades.

Performance Exhaust

The standard exhaust on the CR-Z is quite muted from the factory, and as such doesn’t produce much of a sound when you’ve got the foot down. For many enthusiasts this can be frustrating. 

An aftermarket performance can change this.

One of the most immediately noticeable benefits of a performance exhaust system is the significant improvement in the sound profile of the CR-Z.

A performance exhaust gives the CR-Z a deeper, more aggressive exhaust note, making the car sound sportier and more robust.

Switching to a performance exhaust can also unlock some extra power, although the noticeable differences in this particular car will be small. 

Additionally, aftermarket exhausts tend to weigh less than the standard exhaust so you’ll also be saving some weight which we all know helps various aspects of performance.

Cold Air Intake

A higher-performance air intake can provide an increase in airflow to the engine compared to the standard intake system.

Performance air intakes enable the engine to breathe cold air – denser and packed with more oxygen for burning fuel. This is where cold air intakes get their name from. 

While the power increase won’t be massive, many owners do report a lovely noticeable improvement in throttle response which is ideal for daily driving such as overtaking or merging onto the motorway.

Additionally, you can also get a nice deeper growl when you’re on the gas to compliment the CR-Z’s sporty characteristics. Combine this with an aftermarket exhaust and it can sound particularly sweet.

When it comes to intakes on the CR-Z, you generally have the option of a short ram intake or a cold air intake.

The short ram intakes sit higher up in the engine bay next to the engine, and as such aren’t as protected from the heat of the engine. Ideally get one with a heat shield.

The cold air intakes tend to have the piping and filter routed away from the engine down towards the front of the bumper.

This helps draw in cooler air for better performance however you need to be mindful of it’s position if you drive in environments with deep puddles as you don’t want water getting drawn in!

As an alternative to these intake systems, you can also simply replace the standard paper filter with an aftermarket K&N filter. These filters are more durable and manufactured for increased performance. 

They simply slot in place of the standard paper filter inside the stock airbox and are a nice cheap alternative to replacing the entire factory intake system. 

K&N Air Filter

Honda CR-Z


A remap is a simple way to gain additional power and torque across the rev range by altering the parameter of the ECU. When having your CR-Z remapped, always try to find a tuner that will do a custom remap on a rolling road/dyno. This will produce the best results as it will be tailored to your car. 

A remap is also a great way to get the most out of other performance mods you have on the car such as an exhaust and intake. A remap can alter the ECU parameters to make the most of these modifications. 

How much power will you gain from a remap alone?

On the CR-Z, not an awful lot compared to many other cars!

Due to the naturally aspirated nature of the engine, power gains won’t be as prominent as they would typically be with other cars with turbochargers. 

With a healthy engine, you can expect to see +10bhp from a remap along with improved throttle response across the rev range which can improve the driveability of the car. 

You should be able to squeeze more even power out of a remap if you have other supporting mods mentioned earlier such as an exhaust or intake. 


Coilovers are a fantastic way to improve both the look and performance of your CR-Z.

Combining the spring and shock absorber into one single unit, coilovers allow you to lower your ride height and adjust the suspension for more performance-orientated driving. 

Unlike lowering springs which are set at a fixed height, coilovers allow you to adjust your ride height to your preferences. 

Depending upon the type of coilovers, you can adjust various suspension parameters like ride damping and spring preload. This allows you to fine-tune your CR-Z’s suspension according to different driving conditions.

Choosing the right set of coilovers is crucial for reaping the full benefits of this modification.

Consider your driving needs before rushing to buy a set.

Is it primarily just for the visual benefits to lower the car? Is it to increase handling on the corners? Or maybe both?

For daily driving conditions where you aren’t concerned too much about tackling tight corners, a softer spring setup would be more comfortable. For track use, stiffer springs can provide better performance.

If you are planning to track your CR-Z or are wanting to improve the handling performance as much as possible, try to get a set of coilovers that allow for maximum adjustment.

When lowering, it’s important to consider additional stress on other components and changes to your car’s geometry. 

Going too low can negatively affect the handling as well as put excessive wear on components like the tie bars and CV joints. 

Then of course there is also the issue of ground clearance. How much of an issue this is will also depend on the conditions of the roads where you drive. The last thing you want is your CR-Z bottoming out and damaging the underside of the car.

You can get high quality coilover sets for your CR-Z from BC Racing and Tein below.

BC Racing Coilovers

Honda CR-Z

Tein Flex Z Coilovers

Honda CR-Z

Body Kit

The Honda CR-Z boasts an eye-catching design ideally suited for aftermarket body modifications. It’s sporty shape and lines make  a great base for adding some bold body kit elements. 

A body kit for the Honda CR-Z typically includes a variety of components, such as front and rear bumpers, side skirts and a rear spoiler. These elements work together to impart an aggressive and sporty aerodynamic appearance.

Most quality body kits are crafted to fit the CRZ’s existing lines, accentuating its curves and making it look lower and wider for a ground-hugging, race-inspired vibe.

While some body kits come with components for the whole car, you can buy them individually as well. 

For example, you can start with a front splitter like or a rear spoiler and then add to it as you go along. 

You can buy these individually then add other body kit components as you go. Check out some of these options at the bottom of this section.

Most body kit components come unpainted so they will need to be painted to match the colour of your CR-Z. A body shop will likely be required for this unless you are able to paint match the components yourself. There is also the option of leaving them unpainted if they come in black or in a carbon fibre finish if you want to create some contrast between the body kit elements and the body of the car.

Rear Spoiler

Honda CR-Z

Front Splitter

Honda CR-Z

Painted Brake Calipers

A painted brake caliper can peek through the spokes of your wheels, flaunting a pop of colour that adds dimension and depth to your CRZ’s aesthetics.

If you have some other coloured accenting going on then brake calipers can be a great way to add to this and create some contrast with the body colour of the car. 

Red and yellow are common colours that add an extra sporty and bright visual to the wheel area. 

When choosing paint, it’s important to go for high temperature brake caliper paint available on eBay that is manufactured to withstand the high temperatures that brakes produce. Normal paint will simply flake off once the brakes are up to operating temperature. 

One of the most important things to remember when painting brake calipers is that the key to a good finish is in the prep stage. Ensuring the calipers are free from dust and rust and ready to paint is essential. 

Before starting, you will want the following items:

  • Brake cleaner
  • Wirebrush
  • Masking tape/plastic sheeting
  • High temperature brake caliper paint
  • Paintbrush or spray can
  • Jack and jack stands

Wheel Spacers

Wheel spacers are a cost effective and simple mod that can make a big differences to the stance of your CR-Z.

Wheel spacers push your car’s wheels further away from the hub, allowing them to be flush or slightly protruding from the body. This leads to a wider stance and gives your car a more muscular, aggressive appearance.

If you are wanting to fit certain aftermarket wheels then wheel spacers may be essential to ensure proper fitment.

Many aftermarket wheels will have a different offset from that off the CR-Z which is between 43mm to 47mm.  This can allow you to accommodate a more bolder wheel choice.

You can get 30mm wheel spacers for the CR-Z  below which will push the wheels out nicely. 

30mm Wheel Spacers

Honda CR-Z

Upgraded Anti-Roll Bars

Anti-roll bars, also known as sway bars, are crucial elements in the suspension system designed to reduce vehicle body roll during cornering.

A stiffer anti-roll bar tends to reduce body roll when cornering. This means there will be less lean when turning, resulting in better control and overall improved handling of your CR-Z.

This mod is ideal for those of you who like to tackle windy back roads at speed or participate in track days. If you’re looking to improve handling, this should be one of the first mods on your list.

Some aftermarket anti-roll bars are also adjustable, meaning you can tweak the stiffness settings to suit your car’s setup and driving needs. 

The Whiteline anti-roll bars are 4 point adjustable meaning you can play with the stiffness to find the sweet spot.

You can buy aftermarket anti-roll bar’s for both the front and rear of the car. 

The most common upgrade among owners is to upgrade and stiffen the rear anti-roll bar to reduce the understeer that is infamous among front wheel drive cars like the CR-Z.

Interior Mods

We’ve spoke about upgrading the performance and customising the exterior, but what about the place where you spend your time driving?

It’s time to talk interior mods.

Interior mods are a great way to start modifying and upgrading your CR-Z due to their affordability and ease of installation, meaning you can often fit many of them yourself.

Let’s take a quick look at a few ideas.

Custom Steering Covers

Upgrading your seats with custom covers is a perfect way to add some personality to your CR-Z’s interior. You can get seat covers in a variety of fabrics and styles to match whatever colour scheme you have going. 

Steering Wheel Upgrade

There are a few different things you can do to enhance the steering wheel on the car. One simple one is to get a steering wheel cover which simply wraps around the standard steering wheel. These look great and can provide enhanced grip and a nicer feel.

You can also opt to have your steering wheel customised by a company that specialise in this. These companies can offer carbon fibre skinned steering wheels as well as modifying it to a flat bottom style.

If you want to go all out for the race look, then you can also fit an aftermarket steering wheel from a manufacturer like Momo. These steering wheels are made for performance focused driving and offer excellent levels of grip and manoeuvrability. 

Shift Knob Upgrade

Upgrading the shift knob is a small but highly effective change that not only looks great, but provides a much nicer feel when rowing through the gears. This mod obviously only applies to those who own a manual version of the CR-Z and not CVT owners. 

You can get a weighted shift knob that allow for smoother and more accurate shifting, helping you fly through the gears with confidence. 

Aluminium Sport Pedals

Adding aluminium sport pedals not only gives your CR-Z a performance-oriented look but also improves grip and control during spirited driving.

Quality options come from Mugen, who offer pedals with additional grip support for your feet and the ability to perform heel-toe downshifts easier. 

Finishing Thoughts

We hope this guide gave you some inspiration and some ideas for your next modifications for your CR-Z.

With this car, your options for increasing the power drastically are limited without going down the route of forced induction which requires a lot of work and money. 

A remap, intake and exhaust will give the majority of power gains you can achieve without spending massive money.

It isn’t all about straight line speed though, and you may find more enjoyment through handling mods such as a stiffer rear anti roll bar and coilovers. 

Aside from performance, there are a variety of cosmetic modifications you can do to improve the already great looks of the car.

Have a think about what you want from CR-Z and then budget ahead accordingly, there are many great options out there.

Happy modding!