2011 Honda CR-Z Design Critique: It’s all about motion

6 Jul 2010 | 4,528 views | No Comment
 One thing’s for sure---the all-new CR-Z is turning heads wherever it’s seen.  During  test drives made by Automobile Journal staffers, we all noticed it. Students stopping in their tracks and giving the “thumbs up“ signal.  A couple driving a BMW who motioned for us to roll down the window and said, “Cool! That’s the first one we’ve seen.” Truck drivers rushing to pull aside us and yell,” What is it?” One guy almost dropped a sofa he was loading onto his U-Haul trying to get a better look at it.     So what does this ground-breaking design project?      Intense, muscled energy. It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a 300 horsepower engine under the hood.  It looks like it goes like hell--and when you  consider how important style has become in closing car sales, that may well be all the CR-Z needs to skyrocket up the sales charts. Not that it doesn’t have plenty else to recommend it-- it does. But if your eye doesn’t “buy” it when it comes to a car’s looks, it doesn’t much matter what else it has.  And yes, it does have the overall sense--not necessarily the individual design  character lines--of the fabled CRX. Honda officials say they weren’t aiming to simply update the CRX design; they wanted something fresh. But they  do say that the design team couldn’t help but be at least partly by the older model.  Honda’s presentation on the CR-Z suggested that terms like “flash and high density,”  “powerful mass,” and “dynamism” describe what they were aiming for with the car. And inside, they wanted the new car to have a “smart cockpit,” with a “floating upper pad,” an “advanced sport meter cluster,” and a “smart sport seat” when designing the interior. Viewed from the side, the CR-Z looks like a dart or wedge with deep character lines to give it a sense of drama and motion.   There are strongly flared wheel arches, tires that are pushed out to the corners of the car,  and plenty of glass for an overall sense of airiness.  The rear end may look a bit blocky to some, but to us, the rear end represents a  going away signature, and it has to have some drama and uniqueness to leave an impression in the minds of those who catch that rearward glimpse. Speaking of rearward glimpses, the CR-Z does have the divided rear hatch window that was used on the Accord Crosstour and several other models of cars past and present. It takes some getting used to, and in combination with the small side rear windows, changing lanes and parking will take some extra effort until you get used to it. Still, overall, the car has a sense of muscled intensity, and purposeful performance that should serve it well in the sales market. Inside, the dashboard clearly carries the message that  this is a car designed for movement even when standing still. The gauges , which have a striking allegoric blue color to them that almost looks like neon, have a sense of depth to them, as though they will suck you in as you’re driving along. There’s a three dimensional meter that has an illumination ring which conveys how economically you’re driving through the use of color changes from green to blue, or red, if you’re driving in the sport mode.  Blue means you’re driving less effici8cently, green means just the opposite. By the way, there is an “Eco Scoring” system which takes the previous two trips you’ve made and one you’re now engaged in, and comes up with a certain number of leaves to indicate how economically you’re driving. The more leaves, the better.

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