By on January 11, 2010

lost in translation

Ok, it’s not exactly a new phenomena: car company shows a low and slick concept, and the final product looks like an obese baby seal. We took GM to task with its Volt bait-and-switch routine. And now we take on Honda, although probably not quite so ferociously; given that the gap between the CR-Z concept and production version is a tad bit narrower than the Volt Grand (Lie) Canyon. But the Volt was always intended to be a four-seater; not the CR-Z. Therein lies the Honda lie: it’s ok to just chop off the back of a sedan and call it…not good.

a little front heavy and just plain heavy

the cr-z's design inspiration?

The problem in both cases is one word: cowl; as in cowl height. There is no doubt in my mind that the CR-Z is essentially a shortened Insight, forced to share the same hard points (key chassis/body structure elements) as its bigger sedan brother. Blank out the CR-Z from the cowl back, and imagine an Insight body instead. All of a sudden, that big bulbous front end makes (some) sense. The problem is that the CR-Z is trying to be a sporty little coupe like its (almost) namesake, the immortal CR-X. Well, I’m not sure if the CR-X had to the Civic’s cowl structure or not, but if it did, Civic front ends back in the day were a hell of a lot lower than they are today, thanks to the double-wishbone front suspension and a different styling ethos at the time.

Update: Profile pictures also show the extreme front overhang in relation to the rest of the car. And specs reveal that the CR-Z weighs exactly 24 pounds less than the substantially longer Insight (CR-Z: 2720 lbs; Insight: 2744 lbs)

the good old low cowl days

But trying to force the Insight’s W. C. Fields schnoz on the front of a sporty little two seater just doesn’t cut it. Either spend the money to drop the cowl and build a proper sporty car, or…don’t. The whole question of what the CR-Z is trying to be, a sporty hybrid with mediocre fuel economy, or a hybrid sports car with mediocre performance is unfortunately as confused as its marriage of a sedan front end with a sports car middle. The result is a hybrid of a different sort; a mish-mash of styles and performance goals that reminds me painfully of another car with a similar problem: the Gremlin or the AMC Spirit/Eagle Coupe. Trying to serve too many masters, or being too cheap to do it right is not a recipe for success.

conflicting goals and limited resources at work

Or the Ford EXP, which suffered the same high-cowl problem (shared with the Escort) as the CR-Z. Note the black-out paint on the bottom of the side windows, to try to make them look deeper then the actually were, just like the Volt.

ford_exp_red_1985_c

2011 Chevrolet Volt Production Show Car

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94 Comments on “Why The Honda CR-Z Is So Ugly And Should Never Have Been Built...”


  • avatar
    twotone

    Looks like a pregnant guppy gulping for air.
    Twotone

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Give me the performance stats and the price and I’d think about a CR-X as a commuter.  Other wise my gut says give me the SX/4!  It would be a fun restoration project (I mean how one would look now not how it looks in the dealer brochure picture.)

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @educatordan, my gut and your gut are in agreement. Go with the SX/4. Only this time, we swap in a LS1, lower it a little bit, and use the 4WD to your advantage. Kind of like a mashup of the SX/4 and the 79 AMX. Woo-hoo!

  • avatar
    ajla

    However, it is worth noting that recent Hondas and Acuras have the best “ugliness per liter” measurement of any automotive company.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Why are so many automakers going for massive front grill openings these days? They certainly don’t help aerodynamics and look stupid. Personally I like the clean “bottom feeder” looks of the old CR-X, the Mark 3 version Passat (http://www.autoevolution.com/images/gallery/medium/VOLKSWAGENPassat-medium-2449_2.jpg )and even the original Taurus. Clean and sleek beats monster snout every time.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Damage

      It’s just a guess, but bigger or higher output engines have greater cooling needs. More power = more heat. That’s one thing that clever engineering can’t solve. So air intakes have to get bigger. And with so many models sharing platforms, a big distinctive grille is great for showing what brand you are.

    • 0 avatar

      Pedestrian safety regs from Europe dictate higher hoods and blunt noses.  Big grilles help fill in the larger void stylistically.  Crude, but it is what it is.
      And BTW, I always thought the 3rd gen Passat looked a bit cheap and ugly.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Why are so many automakers going for massive front grill openings these days?
       
      Because they’ve made the logos so damn big the grille has to upsize out of self-defense.
       
      In marketing, everyone wants to be Apple, or at least wants their logo to be as instantly recognizable.  The easy way to do this (without working, taking risks, etc, etc) is to just make your logo bigger.  If you look, you’ll see exactly how prevalent the “make the logo bigger” disease has gotten; it’s to the point where products are being designed around logo placement.
       
      It’s all part of an ethos of, well, peacockery: get yourself noticed at all costs.  Which is funny, because if Apple’s design has anything going for it, it’s subtlety and class.  In automobilia, Hyundai seems to be the only one bucking the trend.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Damage; that’s not the reason, for sure. As engines become more efficient, less of their power is converted to heat. And being a hybrid only adds to the efficiency. It’s easy to bring in plenty of air from underneath’ like Honda did with the old CR-X.
      One of the real reasons is because of European pedestrian safety regs; there has to be several inches of free crush space between the top of the engine and the hood. Works sort-of on sedans, but not sports cars. Why do you think Toyota is using the flat four Subaru boxer in their FT 86 coupe? The boxer allows a low hood line as well as meeting the pedestrian regs.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Agreed.  The Ford Edsel, Audi Q7 (but really all of Audi’s recent design language), and Dodge Nitro come to mind as extreme examples of the yawning front ends that make me recoil.
       
      The recent Acura design language doesn’t have much actual opening, but it’s basically Rudolph the Chrome-Nosed Reindeer across the board.  They used to make beautiful cars.
       
      By contrast, the Fiat 500 has it right.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      Amen brother to that!  Another “grilleless” car was the restyled Crown Vic for ’92.  That lasted only a year before Ford was forced to graft on a silly little grille.

    • 0 avatar
      Martin Schwoerer

      It’s not only EU pedestrian protection regulations that are causing roundish front hoods; it’s also those in Japan and in Korea. China is set to follow suit.
      When you analyse the shape of something and try to figure out whether its form is following its function, it helps to look at the task at hand. Reminiscing about the 1980s and 1990s isn’t good enough.
      What I’d be interested in is seeing which present-day cars both get good pedestrian-protection ratings at Euro-NCAP and J-NCAP, and still look pretty. There’s always the Jaguar and Citroen examples, but they use expensive pop-up hoods.

    • 0 avatar
      xyzyx

      and don’t forget the original Infiniti Q45…
      http://www.edmunds.com/infiniti/q45/1991/index.html

  • avatar

    P.N;  You are the first writer I have seen to finally addess the cowl issue.  Good for you for ranting about this.
    It’s all about the cowl with automakers.  Share the cowl with as many models for as many years as possible.  Want to know why windshields are so cheap (comparitively)?  Look at the salvage yards interchange manuals. 
    Probably the worse abuse of cowl amortization was the Chrysler K platform.  That ran from the first Plymouth Reliant to the last Imperial and just about every FWD car in between.
    I’m sick of manufacturers tauting an “all new model” when it’s a reskin.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Not only is it ugly, it gets stupid low mpg, according to early reports.
     
    Simply pointless.

  • avatar
    Seth L

    Yup, it’s all Europe’s fault. How do exotics  get away with building swoopy cars, and everyone else gets stuck with Urkle-high beltlines and cowels?
    That said, I kinda like the way the CR-Z looks in pictures.

    • 0 avatar
      Libertyman03

      My guess would have to do the number of cars being built. One of these little abominations will be one of many thousands, while something from Ferrari will be limited in it’s numbers. Since it’s less likely that a poor defenseless pedestrian will be hit by a Ferrari, they don’t have to follow the same rules.

    • 0 avatar
      mistrernee

      With the mid engined cars I’d imagine that pedestrian safety regs are a lot easier to meet.
      For the front engined sport cars?  Maybe a V engine can sit lower than a transverse straight 4.. add in dry sump and you have a lot of room to work with.
       
      I just test drove an RX8, you could fit a small child under the hood of one of those.

    • 0 avatar
      mistrernee

      Also, anything front drive has a transmission and axles sharing a space with the engine… there is a lot of crap in one little space in a fwd car.

      The only solution is V and flat engines and RWD…

      ONLY solution.

      Maybe Wankels.

  • avatar
    segfault

    I think the Civic and second-gen CR-X were identical from the dashboard forward.  Back in the day, that black dot at the top of the A-pillar was where the optional radio antenna went (the antenna, radio and speakers were dealer-installed accessories).

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I know why…. Peter was tossing the football around and hit it right on the nose.  Those Brady kids gotta be more careful.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Suffers from Aztek syndrome: Concept: Attractive, Production Model: Not So Much.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Paul, if I recall correctly, the ’57-’58 Buick, Olds, and Cadillac all had their windshield bases at a noticeably  higher level than their beltlines.  The more things change…

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    They managed to take enough of the crispness out of the prototype’s lines to end up with a far inferior looking car. Between the middling mileage, so so styling and the probable low $20k price I’d say they’ve got another Insight flop on their hands. I don’t see this car being priced in the $17k-$18k range which is where I think it needs to be to sell. Too bad Honda, you could have had a winner.

  • avatar
    Garak

    That’s how most future cars will look, unless some engineering miracle is made. Pedestrian safety requires some space between the bonnet and the engine – and you need that to get five EuroNCAP stars.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    The volt went from ‘cool’ to boring. The CR-Z went from cool, to ugly. IMHO thats a huge difference.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I’m not yet sure that I agree, but a big THANK YOU for discussing a car’s styling rationally – pointing out why you think the design doesn’t work – rather than just coming up with creative insults.  I would love discussing design with people if it was more like this.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Personally I don’t find it hideous, but not great looking either.  Then again, I never really cared for the original CR-X.

    EDIT:

    The more I look at it, I think it really does capture the essence of the original, just more rounded. I like big grills, and the recent Audis with the huge shield-like grills are some of the best looking luxury cars IMO. I see the roundedness of this more as an evolution of Japanese car styling rather than big-grill-itis though.

    For years, Japanese styling was defined by clean taut lines and a minimum of fussy frills and brightwork. Now American cars such as the Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion are taking a page from the old Camry/Accord playbook (with some changes, natch, such as the abundance of chrome) while the Japanese companies are starting to revert to more bulbous and curvy designs, such as this or the current Camry, that remind me a lot of late 90s – early 00s Ford Tauri and Chrysler sedans.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    I agree about the ugly cowl, but keep going! The rear, especially from an angle, is an improvement over….no car in memory, except perhaps a Pontiac Aztec.  And even there its a toss up.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    It’s really sad to think that this is the one manual transmission hybrid that will be available on the market.

    Honda could have just made an Insight “Si” with an uprated suspension and brakes and an available manual, not even the larger engine.  It would have been a much better car, and a much better selling car.

    Then again, fwd two seat coupes have always been a recipe for success.  Who can forget the Ford EXP. 

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Perhaps, but nobody ever forgets the LN7… (full disclosure:  actually, I could no longer remember the name and had to check to see if the Mercury’s EXP clone actually existed…)

  • avatar
    NoChryslers

    That’s not a Spirit, that is an Eagle SX4.  But still.  No one seemed to notice how the Civic was similar in profile to the Spirit Liftback and Kammback back in the 90s.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    Simply put, the CR-Z is fugly…the styling of the CR-X is vastly superior.  To borrow a line, the grill opening looks like a window air conditioner.  On today’s cars I’m frankly getting tired of the high cowl height and the tiny windows which in my opinion are a definite safety hazard.  I miss the old days in the 80’s when Hondas were vastly better looking automobiles.  A little bland perhaps, but their appearance, in my opinion, was vastly better than todays offerings.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Well, it looks like the price of my 1st gen Insight just went up by several hundred dollars.
    Now give $14o per barrel gas and a stunning lack of used hybrids, and I may just be able to off the repairs on the Civic hybrid.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Ugh. This car is a huge disappointment, in that I fantasized about a genuine CRX replacement but always knew this is what it would be kind of way.  The translation from concept to production has all of the usual changes but they collectively destroyed the styling.  I agree that the high cowl is the culprit, with roundness following close behind.  Still, that would be forgivable if it came without the hybrid system and was an actually efficient and fun small car.

  • avatar

    Hey Paul, on the line of “Why the ______ Is So Ugly and Should Never Have Been Built”, when are you guys going to report on Edmunds saying the Nissan Murano Convertible really is going to get built?
    http://blogs.insideline.com/straightline/2010/01/nissan-murano-convertible-is-still-on—-2010-detroit-auto-show.html#comments

    Is there really a God, mommy?

  • avatar
    cory02

    Food advertising comes to mind:  looks mouth-watering on the package/commercial but the real thing turns out to be barely edible

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Exactly – like the pasta/soup thing I ate the other day. It was okay but tiny. The example int he commercial was at least 4 times larger. Time for another sandwich or leftovers.

  • avatar
    cpmanx

    Personally I don’t mind the design so much–it has a certain guppy-ish charm to my eye. But I completely agree about the madness of the current high-beltline craze. I understand that European pedestrian-safety regs require a high hood (making it hard to avoid a blunt face), but it would be simple to start the side beltline below the base of the windshield. In fact, this very CR-Z does just that. BUT–then the beltline rushes upward toward the c-pillar. That is purely a styling tic, so far as I know, one that make for bad visibility, a dark exterior, and (by general consensus) an unattractive design. A bad move all around.
     
    The AMC Eagle SX/4, on the other hand, has aged remarkably well. In fact, you might notice that it looks suspiciously like the styling inspiration for the BMW X6. The old AMC designers must be shaking their heads in amazement that their long-derided designs are now mainstream parts of the design vocabulary. Everything from the Nissan Murano to the Mazda 3 mimics that triangular c-pillar swoop from the old Gremlin…

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I agree with you about the SX/4 being a predictor of things to come. Who would have imagined. My point about it is more in the compromises it made to try to do so many things, but then that’s what were seeing again now. Cars Like the Hondas of the eighties were so uncompromising in their vision and execution. I suspect it’s all cyclical, and that someday we’ll be imitating them again.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Always thought the Eagle, esp the SX/4 as pictured, is was a cool and unique car … these presaged, arguably, the first CUV’s as well as the DNA model for the Audi Quattro system.

      Mr. Leeper, AMC AWD engineering manager parked Eagles (and Jeeps) in his driveway… next to him was Mr. Love, Chrysler Chief Engineer, who had to satisfy himself with parking aging M-bodies, or one of the endless variants of the K-body, or a minivan in his drive … I prefered looking at Mr. Leeper’s drive, but not nearly as much as looking in the garage of Mr. Leeper’s lawyer neighbor on the other side who had a blue E-type and a blue Comet Calliente cabrio in the garage, and a new M-B 190 in the driveway… 

    • 0 avatar
      poltergeist

      The high belt line tends to improve side impact crash testing ratings, so I think it’s all we’ll see from now on.  Form follows function in most people’s minds.

  • avatar

    I want to like it because it’s almost not ugly.  But it’s appearance off and it’s purpose is muddled.  So I don’t.

  • avatar

    My even bigger gripe with the CR-whatever it is is that Honda does really well making pure ICE very efficient. Their sporty cars should remain pure. And they did light so well, and now they produce all these porker Acuras. Another problem with the CR-whateveritis is that there isn’t going to be any visibility out the back. Hey, lets compromise driveability with a squinty greenhouse just so the car can look like an awesomely slick somethihng-or-other. No! Give me visibility or give me an old Forester! (with apologies to Patrick Henry).

  • avatar
    lawstud

    “product looks like an obese baby seal”
    Funniest thing I’ve read all day.

  • avatar
    Libertyman03

    Over at CarandDriver.com they have a picture of this CR-Z (dumb name) in profile. The combination of the VERY high hood and the truly excessive front overhang is hideous. It makes me think of this thing: http://www.supercars.net/carpics/3603/1769_Cugnot_SteamTractor3.jpg
    Seriously, wow. Whatever happened to classic proportions?

  • avatar
    PG

    “Why the CR-Z is so ugly and should never have been built”
    Yes, Paul, but what do you REALLY think? ;)
    I don’t think it looks too bad compared to the concept, but, this car reeks of having been designed by a marketing team or a focus group. “I know, let’s make it a hybrid! People always fall for faux-green cars!”

  • avatar
    Areitu

    I don’t get it. 37 mpg is terrible? It’s marginally lighter than an insight, so it’s overweight? US pricing isn’t out and it’s overpriced? Nobody’s driven it and it’s already terrible? It has a front overhang and a high cowl, so it’s ugly? (Nobody ever complained about Audi’s overhang).  It’s not a CRX so it’s no good? There’s no satisfying some people. If it drives anything like a Fit, I would be plenty satisfied.
    The car looks largely the same as the concept to me, and a far more faithful translation to production than the Volt, Sebring, or Crossfire, softened up for production and minor styling details changed. I don’t see what the big deal is.
    With regards to cowl height, I see just fine out of any modern honda with the allegedly too-high cowl. I’ve driven cars with lower cowls with far worse visibility.

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      So you’re cool with paying $7,000 extra for a heavier Fit with a few extra mpgs.  They’ve already said that this would slot above the Insight on pricing, so it will be at least 20k, and it’s sounding like it’s going to be closer to 22 or 23.  And yes, 37 is terrible for a hybrid.  A Mini Cooper gets that without a hybrid system.

    • 0 avatar
      MrDot

      Consumers have repeatedly proven that they’re only going to pay the hybrid premium when it nets them a considerable improvement in economy with a minimum of compromise, and enthusiasts shopping for two-seat sport coupes aren’t going to care about a few mpg’s or pounds of saved carbon.  This car is a total mess- it’s not a fuel miser because it tries to be a sports car.  It’s not a sports car because it tries to be a hybrid.  And it isn’t practical because it’s small and has only two seats.

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      There’s nothing wrong with a hybrid sports car, especially an expensive one.  That is, the hybrid premium is as little as two grand.  If a sports car cost sixty grand and sells, a hybrid version costing sixty two grand will also sell, and probably sell well, simply for bragging rights.  (There are other benefits of a hybrid other than just high mileage-extended range, quieter, more reliabile-can turn a pure sports car into a daily driver.)

      Now, the CR-Z ain’t what I’m talking about, of course…

  • avatar
    V6

    that overhang is just utterly ridiculous

  • avatar
    aamj50

    Such a dissapointment! I owned a CR-X just like the one in the story (except I painted the lowers white) and it was really a fantastic car. Sporty, light and not as slow as power figures would suggest. I also routinely got 50mpg on highway trips.
    The overhang on the CR-Z (should have called it the CR-why) reminds me of the CC you did on the 80’s Buick Riviera where they just kept adding front end to the existing car.

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    Fire the Honda product planners and design team. 

    Another blunder to hit the dealer showroom we now see upon us.  What does Honda stand for anymore? What happened to clean styling that will still look good a decade later? What happened to industry leading MPG? What happened to industry leading HP per Liter? What happened to industry leading light weight and good handling?  Add this up to not so great service issues on some key products lately and man…..these Honda folks need to wake up.
    I’d rather have a 2nd gen CRX Si than this bloated guppy.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Yet another example of Honda half-assing it. I’m starting to think they really don’t have the budget to pursue every little niche. That being said, they should have found the budget with THIS car in particular, even if they never expect to make money on it. This is just a manual Insight, slightly ruined (good on them for the manual hybrid though).

    A sporty hybrid Honda needs to utilitze the (excellent) Civic Si engine and feed in electric assist as a supercharger alternative. There really isn’t another way, looking at what they have available. They can make the car ugly, fine, but at least make sure to showcase actual performance technology if the milage isn’t going to be any better than the Fit’s. Speaking of the Fit, I don’t see how this is going to be significantly sportier than Honda’s own minivan subcompact. It can’t possibly be stiffer than the Fit sport, and the extra weight will do a lot to hide any propulsion benefits from the hybrid system and will surely dial down the subjective handling enjoyment. Sure, it’ll have a lower center of gravity, but that’s not really a good thing if it’s acheived by simply adding mass.

    On a side note, does this mean no 6-speed for future Fit’s? I could easily see a stop-start equipped Fit with an extra gear handily beating Honda’s hybrid milage. Please don’t get all German about protecting your hybrid models Honda.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    It’s bad enough they’ve allowed rogue summer interns to take over styling, but now the engineers are under-delivering.
    Never thought I’d see Honda stumble this badly.  Maybe they can hire Lutz after he retires from GM again.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Parallel parking or anything other activity requiring rearward vision should be a delight in this vehicle. Why has being able to see out of the vehicle you are driving gone out of fashion? Another stunned design.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    There are a couple good solutions to the engine/cowl height problem.

    The first thing you have to get rid of is the shock towers. A McPherson strut is clearly the wrong solution here as the top mount has to be very stiff and very high in order to get decent wheel travel. What you need instead is a torsion bar/rotary damper, transverse leaf, or pullrod setup, with upper and lower a-arms for the kinematic mechanism.

    The next thing that has to go back or down is the engine/gearbox assembly. The M100 Lotus Elan had the driveshafts and diff mounted in front of the engine; this allows the engine to be further back in the chassis. You could also build a flat/boxer or pancake engine but that requires a longitudinal setup. The right thing to do here is to put the engine behind the cabin, which has many additional advantages, not least that you can keep the inexpensive, light, energy-efficient transverse layout.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    Wow, I think that so far almost everyone here is right.  The car is certainly ugly, and from every angle no less.
    The CR-X that you show was essentially one of the best cars Honda has ever made.  Comparisons are almost unfair!
    The fact that there needs to be “crush space” for pedestrians is unfortunate (for designs anyway) but it is a reality.  Honda has forever been known for it’s innovation and technology.  So, why not work on moving the motor?  Tilting it one way or another?  Somehow lowering it?  Making the block smaller?  Dry sump?  I remember looking under the hoods of those CR-X and at least perceiving that the top of the motor was tilted towards the firewall to account for the low hood.  All I am saying is that they probably could develop new technology to get over this but it would be expensive.
     

  • avatar
    geozinger

    BTW,  the Ford EXP shown in the picture is a 1986 and later 2nd gen model, the first gen was even scarier looking. In 1983, my wife and I looked at an LN7 for her, but it was just as much to buy one of those as it was to buy a Turbo Mustang or a stripper 5.0 Liter, so we went with the 5.0 Mustang. It was no wonder why those cars never sold.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    The hood on this car reminds me of the Malibu Maxx. The pedestrian safety thing again? Was the Maxx an Opel body sold as a Chevy?
    The original CR-X was LIGHT. My ’83 had a 1.3L and got huge mileage up into the mid-40s. The CR-Z is closing in on the weight of my 1st gen CR-V. I like the light CUV but don’t want a HD version of the CR-X. Perhaps I could learn to live with it if it got good mileage as mentioned above.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Why must I drive a hideously disfigured vehicle to protect often careless or inebriated pedestrians from taking responsibility for crossing the street? If you can’t cross a street maybe you haven’t successfully developed an important life skill for living in today’s modern society.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Haha Mickey Kaus says you’re wrong, that means you’re right!
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/kausfiles/archive/2010/01/11/peter-orszag-is-no-gary-hart.aspx

  • avatar
    charliej5

    It must be wonderful to be young and know everything.  I read these comments and I see that if only the manufacturers would build the car that the “best and brightest” want the “best and brightest” would all buy one.  However, the “best and brightest” amount to a very small number of people.  Honda has to sell a lot of cars to survive.  They seem to be doing this.  If the “best and brightest” want a car made to their specification, they need to start a company and build what they want.  Otherwise, quit whining that the manufacturers don’t build what the “best and brightest” want.  I owned a CRX twenty years ago.  It was a very nice car.  Lots of fun.  I will be looking at the CRZ when it comes out.  Will I buy one?  I don’t know, but I won’t be crying about how ugly it is.  It does not look as nice as the concept, but it has to be sold in the real world.

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      The problem is that it doesn’t fit anyone’s specifications.  The fuel economy isn’t good enough for hybrid buyers.  The performance isn’t good enough for people who want sport.  The price isn’t even close to being low enough to make up for these things.  Honda says that they expect to sell these mostly to women.  That’s really the only possible market for this thing.  Basically they’re going after the same crowd that buys the Eclipse, but this being a 2-seater (which I actually like) may be a deal breaker for those gals.

    • 0 avatar
      Areitu

      I side with you on this one. The automotive blogosphere would lead you to believe automotive nirvana is either a turbodiesel hatchback or a RWD Australian car. About selling most of these to women, look no further than the C230 hatchback and 318ti. Most of these are driven by women, in my experience.
      I won’t buy one when it comes out because I already have a car. I would recommend it to my sister though, so I could drive it on occasion.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I don’t think see anyone clamoring for a RWD, diesel, stick shift, hatchback hybrid here. The majority of these criticisms are aimed at the (very ugly) front overhang, which is very similar to that found on the Crosstour, the Fit, etc… It works on a minivan style body, but not on anything else Honda makes. And it is a very ugly element in person, don’t believe the “crosstour looks better in person” testimonials.

      Another criticism is a lack of milage to correspond to the hybrid label and price compromise. When I’m getting mid-30’s (measured both at the pump and on the trip computer) in a Fitsport which costs $17.5k, driven rather hard, where is the accomplishment in acheiving mid to high 30’s in a 2 seat version of essentially that same car? I could go rip out my back seats, add a 6th gear (hypothetically), and remove my rear “wing” to acheive the same or better results.

      And finally, performance…where is it? Honda owns some impressive FWD powertrain and suspension technology, none of which seems to have been applied to their “sporty” hybrid. SO…consider me unimpressed by a car that will cost more than a brand new Civic Si while having none of it’s manic performance and significantly less interior room.

      The only thing they did right here is offering a manual hybrid. What they don’t seem to get is that not all manual buyers want 2-seaters (and from a company that sells a manual only 4-door Civic Si at that). In fact, I live in quite the manual transmission bubble amongst my friends, none of whom own a 2-seat car. Frankly I’d look forward to a manual Prius or Insight, whereas this thing leaves me dissapointed.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    We recently discussed the Datsun F-10, and wondered how a manufacturer could create a beautifully designed 510, then create a hideous 210 and F-10.

    Honda is going through something similar today.

    Hondas are supposed to look like the photo of the CR-X. Honest designs that demonstrate great and simple engineering. Hondas of that era showed how simplicity could create a design statement that gave drivers a sense of solidarity without the weight.

    Now the thing above doesn’t do that. It is not a honest design. Instead of looking simple and solid, it looks complicated and frivolous. The front overhand of this car makes it look ungraceful and obese.
    Honda has been slipping noticably in styling over the past few years. They have allowed themselves to create cars that no longer look strong, simple and clean. The popular CRV mini-ute has a front end design that is downright silly and a C pillar window line that fails to acknowledge the vehicle’s functional profile and just doesn’t belong. The CRV’s rear design is as silly as it’s front end. Whatever it is we recently denounced regarding the Datsun F-10, is being resurrected with this Honda.

    Must be some kind of Japanese cultural thing, like kamikaze.

  • avatar
    zorkor

    The thing with these Toyonda’s is that they still sell like hot cakes no matter what people say against them. They know that people will BUY them no matter what they build. This gives these two giants the confidence to get away with horrible designs…

  • avatar
    tuckerdawg

    i dont know, looks alright to me kinda like one of those old cobra thingy cars

  • avatar

    The CRX got up to 50 mpg 20 years ago with straight ICE, and now this stupid thing gets 37 with a rube goldberg (hybrid). Yeah, yeah, I know, this thing is probably a bit zippier than the CRX and a bit more weighed down by safety stuff ,but Honda’s engines should be a bit better than they were 20 years ago–or enough to compensate for all that.
    I’d be fine with the look if the thing were an obvious improvement over the CRX and didn’ t have the squinty greenhouse.

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    Adding to the pile here, but man, this thing is a major disappointment…I can live with the styling aft of the cowl, but that big honker and ridiculous overhang are deal killers…factor in tame H.P. #s and mediocre (for a hybrid) fuel economy, and we have “Insight Debacle, part II”  on our hands.

    This thing would have to be majorly more attractive in person, and have upped the Insight’s road manners to a VERY high standard to not be considered an epic fail to core Honda fans…

    Agreed that Honda is on a ‘bad trip’ and seems to have forgotten what made it’s cars so special in the first place…attractive, clean-lined styling, brilliant engineering solutions to meet gov’t regs, and class leading per-liter horsepower and fuel economy. They are lost, seriously lost….

    As a long-time Honda fan, and coming from a family that has owned and enjoyed several Hondas over the years, I hope they get their heads out of their as*es, and get the mojo back.

  • avatar
    JMII

    When the specs for this car finally came out I was disappoint. Like mentioned above the problem is unlike the CR-X of old (my brother had one and I had Civic Hatchback which was VERY similar) this CR-Z is not fast or frugal enough to carry the torch.
    Its a shame… but almost EVERY car Honda has made since shortly after the 1st generation CR-V has been a let down. Bloated, ugly, heavy, lackluster, sloppy, heck even the interiors have lost their excellent & clean UI. I was once a proud and happy Honda owner, in the past I’ve owned two Civics and one Prelude but nothing they make today is compelling. Sad.

  • avatar
    AirEd

    Makes me want to CR-Y!

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Ugly as it is, I’ll say this for the design….no damned fake vents or portholes on the front fenders.

    Those gawd-awful things get my vote for ugliest car design trend in history…..

  • avatar
    Mungooz

    I really like cars with a big, bulbous nose and with the front tires pushed back as far as they will go before the car tips over on its nose.  I just love those 4 or 5 foot front overhangs, specially when combined with a really tall hood and huge, clear plastic geometrically intricate headlight assemblies.  I also happen to be a big fan of the late, lamented Pontiac Aztek which I thought was not only playful but also delightful and lovely.  So I don’t have a problem with the CR-Z profile.  None at all.

  • avatar
    Mungooz

    One of the worst ever cowl compromises was on the Mustang IIs.  Trying to build a pony car using a Pinto cowl was an abomination.  It resulted in an ungainly car with possibly the most unpleasant looking front fenders seen until recent times (current Mazda3?)

  • avatar
    jurisb

    As a car designer, I can not find any failure in this design, even if the rear part is high it is still proportioned to the front. the overhang is also within normal tolerances, as the front overhang is comparable to the rear overhang. if rear v front overhang doesn`t exceed 2 to 1 or 1 to 2, it is still fine with me. I see a very professionally designed car here, with principles of continuity, paralelness, proportioning, and  angle symmetry at work.  besides, this car was designed by Honda, is using Honda engines, platforms and trannies, unlike those who usually rant here about Hondas, represent a country that usually rebadges  imports…. Well done, Japan!

  • avatar
    rpn453

    It’s ugly from the front, but I don’t even know how to describe how bad the car looks in profile.  The concept looks great, provided it doesn’t have ridiculous front overhang.
     
    I even like the looks of the Volt.

  • avatar
    miumiumi

    It is literally an illegitimate child of a Toyota Prius and a new generation Mazda 3.  Indeed, the new Mazda 3 is itself a mutant of a Peugeot, which I think was caused by design contamination.

  • avatar
    also Tom

    So……you were thinking that the same people who green lighted the Crosstour would stop there??

  • avatar
    tractor

    I like it, with the exception of the changes they made to the hood/fender that is. From reading I’m guessing it’s for pedestrian safety but it really hurts the appearance of the front end.
    But to put the styling on the same level as the Crossturd is a bit much. That is the complete absence of styling. The CR-Z at least, it is clear that they came up with some good styling features, but when it came down to it, the Honda safety team took the reigns from the designers for the hood/fenders.
    There is a rumor of a Type-R version which would put any performance issues to bed.

  • avatar
    wentzr

    Now I’m all for design following form, but as for your critiques of this car… I’m just not getting it.

    This all sounds subjective to me.. what the hell is a “cowl problem”?! should i really give a crap if other drivers can’t see what color shirt I’m wearing?!?

    Ok and really… what’s so shockingly different about the concept CR-Z and the production CR-Z? Not much. I think you’re the only site i’ve seen complaining of this.. they’re actually quite similar in comparison to how different most concepts look compared to production versions. . . still.. where’s the beef in that argument? why does “its not the same as the concept” equate to “it should never have been built??? wtf??

    But I’ll humor you – what’s different? for one the “cowl” you hate is lower in the production model… go on google and grab two IDENTICAL views (not slightly similar like you’ve done) and this is easy to see.. the bottom of the passenger side window went up to ABOVE the drivers shoulder on the concept!!

    If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.. pretty simple. but really I don’t see the point of this article other than to fulfill some prepubescent urge to illogically cry for the sake of crying. Looks to me and many others like a slick car. .. but that’s a subjective opinion which is why i’m not blogging about “Why the CR-Z is a slick looking car and everyone needs to buy one”

  • avatar

    I like the looks OK — alright, the show car was better, but it always is.  :-(  I think what stops me cold is 2 seats.  That’s a hard sell.  Otherwise, I’d at least entertain the possibility.

    I’d like to get another Honda/Acura at some point, but not sure I want any of the current designs.  Hey Honda –a bit more sport and less pork, please!

  • avatar
    hatchbacker

    Nobuki Ebisawa who took over as chief designer of Honda motors in 2004 should resign. In the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s, although Honda cars weren’t show stoppers, they still looked acceptable. Since the mid 2000’s, they have been just plain UGLY. Sure, many people still buy Honda cars but for the famed Honda engine and definitely not the design. Nobuki Ebisawa, please resign. Do what you are good at, maybe engineering. Thank you.


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