Why The Honda CR-Z Is So Ugly And Should Never Have Been Built

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
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why the honda cr z is so ugly and should never have been built

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.

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)

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.

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.

Paul Niedermeyer
Paul Niedermeyer

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  • Gary Wolfe Gary Wolfe on Jan 06, 2011

    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!

  • Hatchbacker Hatchbacker on Jun 13, 2011

    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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  • Jeff Of all the EV trucks I like the Rivian the best but I am still years away if ever from buying an EV.
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  • Kwi65728132 I always did like the styling of the 300C and it was on my short list for a new (to me) rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated V8 luxury sedan but I found a Hyundai Equus that was better optioned than any 300C I could find and for several grand less.