A car isn’t just a piece of personal property. It’s also a way for owners to express their viewpoint on life. For example, do they value spending time with their family? Enjoy their pastimes to the fullest? Take the environment into consideration? There are many different cars out there to choose from, and the best kind of exterior design lets owners express their viewpoint in an appealing way.
Honda designers are always striving to achieve this goal, and the process goes beyond merely establishing the physical appearance of the vehicle. We take the driver’s feelings into consideration to envision the form as a whole and then work through the design detail by detail. Once we can imagine scenes in which the automobile makes the driver shine, then we know we’ve created an exterior design worthy of Honda.
Thanks to Honda’s original lightweight and compact hybrid system, the CR-Z offers much more than excellent fuel economy. It also has great acceleration and responsive handling, making it a car that transforms short, everyday trips into exciting moments. In developing the exterior design, we set out to create an emotional feel that would foster this kind of excitement. We also wanted to create an advanced design that looks ahead of its time—a design with the sense of speed and power to spare that gives the driver’s lifestyle a boost of fun.
We first designed the frame in Japan. Then we polished the clay model in Germany. We chose Germany because there more men and women and people of all ages are out driving compact cars on the highway and in town just like sports cars. Using Honda’s unique approach, we designed the CR-Z with an exterior design that would get attention and make the driver look simply great and a compact form that would allow for convenient, carefree driving.
In Europe, the average driving speed is quite high, and the way the light reflects and the air moves is just different than in Japan. All of these things alter our perception of the design, and the change in environment gave us a new vision for creating just the right surfaces. The designers and modelers proceeded through trial and error, trying out many possibilities. In time, we created an advanced wedge form that seems to speed along like a bullet—a sensual kind of shape that practically demands one to walk up and touch it. This design has a sense of streamlined speed and beauty that wouldn’t be possible in a larger automobile.
Our first focus was the height of the hood, since that’s where the wedge form starts. If we couldn’t get the hood low enough, then the entire silhouette of the car would be compromised. The car would also increase in overall height, raising the driving position and detracting from the sporty driving feel. So we made a low hood our priority and based the rest of the design around this goal.
This was quite a challenge for us. We had to create enough space inside for the powertrain and implement pedestrian injury mitigation features, which are crucial in the event of an accident. The designers and their counterparts in engineering revised the drawings again and again, eventually achieving the desired hood height.
Then, to give that low-slung form the right look of speed in motion, we designed the front and rear fenders which encase the tires, projecting boldly and powerfully from the wedge. Our designers then created body lines to merge smoothly with the fenders, as well as surfaces with rich light and shadow contrasts. These elements helped create the emotional look that every true sports car must have. Finally, we added character lines that further sharpened up the look. We felt we’d created elegant, sensuous exterior styling to satisfy an experienced, discerning customer.
While creating styling that appeals to the emotions, we were also conscious of the need to develop a distinctively Honda design that combines ease of use with outstanding fuel economy. For example, we pulled the front pillars way back, which helped emphasize the presence of the hood in the side view. At the same time, this design feature greatly expands the driver’s forward view. A new structure reduced the protrusion of the pillars, too, giving the appearance of unified flow from the front of the car to the sides. Also, less pillar protrusion meant less drag and enhanced fuel economy. Throughout the CR-Z, you’ll find such attention to functionality. There’s a good reason for every element of the design.
The CR-Z was born to provide the pure pleasure of driving—the essential enjoyment that an automobile has to offer. At the core of the CR-Z lies the Honda way of thinking, its origins. People need to get around, and our goal is to make getting about as fun as possible. Of course, we want to encourage people to get out and drive just for fun, too. We look forward to customers trying out this new hybrid compact sports car for a new era, and experiencing a new design touch and driving feel.