Exterior Design and Body
The CR-Z was created from a project to create a sporty coupe for the second decade of the 21st century. The compact dimensions, light weight construction and aerodynamic design brings a dual benefit of improving performance, but also cutting fuel consumption and emissions.The design has hints of Honda’s past with the split level window and shallow sloping roof, combining them with complex curves and deeply scalloped panels that would have been impossible to mass produce just a few years ago.Modern car design has many constraints placed upon it, with the increasing number of regulations and policies which influence the shape of new models. The major challenge that faced Honda’s designers and engineers was to maintain the sleek low bonnet design of the initial design studies, while adopting the 1.5-litre engine with IMA system and complying with pedestrian impact requirements. Honda’s engineers worked tirelessly with the designers to reduce the height of the engine, as well as working on suspension and body hard points to allow for sufficient clearance for bonnet deformation.
The wide and low stance is enhanced at the front end by the unusual one piece grille, which extends above and below the front bumper line. This grille is a key feature of the car’s “face”, with a pronounced raised area of the bonnet flowing from its top line right up to the base of the windscreen. The wide tapering headlights, with day time running lights elegantly integrated into the lower edges, extend towards the edges of the strongly flared wheels arches.The angle of curvature at the edge of the windscreen of the CR-Z is the greatest of any current Honda model,and it blends almost seamlessly into the A-pillars and side windows. This wraparound effect is only possible because of the revolutionary rain gutters integrated into the front pillars that significantly reduce the usual step between the edge of the windscreen and the A-pillar by 50%. As well as creating a distinctive visual effect, the reduction in this step has clear aerodynamic benefits, reducing turbulence in this important area. The integrated look is accentuated by the gloss black surface finish applied to the A-pillars, creating the illusion of a single piece of glass.
The wraparound screen positions the A-pillars further back in the side profile, giving the bonnet a longer and lower appearance. By curving the glass around the sides of the car, Honda’s engineers were able to achieve excellent forward visibility, a key factor in safety and enthusiastic driving.
The door mirrors are an ultra aerodynamic,shape, supported by a wing form stay, which combine visual appeal, with low drag design. Extensive aerodynamic testing led the design team to the final shape, which integrates a slim indicator repeater to complete the look.The roof slope and length is critical to the overall aerodynamic performance of a vehicle and the stylists and engineers worked together to create the longest roof length possible without upsetting the overall visual balance of the car. The rear of the CR-Z has a particularly important role to play in the aerodynamics and many hours of wind tunnel testing went into refining the final design. The strongly flared rear arches stand proud of the rear bodywork and the rear tapers into the split level glass hatch, a concept shared with the second generation CR-X, 1999 Insight and FCX Clarity models.
The curvature and shape of the rear hatch and glass area are a part of the drag reduction measures that have been used throughout the CR-Z’s design, as well as bringing a fresh perspective to a signature Honda design feature. Great attention was paid to maximising visibility through the rear hatch and the size and position of the spoiler which divides the two areas was very carefully researched and tested.The rear diffuser masks the exhaust pipe on the CR-Z, giving a balanced look to the rear of the car and aiding the efficient management of airflow under the rear of the car. The diffuser has been made in a material containing aluminium flakes to give a metallic appearance to the finish.
To achieve the radical looks of the CR-Z Concept, required innovative solutions to ensure the styling did not compromise the usability or dynamic responses of the CR-Z. The engineers wanted to create a stiff body unit to ensure dynamic responses met the expectations the styling creates. To achieve this, metal gussets are used in critical areas around the front and rear suspension turrets to provide a firm base for excellent suspension control. Furthermore an H-shaped “performance rod” was designed for the rear to increase rear chassis stiffness. The result of these stiffening efforts is a rigidity figure similar to that of theEuropean Civic Type-R. As with all recent Honda models the CR-Z has an Advanced Compatibility EngineeringTM (ACETM) body structure. This unique Honda technology has been developed through years of testing at Honda’s Tochigi R&D centre where real cars are crashed in realistic situations. The front frame spread the load over the front crash structures to ensure the CR-Z gives maximum protection in impacts with vehicles of different bumper heights.
The interior styling of the CR-Z Concept was warmly received and Honda’s engineers and stylists were keen to reflect this in the production car.
The cabin of the CR-Z has been designed around a cockpit theme, clustering critical controls close to the driver, creating a sense of purpose and reducing distractions. The upper dashboard section contains all of the controls and dials and is formed from a RIM (Reaction Injection Moulding) moulded black plastic, which has never been used for a Honda dashboard before. This new plastic material gives a pleasing, tactile to the upper dash surfaces.
The lower section of the dashboard is formed from a light-grey material, which gives the upper section the appearance of floating. The lower, lighter section is continued almost seamlessly into the doors, to wrap the cabin around the driver and passenger. The doors feature two major areas of colour, with the larger portion matching the texture and colour of the upper “floating” section and a middle swathe coordinating with the lower, light grey section. The door grabs on some grades have been treated with a special metallic coating, which is being used for the first time in an automotive interior application. This high-gloss film is coated with evaporated metal to create a unique texture for upper grade cars.
The seats have been designed to support the driver in enthusiastic driving, with particular attention paid to the angle of the seat in relation to the pedals. The angle was set to allow the driver to sit low in the car and maintain a comfortable and practical driving position. The side bolsters of the seats have been designed to support a range of sizes of people and the seat is optimised around a European sized person. To compliment the reach and rake adjustable steering wheel, the driver’s seat has a 50 mm range of height settings, with driver and passenger seats having a 240 mm range of front to back motion.One of the elements that has been reflected most strongly in the production car is the design of the instrument panel, which has an eye-catching and hi-tech 3D gauge design. The dials of the CR-Z have been designed to be more than just attractive, with the ambient lighting of the dials playing a key role in the 3-Mode Drive System and the Eco Assist functions.
The rev-counter forms the centre piece of the dashboard with the speedometer recessed in to the middle of dial. The rev-counter performs a full scale deflection from zero to maximum and back again at start-up, drawing the driver’s eye to the instrument binnacle when switching the car on.Either side of the speedometer and rev counter are the ancillary gauges and displays, for less critical information. To the right of the centre, are the fuel gauge and fuel economy meters and below these is the Multi-Information Display (MID). On the left of the central gauge, are the IMA battery level gauge and the charge/assist gauge, which shows when the motor is assisting, or the battery being recharged.
The MID can display elapsed journey time, current fuel economy, average fuel economy and average speed. The MID can also display the current status of the motor and engine in providing power and the Eco Assist bar, which gives detailed guidance on driving style and avoiding excessive acceleration and braking when economy is the goal. Drivers can also check the economy figures achieved on their previous journeys as well as their progress towards the Eco Assist awards.The instrument area is framed by two wing-like extensions to the instrument cowl which contains the controls for frequently used equipment, placing them close to the driver’s hands. On the left “wing” the controls for the 3-Mode Drive System are clustered alongside the controls for the door mirrors.
On the right “wing” the controls and the display for the climate control are positioned together for ease of use. The steering wheel follows the same design philosophy as other Honda models, with audio controls on the left spoke and cruise control (if fitted) on the right spoke. The MID controls are beneath the right spoke and the Hands Free Telephone HFT and voice activated satellite navigation controls (if fitted) are beneath the left spoke.
The stylish interior has a 2+2 layout which gives the possibility of extending usability beyond that of a two seat car and are also fitted with ISOFIX child seat points. The rear seats have been designed to fold easily and quickly to significantly increase cargo space. The one touch motion folding rear seats can easily be folded, even if standing behind the car, quickly extending beyond the standard 214 litres (VDA) of space. Folding the seats opens up a flat floored cargo area that gives a surprising 382 litres (VDA to window) of cargo space, allowing a wider range of luggage to be carried.
The boot area also has an under-boot space of 19 litres to stow additional cargo, or store items out of sight. This area is a deep well, between the IPU and the rear bumper and will easily take a laptop case or similar. The boot area itself can be configured with a tonneau cover, or this can be removed and attached to the boot floor. This allows the user to section the luggage with the cover forming a hidden section against the boot lip, almost invisible from the outside. The third option is to secure the cover when rolled on the boot floor to remove the height restriction on cargo with the seats folded.
Equipment levels on the CR-Z are generous, with all grades benefitting from 6 airbags, active headrests, Vehicle Stability Assist and Hill Start Assist. When starting on steep inclines from a stop, Hill Start Assist temporarily prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards by maintaining brake pressure during the moment between releasing the brake, depressing the throttle and engaging the clutch (for a duration of approximately 1.0 second).
All CR-Z grades will also come fitted with Climate Control, 6-speaker CD player with USB iPod® link and engine start button. The dashboard incorporates a semi-hidden box at the top of the space in front of the gear shift lever. This box is sized to accommodate an MP3 music player and contains the lead to link compatible devices to the CR-Z’s stereo. Customers will benefit from the ability to control MP3 music players from the main stereo unit, to maximise usability and minimise distractions.Middle and top grades benefit from leather seats, steering wheel audio controls and alloy pedals. Top grades gain Bluetooth® Hands Free Telephone (HFT) controls, cruise control, panoramic glass roof, HID lights and 360W high power audio system – including a boot mounted sub-woofer.