Honda global design director Nobuki Ebisawa - click above for high res image gallery
For the first time in its history, Honda
invited a select group of North American media to visit its design studio this week after the Tokyo Motor Show
. While we didn't get to see any secret new cars
, we did get to sit down for a chat with Nobuki Ebisawa, general manager of global design for Honda. Among other things, we discussed the design of the new CR-Z hybrid sport coupe
At the show, Honda unveiled an updated concept version of the CR-Z
that is a very thinly veiled version of the production model that will debut at the Detroit show in January. That car remained on the show floor while the original 2007 concept
was on display in the studio along with two quarter scale clay models of the original concept and the 2009 car. The original proposal model and the production car were both the work of Motoaki Minowa while the actual concept that was built in 2007 was produced by Makoto Iwaki. Read on to learn more about what changed from concept to concept to the upcoming production model.
Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
In many respects, the production car is closer in detail to that 2007 Minowa model than to the 2007 full-size Iwaki concept, particularly in the character lines on the flanks that yield a bit of a cutout in the middle of the car. The Iwaki design has flatter sides.
There are other differences from both original designs to the production car. The sides of the greenhouse have been made more vertical than the inward-sloping tumble home of the concepts. This was done to provide a more spacious-feeling interior for occupants. Further aiding interior space is a higher roof. The other big change was in the wheelbase, which was shortened a bit (Honda didn't give out exact dimensions). The result is a longer front overhang on the production car, with the overall length of the production model unchanged.
Ebisawa-san explained that this was done for several different reasons. The longer overhang provides more crush space to help with crash safety performance. It also allows more tapering of the front corners (as seen from above) which aids both pedestrian safety performance and air-flow for reduced aerodynamic drag. Another benefit Ebisawa-san highlighted was improved, more nimble handling that comes from the shorter axle span.
Ebisawa-san also answered our question about the grille shape of the CR-Z and the similar nose of the SkyDeck concept
that also debuted in Tokyo. We asked if this design would become the new Honda standard. Ebisawa-san explained that unlike Acura
, Honda won't be using a single face for its entire lineup. Instead it will have different looks for different families just as the light truck/SUVs already differ from cars in the U.S. The CR-Z-style scoop grille will be reserved for sporty models.