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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 to its design studio this week following the Tokyo Motor Show. While we didn't see any secret new cars today, we did sit down for a chat with Nobuki Ebisawa, general manager of global design for Honda. Among other things, we discussed the styling of the new CR-Z hybrid sport coupe.

Honda unveiled an updated concept version of the CR-Z at the show that's merely a thinly-veiled version of the production model slated to debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January. The new concept remained on the show floor while the original 2007 concept was on display in the studio along with two quarter-scale clay models. One model was of the original proposal from early 2007, while the other model was the 2009 concept. Both are 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 the changes.


2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z production model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z production model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z production model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z production model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z production model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa


Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
In many respects, the production car is closer in detail to the 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 between both original designs and the production car. The sides of the greenhouse have been made more vertical than the concepts' inward-sloping tumblehome. This was done to provide a more spacious-feeling interior for the car's occupants. Further aiding interior space is a higher roof. The other big change was the shortening of the production-car's wheelbase, although we don't have exact dimensions.The result is a longer front overhang on the production car, while overall length remains constant.


2007 Honda CR-Z Concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

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 for greater tapering of the front corners (when viewed from above) which aids both pedestrian safety performance and airflow for reduced aerodynamic drag. Another benefit that Ebisawa-san highlighted was the nimbler handling that results from the production CR-Z's shorter axle span.

2009 Honda CR-Z Concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

Ebisawa-san also answered our question about the grille shape of the CR-Z and the similar nose of the SkyDeck concept, which 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 States. That said, the CR-Z style scoop grille will be reserved for sporty models.


2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept by Makoto Iwaki
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z production model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z production model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z production model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z production model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z production model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa
  • 2007 Honda CR-Z concept model by by Motoaki Minowa


Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      What about wheel size and stance?

      This thing looks aggressive now, but with 15s rolling on 70 series rubber is really going to kill the image.

      I know it can be addressed in the aftermarket, but still...
      • 5 Years Ago
      The fact they are so focused on the looks rather than discussing the details of the mechanicals has me concerned. Is it going to be another cheapo platform with drum brakes and a crude torsion beam suspension? If so, count me out. If they are doing a hybrid, they could have done something really cool by making perhaps and all-wheel drive with electric motors driving the rear wheels through an IRS with the gas motor powering the front wheels. Something like that would have been extremely innovative and pleased many people with the rear/all wheel drive. Unfortunately, Honda can no longer be counted on for innovation, let alone for modern day mechanicals such as basic 4 wheel disc brakes.

      • 5 Years Ago
      when I first saw the small pictures, the word "duh" just jumped into my mind.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Autoblog: FIX YOUR F&$(#$@ GALLERIES!!!!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Please!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sweet! I'm not the only person that get annoyed by this! lol
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yup! When i click on a specific image in the preview in the post I expect to see that picture! :@

        You guys clearly are NOT working on this, as I have been quietly waiting for it to be fixed since its inception.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What is "pedestrian safety performance" and how is it measured?




      http://www.buggyhound.com/
        • 5 Years Ago
        It means when you run a dude over with your car they get pushed to the side instead of pulled under. Think cow-pusher.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nice article! I am excited for the production at Detroit. I don't know why they chose Detroit over LA ;(

      For those of you who wanted to chat more about the CRZ please join our community at

      http://MyCRZ.com
      • 5 Years Ago
      I applaud the innovation of the design, but I dont think hybrid technology is far enough along to make this vehicle truly sporty. Personally I think Toyota has it right with the FT86. I personally think it is a huge waste of a beautiful looking vehicle to stick a hybrid power plant in the car, they should at very least offer a standard power plant along with the hybrid power plant. I am highly dissapointed with Honda lately, they seem to lack the spirit they once had.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This isn't the FT86. There might be some overlap (I'm considering both of them, at this point), but they're really after two different markets.

        As a hybrid, the CR-Z might actually be a hit for Honda. It looks like it will be a purpose-built hybrid (which the market has indicated it wants--the greenies want the whole world to know what car they chose), it's cool-looking, and in such a small car Honda's series-hybrid approach cuts the complexity and cost.

        The CR-Z could be the spiritual successor not just to the old CR-X, but to the original 2 seat Insight, too.

        Personally, I'm hoping they keep at least the basic layout of the interior intact, though the detailing is pretty cool, too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The technology for making a sporty hybrid may not be car enough along at the moment, but it never will be unless someone like Honda takes the initiative to make it happen.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As an original former Honda CRX owner, I love this new model!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now we know how the guy who must be fired looks like.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think the design is THAT bad.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What's wrong with the CR-Z? :
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nice article! I am excited for the production at Detroit. I don't know why they chose Detroit over LA ;(

        For those of you who wanted to chat more about the CRZ please join our community at

        http://MyCRZ.com
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm with everyone else, the '07 concept looks and feels fine, the '09 looks fine in photos. it's a good design direction for honda, much nicer than the previous civic si hatch.
        • 5 Years Ago
        lol, your name says it all... go back to consumer reports' minivan forum, the CR-Z is a beautiful car that I might be in the market for (since I graduate from college around that time...) when it comes out.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think it looks cool. Kind of reminds me of the Prius in a way, but actually cool. I wish they would change it to look like this, maybe hybrids wouldn't get hated on so much.
      • 5 Years Ago
      with every passing day these car interiors start to look more and more like they are out of Star Trek..
        • 5 Years Ago
        That is because a '67 Camaro is cool, what your parents or grandparents had, relatively speaking, wasn't.

        I personally dig the design of the CR-Z. Maybe it's because I'm an 80's child, but I think that if the Tokyo-displayed version is a reflection on the production model, then it's actually an improvement on the concept.

        And it looks good in white.

        And the fact that it comes as an hybrid is admirable.

        And the fact that they've developed a manual to work with said hybrid is even moreso.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Design is an iffy thing. When I'm car shopping it's the first thing that draws me in and I'm sure it's the same for everyone. I personally don't care for the spaceship or transformer look, inside or out. I think todays strongest designer influences come from movies and TV they have seen, and video games they have played. But for cars in general, to me those influences don't parlay into a satisfactory balance of shape and luxury.

        But then... there is the retro look of Camaros, Mustangs, and Challengers, which I've been bored with for a lot of years and to me is a lazy design approach. But they sell, and the arguments over them are the same now as then. I will say though, that 42 years ago when I bought my 67 Camaro, there is no way in hell that either I or my friends would have bought a retro car styled after those of our parents or grandparents.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good it's not the CR-Y. CR-Y is my codename for Crosstour.
        • 5 Years Ago
        LOL!

        In all seriousness, this is a great looking concept. I can't wait to see and hear about the production version and specs.
      • 5 Years Ago
      at least he admits that the production crz will make no attempt to be a sporty vehicle

      why didn't honda put the brand new fit powertrain into the sporty body as the base model and have a single cam 1.8 for the Si?

      the fact that performance has jack sqat to do with the powertrain choice leads me to believe that this car might have jack sqat to do with 'fun to drive'

      do they plan to get 2/3s of the sales from the much more expensive Si?
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