The 2012 Honda CR-Z bridges two decades, working to bring a modern look and hybrid persona to a shape derived from the small, sporty CRX of fond memory a generation ago. It's not altogether successful, but the CR-Z is definitely distinctive--and manages to look substantial despite its small two-seat footprint.
It's spawned from the Insight five-door hatchback, and the CR-Z's front end--containing modern-day crash structures the CRX designers couldn't have imagined--is so long relative to the cabin that the car looks a bit unbalanced. The windshield is laid back, and the tail is high, complete with vertical glass panel in the tailgate to improve rearward visibility, which is greatly restricted through the all-but-horizontal rear window.
The side view looks thick, though, and the triangular rear windows are very small due to the rising beltline. It makes the CR-Z look high and low at the same time, and the long doors emphasize the truncated tail. It's one of a kind, but while it's distinctive, we're not convinced that it rises to the level of attractive.
The interior is based on the two-level Honda display found in not only the Insight but the Civic as well. The upper part of the dash, capped in pleasantly soft plastic (unlike other, grimmer Honda interiors) wraps around to envelop the driver. The blue, red, and green gauges add dashes of bright color, reminiscent of the "Tokyo by Night" aesthetic of Japanese cars made during the mid-Eighties. The colors are meant to guide you toward more economical driving, too, or at least let you know when you're using the most gasoline. Angry, jangly red indicates maximum performance (high consumption), while cooling, soothing green and blue denote more economical driving styles.