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STYLING | 7 out of 10
Once you pull open the somewhat heavy door, a novel interior design awaits, a kind of cost-conscious, Honda-type attempt to deliver the arty style of a Mini or Fiat 500.
While the production CR-Z lacks some of the muscularity of the concept, it still looks like nothing else on the road; that large, imposing grille and upslanting headlights start a design motif that finishes with a bold swish for a C-pillar and a sculptured rear deck.
…as with so many designs rotating on pedestals, everything's been watered down in the production process.
Inside, the CR-Z is best described as "futuristic busy," with a multicontoured dashboard that has more angles and textures-and storage binnacles-than all four generations of CRX and Insight put together.
The flashy design will make it obvious you aren't a "me-too" person.
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.
The 2012 Honda CR-Z lines echoes the classic CRX, but the design is more cacophonous on the outside, and the color changes of the instruments may remind you of a pachinko parlor.