The Honda 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 Honda 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.

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