Concept Honda Civic Likely A Reality
Honda does not do a good job with its concept cars. No, they are not design failures – rather, they usually are not truly concepts.
When Honda displays a concept vehicle at an auto show, visitors need to ask Honda show representatives if the car they are seeing will be built. Likely, the answer is yes as the vehicle you are looking at may already been green-lighted for production.
At the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Honda revealed one such “concept” vehicle – the Honda Civic. Calling it a concept isn’t accurate – this model resembles the 2012 Honda Civic right down to the wheelwells.
But first, some Honda Civic history. This model was introduced as a subcompact to the US market in the early 1970s, the first Honda passenger vehicle sold in America. Always popular, the Honda Civic is a perennial top-five selling car for Honda, rivaling the Honda Accord in sales and competing directly against the Toyota Corolla.
Larger these days and now sold as a compact, the Civic is facing renewed competition from American and Asian automakers alike. Typically, the Civic is completely redesigned once every four or five years, but this latest generation model is hanging around for a sixth year. Credit Honda for taking into consideration what its competitors are offering, cars such as the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundia Elantra which have leapfrogged the Civic in technology and fuel efficiency.
On display at the NAIAS are conceptual versions of the ninth generation Honda Civic coupe and sedan. This vehicle retains much of the Civic design logic, but it also brings back a hybrid model. That hybrid will be powered by a lithium-ion battery, allowing the Civic to claim some of the highest fuel efficiency of any standard hybrid.
From the exterior, the Civic concepts reveals the sedan’s and coupe’s smooth, yet striking lines with steeply raked windshields, broad posture and noticeable character lines along the side view. That lower character line on both vehicles widens toward the rear fenders to deepen the active impression of forward energy. In other words, the car looks to be ready to move when it is sitting still. Credit the Civic’s deeply recessed headlamps for adding to that mystique.
Inside, Honda promises to maintain the fit and finish and ease of use cabin layout that has long been a selling point for the Civic. Though the exterior reveals the direction for the 2012 Civic, Honda has held back on what the cabin will look like as well as what they will be doing under the hood.
The biggest challenge for Honda is responding to what its competitors are doing: offering one or more models capable of achieving 40 mpg on the highway, something which eludes the Civic. Indeed, the Hyundai Elantra threw the gauntlet down when its 2011 model was released – both manual and automatic versions get 29 mpg city, 40 mpg highway – much better than the Civic. The Cruze, too, has an ECO model which betters the Civic, getting 42 mpg on the highway.
Don’t expect Honda to roll over and play dead – the Japanese automaker is keeping some things close to the vest and may surprise us later in 2011 when the 2012 Honda Civic debuts. What won’t be a surprise is the vehicle’s exterior which is currently being showcased at auto shows across North America, representing the ninth generation compact Honda Civic coupe and sedan.