Honda Civic (2011) at the Frankfurt motor show
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Honda Civic (2011) at Frankfurt motor show
First Official Pictures
12 September 2011 20:00
This is the ninth generation of Honda’s small car star, which has gestated from trend setting (Civic Mk1 of 1972) to stylistically dull if technically advanced (most) to sci-fi-style wacko but technically mainstream (Civic Mk8). New Civics, over the years, have been about as easy to forecast as David Beckham’s next hairstyle as Honda engineers – never the most predictable bunch – veer from brave to bashful.
The new Civic, unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show, is eye-catching although less off-centre than generation eight, and is closed basely mechanically on its predecessor.
So what’s the big story with the new Honda Civic?
No big step-ahead technical story although the 2.2 diesel engine has been handily enhanced – 10bhp more power meets 29g/km less carbon, delivering one of the best power/parsimony balances in the class. Maximum power is at 148bhp, which is good – but not quite as good as we might expect from Honda (that’s over 20bhp down on a smaller diesel from BMW, along with Honda being probably the world’s most renowned builder of internal combustion engines).
The engine is invariably the best thing about any Honda, and this seems to be the case again with the latest Civic. The two carryover though mildly fettled petrol engines are the lively 1.4 and 1.8. All engines get Idle Stop (start-stop), which supposedly boots economy by five percent.
The style is certainly modern and aerodynamic – allegedly class best at 0.26 Cd – and less flying saucer-ish than the bravely proportioned but oddball generation eight car. Mind you, the outgoing Civic helped to lower the average age of UK owners – from 61 to 53.
The focus with the new car was on making it look leaner, said chief engineer Mitsuru Kariya at a pre-Frankfurt show party. It comes in five-door form only. The three-door, which constituted less than 20 percent of sales, has been dropped.
The biggest technical flaw of the outgoing Civic was its bone-jarring ride, and unsurprisingly Honda has concentrated on improving ride comfort. ‘It was our priority,’ admitted Kariya. Handling – never at Focus levels despite the sports car ride – was also a priority. The suspension uses the same set-up as the old Civic, although everything has been redesigned. The rear torsion beam axle – a less technically sophisticated solution than the multilink rear end used by many keen-driving competitors including the Focus, and a regressive step from previous Civics’ use of rear wishbones – has been retained. ‘It helps boot and cabin space,’ said Kariya. Honda claims cabin space – both rear seat and boot – is class leading. New fluid filled bushes supposedly boost ride quality.
Other priorities included boosting cabin fit-and-finish and improving rear visibility. Weight is unchanged, and the new car is slightly longer (by 35mm), wider (10mm) and lower (20mm) than before.
Is it built in Britain?
Yes, at Swindon, as have most European Civics since UK production began in 1994. Like its predecessor, the gen 9 car is designed mostly in Europe, for Europe.
Deliveries commence in January 2012. In late 2012, a 1.6 diesel version arrives – expect sub-100g carbon emissions – and a Type R is also on its way.
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