► Honda’s new Civic hatchback revealed
► Reworked interior, bold exterior styling
► Set to be on display at the Paris motor show
The US-spec Honda Civic hatchback has been out in the wild for a little while now, but the Japanese manufacturer has been keeping our subtly different Euro car under covers.
Now, however, the wraps have come off the new Japanese hatchback. We got our first proper look at the new Civic at an event held at Honda’s factory in Swindon, the global home of new Civic manufacturing – before the new car gets its on-stage debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.
What’s new, then?
Honda started off by acknowledged the ninth-generation car’s shortcomings, suggesting it had lost some of its essence of Civic, and more importantly, its appeal to younger buyers.
As such, this new car needs to be a significant step forward to catch up with the rest of the hatchback market, led by rivals including the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and BMW 1 Series.
So, the tenth-generation Civic has been subject to the largest single-model development programme in Honda’s history – it’s a completely new car from the ground up.
And these official pictures prove that the styling remains just as dramatic as the prototype version, originally unveiled at the Geneva motor show in spring 2016.
Yes, it does. Highlights include a reputedly lightweight and rigid bodyshell, with a lower centre of gravity, plus a new multi-link independent rear suspension set up aimed at better handling and ride comfort.
As well as shedding 16kg from the body alone, the new Civic’s platform is 52% stiffer. That should help with refinement and handling.
There’s more interior space thanks to a 130mm longer wheelbase and 30mm more interior width. You also sit 35mm close to the floor, with a 20mm lower roofline. It feels quite roomy inside, with good head and leg room in the back, but small rear door pockets
The boot is larger by one litre (478 in total) and features a wider opening with a cool sideways-rolling parcel shelf – there’s no need to remove the rolled-up mechanism when folding the seats flat.
Some of the old car’s practicalities have been compromised though – the packaging requirements of the new rear suspension system means you can’t have the smart multi-folding Magic Seats anymore, and if you pick the racy-looking Sport trim, the central exhaust does away with the extended under-floor boot storage.
What engines are available?
From launch in the UK there will be two petrol VTEC Turbo units, a 1.0-litre three-cylinder putting out 128bhp and a 1.5-litre four-pot good for 181bhp. Pick the Sport trim and you can only have the latter.
We had a passenger ride in car with the smaller three-cylinder motor and were impressed by its refinement and general lack of gruff sound and vibration.
Both engines are available with a six-speed manual or a CVT, the latter featuring seven simulated gears.
A 1.6-litre diesel (119bhp) with the same manual or a nine-speed automatic will be offered later in 2017, but there’s no word yet on whether you can spec it with in Sport trim.
Tell me they’ve sorted out the interior?
It’s much smarter inside, which is good, but it’s also more conventional – which some may regard as a negative. Headline changes include some ordinary-looking TFT colour screens to replace the dials and a new touchscreen multimedia system.
The digital instrument cluster features a large tachometer and speedometer, with an area set aside for various screens for the sat-nav, SMS and email, audio information and trip computer.
Honda’s second-generation multimedia system makes an appearance, and it supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Finally, the Honda Sensing package is now standard and features lane departure warning, city brake system and traffic sign recognition.
How will the US-spec Civic differ from the European version?
All models in the USA are powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with around 170bhp (or 181bhp in aforementioned Sport trim, with the centrally mounted exhaust system).
In the States, the new Civic hatchback joins Coupe and Sedan variants launched earlier in 2016 – we don’t get them in the UK.
There will also be some minor styling differences between the Euro and US Civic hatches, although all models will be five-door only. Jointly developed in the UK and Japan, all versions of the new Civic will be built and exported from Honda’s Swindon plant in England.
Looks racy. When’s the Type R version coming?
While the current-generation Civic Type R had a lengthy gestation, it’s understood that the next Type R will arrive more swiftly. We're expecting to see one in concept form at the Paris show, and our spy photographers have already spotted prototypes out in the wild.
Honda’s American press office says the new Civic hatch ‘will serve as the basis for the radical new Civic Type-R launching in the US in 2017.’
When can I get my hands on one?
Petrol cars go on sale in March 2017, followed by the diesel in the last few months of 2017.
Read more Paris motor show news here