Is Honda readying a Civic facelift? The current Honda Civic was launched in 2005 and there's been barely any stylistic change since. Hardly surprising, since it looked like a Honda from the Planet Zog when it first arrived, all space-age wedge and modernist details in the place of traditional Civic conservatism.
Most of the revisions to the range have been sporting models – Type-Rs and Mugen nutters – with only a few engine tweaks and specification upgrades along the way.
But now our spy photographers have caught this Civic prototype testing in Germany. The top hat looks like a carryover of today's Civic glasshouse, but black cladding hides the bodywork down low – suggesting there is change afoot in the Civic's wardrobe.
A Honda Civic facelift? Or a hybrid?
Our information suggests that no new Civic is imminent, pointing to a 2011 or 2012 debut for a new model. Our interpretation points to a subtle change reflecting the Golf's evolution from Mk5 to Mk6. Not exactly an all-new model, but a heavy facelift.
Could the next Civic sport hybrid power? Honda is known to be launching hybrid versions of its existing cars as it rolls out petrol-electric technology across its range. The Jazz, for instance, is getting the IMA hybrid module, and it would make sense for the high-volume Civic hatch to go hybrid too. After all, the Civic Hybrid currently on sale is based on the US-spec saloon.
This prototype has different rear lights to today's car, and it seems that the integrated spoiler may be destined for the dustbin (it has been criticised for blocking rear visibility). No sign of those cool, triangular exhaust pipes either.
What's the new Civic doing in Germany?
Honda Europe is based in the UK, but the Euro R&D centre is in Offenbach, near Frankfurt. Whatever is lurking under this disguise is almost certainly bound for a showroom near you in the next couple of years.
Expect new, smaller-capacity diesel engines at last: the CEO this week confirmed it was developing a new smaller derv to slot beneath the 2.2 i-DTEC unit. We'd tip a 1.6 or 1.8 diesel for action in the lower and upper medium sector in Europe.
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