Honda previews next-gen Civic

The prototype of the 11th-generation Civic may have been revealed on the world's leading live-streaming platform for gamers, which is novel, but whereas Hyundai and Toyota have incorporated edgier styling in their compact sedans, Honda has arguably made its newcomer appear less fussy (and more conservative) than the current model.

Make of the looks what you will – the sedan's design has split opinion in the editorial team right down the middle – but Honda says the new model has (compared with the current sedan) an “even sportier, fun-to-drive” chassis, improved powertrains (although the firm didn’t divulge details), as well as multiple new Civic-first features and technologies, plus further advances in active and passive safety features.

In spite of its retina-searing paint finish, the Civic looks markedly reserved... perhaps that just leaves room for sportier versions. 

The new Civic will make its North American debut in the 2nd quarter of 2021 (and in the rest of the world thereafter). The sedan version will come first, followed by the hatchback, including eventual performance-focused Si and Type R derivatives.

‘Most popular car in the US’

Honda has a significant presence in esports and its gaming platform includes a partnership with Twitch, which hosted the unveiling as well as Honda's Head2Head gaming channel. It’s a marketing strategy that has certainly paid dividends: the 10th-generation Civic might not be popular in the Republic (for a variety of reasons), but, for the past 4 years, the Japanese model has been the best-selling passenger car in America.

Even if you're not crazy about the overall design, the rear aspect represents the biggest improvement over the current model.

Did you know that the Japanese firm has sold 1.5 million units of the current model in the United States since it was introduced there in 2015 (it arrived in South Africa a year later). According to the firm, the Civic is “the most popular vehicle, car or light truck with Millennials, Gen Z, 1st-time new-vehicle buyers and a growing population of multicultural customers”, which shatters the myth that the brand appeals mostly to mature buyers. 

Smoother styling

Whereas the look of the current-generation Civic features an array of sharp lines, creases and almost cartoonish detailing, its successor has a smoother overall shape. To Honda's credit, the Civic retains its swoopy profile and low bonnet, but the Japanese firm's designers focused on the sedan's glasshouse section, where the A-pillars have been moved forward (for better visibility), while the side mirrors now sprout from the doors. 

The front-end styling is characterised by sleek, elongated headlamps on either side of the smaller grille, while the rear aspect looks broader by virtue of a wider track and the boomerang-shaped lighting signature of the chunky taillights; a subtle aerodynamic boot-lip completes the look.

The strip of honeycomb-pattern mesh serves as a major interior styling cue and it obscures the centre and side air vents. 

Honda has only released a sketch of the newcomer's interior, but it blends old and new. The fascia has been decluttered; designers minimised cut-lines and the tops of the doors blend harmoniously with the profile of the dashboard. And, in yet another example of the current "hidden air vents" trend, a retro-looking strip of honeycomb mesh stretches the width of the fascia (between the climate control console and touchscreen panel).

Don't be fooled by the sketch, the instrument cluster will be all-digital, while the 9-inch infotainment system will offer a host of connectivity options.

The rear bumper features integrated exhaust ends, but we don't know whether they're genuine tips or design accoutrements.

To conclude, the new Civic will feature an advanced new version of Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (Ace) body structure, which is said to offer both improved occupant and pedestrian collision protection. Honda says that its upcoming compact sedan (and its siblings) will also feature an upgraded suite of Honda Sensing safety and driver-assist technologies, as well as "multiple new airbag designs".

As soon as we have more details about the date of availability of the new Civic outside North America, we'll be sure to let you know.

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