Detroit 2011: Honda Civic Concepts Favor Evolution, Not Revolution

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Honda chose to spend an extra year working on its next-generation Civic, but after looking at the conceptual sneak preview shown here in Detroit, we have to ask: was it worth the extra time?

Although bystanders may try to answer that question,  it's far too early to craft a conclusion at this point. While both the coupe and sedan concepts shown here in the Motor City are quite close to the final products, neither show us the ninth-generation Civic in its entirety. Heck, both showpieces are essentially gigantic scale models, devoid of chassis, driveline, and even interiors.

From what we can see -- and from the sparse details Honda reps provided during today's press conference -- the ninth-generation Civic is largely an evolution of the eighth-gen model, which debuted back in 2006. We're not shocked by Honda decision to take a conservative approach to the Civic's development; after all, the last car managed to sell 1.5 million units over the past five years. Designers have, however, infused both two- and four-door models with a little more personality -- both designs are a little longer, lower, and wider than the current car, and are infused with some curves to help avoid the boxy, slab-sided form of the outgoing model.

Honda won't talk specifics on the cars, other than noting the company's line of i-VTEC four-cylinder engines have allegedly been tweaked to improve fuel efficiency. Those interested in eco-conscious options will be happy to know the Civic Hybrid and CNG-fueled Civic GX are slated to return, albeit with a few modifications. The Hybrid, fitted with a revised form of the company's Integrated Motor Assist system, will utilize lithium-ion battery packs (a first for Honda), while the GX -- previously restricted to four states -- will now be sold nation-wide.

Considering the success Honda had with the eighth-gen Civic, we're not surprised that automaker wants to refine -- not reinvent -- the formula, but will it be enough to compete in an increasingly competitive compact car segment? Time will tell, but we're happy to hear your predictions in the comments section below. Expect more details on the final production car to emerge in the months to come, as the 2012 Civic is expected to debut by the end of the year.

STEVE
IM STILL FRICKEN MAD THEY WOULD NOT GIVE US ANY INFO ON THE CIVIC, WE WAITED AN EXTRA YEAR AND ALL WE GET IT SEE IS A PICTURE! THAT FRICKEN PISSES ME OFF SO MUCH THAT I WONT EVER BUY A HONDA AGAIN! 1ST LOST COSTOMER! WE THE CONSUMERS WAITED AN EXTRA YEAR AND GOT NO INFO, WHAT A SHAME!
Jet
If the rather conservative styling changes are any indication and carries over to the engineering of the rest of the car (ie.the engines, transmissions, interior) Honda may find that it didn't do enough to improve the civic and reinforce my belief that Honda is no longer the innovative company that it once was and is just trying to play catchup with its aging engineering (ie. Honda's offers its 6 speed auto on only a few models, has no dual clutch autos, no direct injection, no turbo charged or diesel engines). To make matters worse, Honda design studios produce hardly any cars that I would find attractive (the Acura styling is just ugly and Honda still persists with it instead of getting a new design studio when it should be obvious to Honda that Acura styling is universally despised.
jim
I like the new design, but I will never want just another car. We need and want the hatchback Si and would love the Si-R that Europe will probably get.
Car Addicted
This improvement in design makes it more attractive than the current models. It would be interesting to see future concepts of the Accord.
Randal Rauser
Meh. Sign me up for a Veloster.
William
if the standard Civic delivers 140 HP and 30/40 MPG I will strongly consider it if the Civic Si provides 190 HP and 25/35 MPG I will buy it

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