2016 Honda Civic Concept Makes Surprise Appearance in New York

Previews radically different style for new Civic arriving this fall.

New York -- Now this is more like what Mr. Honda was thinking about.

The 2016 Honda Civic Concept introduced at the New York auto show celebrates the arrival this fall of the all-new 2016 Honda Civic production car. We like to think that this amped-up concept car has the bold face and big wing of which Soichiro Honda would have approved, since he was just a hot-rodder at heart. Guy Melville-Brown, the Honda designer who directed the styling of this concept, says, "We wanted to show the red blood that boils in the brand. More than any other Honda, the Civic should show those qualities."

Yet more important than the concept car's styling details are the car's dramatically different proportions. As we can see in the concept, there's less front overhang, a longer distance from the nose to the A-pillar, and a radically raked windshield. The 2016 Civic will have a larger footprint than the car it replaces, but only by a small amount. It's fractionally longer, slightly wider, and a bit lower, and it rides on a longer wheelbase. We'll have to wait for the introduction of the sedan to know the actual numbers, however.

When the production 2016 Honda Civic arrives in the fall, it'll carry a new 1.5-liter turbocharged VTEC four-cylinder engine that will be built in the U.S. We expect to see the continued use of Honda's unique CVT, and the model line should eventually include hybrid and natural-gas powertrains. Even more exciting for enthusiasts is the addition of the turbocharged Honda Civic Type R hot hatch to the lineup. The Honda Civic coupe should follow the sedan to market within a couple months, with a five-door hatchback joining the lineup as well. We also expect to see an extensive range of active safety features that affect steering, braking, and chassis dynamics, much like those introduced for the Ford Focus and Mazda3.

The 2016 Honda Civic will also ride on an all-new platform. We're promised a car that will be lively and eager, ambitious and charismatic. Honda says this Civic will be the sportiest version yet, plus the fit and finish will be more precise. "We want to embrace the philosophy of Mr. Honda," Melville-Brown says.

These promises are made possible because Honda North America has taken over the leadership of Civic engineering and styling on a worldwide basis. This reflects corporate recognition at Honda's headquarters in Japan that the U.S. is the Civic's largest market by far, with some 325,981 sales in 2014. In fact, the Civic is the best-selling car in its class.

The 2016 Honda Civic Concept certainly has a strong, motorsports look beneath its coat of Energy Green paintwork. The front fascia is upright, and there are plenty of air ducts along with distinctive and upscale LED lighting. Rocker skirts improve aerodynamic efficiency, while the big rear wing looks like it has a real function. The rear is particularly expressive, thanks to a band of LED taillights that extends clear across the car and a center-exit exhaust. Wider fenders swell to cover the unique Swiss-made Goodyear tires, which ride on 20-inch wheels. Just as important, you can see big brakes behind the wheels.

How close is the 2016 Honda Civic Concept to, say, a production 2016 Civic Coupe Si? While Honda is careful to note the car unveiled today is strictly a concept, we expect the final product to only change those details that are unfeasible for production, such as the small mirrors and gigantic rear wing.

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