Honda sent a shockwave through the Geneva Motor Show with the first public outing of this Civic concept car, which will form the basis of the all-new model due to go on sale early next year. Although billed as a concept car, company insiders reckon this styling study is a ‘99 per cent’ guide to how next year’s production model will look.
The radical-looking five-door shows that Honda is determined to shake off its fuddy-duddy image with sharp styling and the promise of class-leading performance, vastly improved dynamics and higher perceived quality.
‘If this doesn’t improve the image of Honda, I give in,’ said Honda UK’s marketing director Simon Thompson. ‘We’ll be moving into the premium segment,’ he added, hinting that Honda is targeting the BMW 1-series and Audi A3, as well as traditional rivals such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and VW Golf.
Designed in-house by Toshiyuki Okumoto, the new model will be built on an all-new platform and will keep many of the concept car’s details – including the egg-crate front and rear valance, Perspex-covered grille, triangular exhaust pipes and Alfa Romeo-style hidden rear door handles.
Unlike the current model, the three-door version will maintain the same profile and dimensions as the five-door.
‘We wanted a futuristic and sporty image,’ Okumoto told Autocar, ‘combining taut European design with Japanese influence and a good stance.’
The interior of the concept wasn’t on display at the Geneva show, but the design team is said to have given it a cockpit-style, driver-focused cabin that’s every bit as radical as the exterior. Attention will also be given to the look and feel of the cabin materials.
One downside to the lower-slung roofline, however, is that it won’t have the vast interior space of the current model, although seating versatility and practicality is said to have taken a step forward.
Technical details are still scarce, but the engine range is likely to include a revised 1.4-litre petrol engine from the Jazz, a newly developed 1.8-litre petrol and Honda’s impressive 2.2-litre turbodiesel.
Use of lightweight materials mean the kerbweight will also be reduced and safety boosted, with all models getting curtain airbags as standard.