Starting from scratch is never a quick, easy or cheap thing for a car maker to do.
Plenty of them claim to do it every time they replace any model, but when Honda says it’s been working on this, the 10th-generation Civic, as part of a project stretching back fully seven years, and that making it has cost more money, time and effort than any other model replacement programme in its history (including, presumably, the current NSX), you begin to believe that ‘all-new’, in this instance, really means just that.
Your eyes confirm as much when you first see the car. Having grown significantly longer and wider than the outgoing Civic as well as becoming lower to the ground, the new model has distanced itself from the unorthodox styling that, more than anything else, made its predecessor a bit of a niche choice.
The new Civic has abandoned the unorthodox layout that allowed the previous couple of generations their flip-up rear seat cushions, favouring instead a design that prioritises the lower centre of gravity, low-slung driving position, widened axle tracks and plenty more besides that suggest handling dynamism and driver engagement ought to be chief among the car’s most attractive qualities.
Also offered is a pair of all-new turbocharged petrol engines directly related to the one that powered the Civic Type R hot hatch of 2015.
For all those reasons and more, this new model promises to offer a greater challenge to Europe’s five-door hatchback elite than any of its forebears and demands the chance to prove itself in a full Autocar road test.
The new Civic also brings greater strategic importance for the factory in which it is made. Honda’s UK manufacturing facility in Swindon will be the global production hub for the five-door Civic – the only factory in the world where Civic hatchbacks will be made.
So will the ‘global car’ treatment serve the Civic brand better than the left-field, Euro-centric approach has?