NEW YORK – It’s heartening to see the Japanese return to bag all the headlines at a major motor show that’s not Tokyo. Along with the Lexus RX, arguably the biggest eye-opener of New York was the new Honda Civic, which showed up in concept form.
The lime green paintwork might scorch eyes a little, and it’s a coupe, but the Honda Civic Concept is supposed to mimic very closely the full-production version of the sedan which is due for launch in the USA this year, and bound for Singapore in 2016.
The second point to take away is the fact that Honda has confirmed the the Civic sedan will be powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged VTEC engine, and that version will also be bound for Singapore.
While the standard six-speed manual was announced at New York, you can expect almost all Singaporean models to pack Honda’s typical continuously-variable transmission. As per the previous ninth and eight-gen Civics, the FD and FB, our cars will be assembled in Thailand.
Honda also has long planned smaller versions of the turbo engine, including this 1.5-litre, and a 1.0-litre with three-cylinders. If benchmarked to similar engines including those from BMW and Volvo, we can expect power output to be approximately 130bhp and 100bhp respectively. In the past decade the Germans have led the charge with torquey, fuel-efficient small-capacity turbos and now the Japanese and Koreans are catching up.
Of course the concept won’t be entirely unchanged when it enters production, but judging from the lines of new Civic Type-R hatchback, the production four-door will still be packing lots of visual heat, assured Honda executives at the show.
While no official figures were announced at the show, Honda says the new sedan will be larger as it packs a longer wheelbase, wider track and lower overall height, plus shorter front and rear overhangs which should spell for better interior room and improved driving dynamics.
“The new Civic will be, flat out, the most dynamic, the most technologically advanced and the most refined and stylish Civic we’ve ever made,” said John Mendel, executive vice president, Automobile Division, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “In every way, this will be an epic Civic.”
In its official statement the US-spec Civic is expected to receive new safety technologies too, under the blanket term ‘Honda Sensing’, including adaptive cruise control, a multi-angle rearview camera and lane-keeping assistant. Similar systems are found in upper-crust Honda models here, such as the Odyssey MPV, but final Singapore spec for the Civic is still speculative at this point.
Honda has already made headlines with the new, Swindon-assembled Civic Type-R hatchback packing the 2.0-litre VTEC turbo engine with 306bhp, and it’s already won its first race (in the British Touring Car Championships) as well as taken the front-wheel drive record on the Nurburgring Nordschleife.
In other news, the hatchback version will now also be sold in the USA – previously it was limited to hatch-crazy Europe, although it seems less likely for our own Southeast Asian market.