The soul may be Japanese but the styling – in certain aspects at least – is Italian. To create the new Honda Civic, Toshiyuki Okumoto, head of external design, spent many long months in Milan where the Japanese manufacturer has a studio. “To complete”, he says, “the car’s strong, decisive personality, to be closer to European culture and, therefore, to better understand its needs”.

Wider and lower than the previous model and even slightly shorter (it is 424.8 cm long), the new car grasps at sporty, emotive, and fun characteristics which in the hopes of Honda will make it a leading player in the competitive European segment C, particularly in the more upmarket premium belt. With its general appearance it is half way between an MPV and a coupé, while with its very special look the new Civic represents a clean break with the past, starting with the front which is cut by a transparent strip that covers grille and lights. Even the interior takes a modern route with its large spaces but also the unusual dash, interpreted in futuristic vein with hi-tech instrumentation and controls.

Produced in the Swindon, England, factory, the Civic for Europe – substantially different from those for the Japanese and American markets – reveals in full its intention of breaking free of convention and its ambition to win market share. Three engines are available, two of them petrol (1339 cc, 83 bhp, 170 km/h; or the new 1799 Vtec 140 bhp and 205 km/h) and a turbodiesel already proposed on other Honda models (2.2 litres, 140 bhp, 205 km/h). Not to mention the wealth of electronic wizadry for greater comfort but above all safety.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 156

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