New Honda Civic to debut at Paris Motor Show
Rather than simply meet expectations for the seventh generation of the Civic, Honda decided from the outset that it would raise the stakes with an all-new design - a Civic for the 21st Century.
The Civic 5-doors styling is fresh and innovative with a strong sense of solidity and refinement. Closer to a one-box design than previous generations, its distinctive front end is characterised by the short nose. The arching roofline defines a large glass area that ensures excellent visibility, but while roof height has been increased, visually it is not excessive and falls midway between standard C-segment hatchbacks and compact MPVs.
Highly innovative packaging makes the new Civic one of the most spacious cars in its class. Beneath the skin a raft of new features and advanced technologies ensure the 2001 Civic is one of the most significant new generations since the models inception nearly three decades ago.
One of the prime challenges for the designers of the new Civic 5-door was to increase interior space while retaining the compact nature and nimble handling of earlier generations. While retaining the same width as before, the new Civic is slightly shorter and significantly taller than its predecessor. Yet despite the reduction in overall length, there is substantially more usable room in the cabin, reflecting the fact that Honda designed the Civic from the inside-out.
Clever packaging is the key to the Civics outstanding interior space. An extended wheelbase pushes the wheels further out towards the corners of the body, resulting in shorter front and rear overhangs. Together with a short nose design, achievable thanks to new front suspension, a high-mounted steering rack and a compact engine bay, this frees up more space inside the cabin for occupants and luggage.
In addition, a new, compact suspension set-up at the rear combines with clever underfloor packaging - including a resin fuel tank that has been moulded to fill the space available - to give a flat cabin floor without the intrusion of a central tunnel.
The result of Hondas efforts is a package that leaves competitor models trailing on interior space. A key indicator of the spaciousness of any car is the tandem distance (measured between the hip points of front and rear passengers). In the case of the Civic this distance is 1010 mm, 100 mm greater than the previous model and far surpassing any competitor. In tandem with a relatively high roof, this ensures Civic 5-door driver and passengers enjoy a light, airy environment.
Class-leading crash safety was a primary design objective for the new Civic. Although the car has yet to undergo Euro-NCAP testing, it is expected to achieve a 4-star rating for both front and side collision and pedestrian safety. The short nose design was a true engineering challenge in this context; the issue was resolved by effectively splitting impact energy along parallel paths - the high stiffness front side members and the sub-frame beneath. Elsewhere, the bodyshell features extensive stiffening, with high strength steel used to provide an impressively strong structure. Overall body rigidity is also increased over the previous model, improving NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) and suspension refinement.
New Civic drivers and passengers will enjoy a relaxing, spacious cabin and exceptional refinement. Extensive use of noise suppression materials, careful co-ordination of colours and textures, larger front seats and greater all-round accommodation all combine with a more supple ride to make travel a particularly pleasant experience.
For the first time in a production car, Honda has adopted a fascia-mounted gear lever in the Civic 5-door. It will also feature in the 3-door. The position of the gear lever has been carefully considered to ensure it feels perfectly natural in everyday driving. The levers proximity to the steering wheel makes gear shifting more convenient and safe but does not detract from the change having a sporty feel. In addition, its position frees up floor space, which together with the flat floor means the Civic offers front-to-rear and left-to-right walk-through access.
One of the most tangible indications of the new Civics enhanced quality is the extremely close tolerances accomplished with the body panels, which greatly improves fit and finish appearance. Achieved in large part through new and advanced manufacturing techniques, the tighter tolerances have resulted in most gaps being halved, and in some cases reduced almost to zero.
Two new, highly efficient 16-valve four-cylinder engines provide power. Some 10% lighter than their predecessors, both have been engineered for greater torque and therefore improved driving flexibility. The SOHC units are also more refined, more economical and are cleaner than previously.
Engines can be matched to either 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions, in all but the entry-level 1.4i S model. The electronically controlled automatic, with extended torque converter lock-up for greater economy, features improved shift precision and incorporates Grade Logic, Hondas intelligent ratio selecting system.
Front and rear suspensions are all-new, and deliver enhanced ride quality and sportier handling, in addition to endowing the packaging benefits already described. Toe control link MacPherson struts have been selected for the front suspension, while at the rear a new reactive link double wishbone set-up provides rear wheel toe-in under braking for greater stability. Larger, 15 inch wheels on 1.6-litre models aid comfort and are fitted with low rolling resistance tyres for better fuel economy.
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