By on March 17, 2015

1024px-Honda_Civic_Si_EP3

It’s been nearly a decade since Honda introduced a Civic hatchback in North America. But according to reports by the Nikkei, our market is slated to get another Civic hatch, which will also be built in the UK.

The Civic hatchback will be built at Honda’s Swindon, UK plant, and sent to North America starting in 2016. Swindon has capacity for 250,000 cars annually, but has been running at far below that, with one of its two lines, capable of building 100,000 units per year, has been sitting idle.

A plant being underutilized at this level is a major financial drain on an auto maker, and Honda is understandably eager to optimize capacity at Swindon. The Nikkei projects 30,000 to 40,000 Civic hatchbacks will come to North America starting in the summer of 2016. While it won’t enable the plant to operate at full capacity, it still helps.

The move comes as part of an overall restructuring of Honda’s European operations. The Fit, known as the Jazz in Europe, will be exported from Japan, while a number of Honda personnel will be sent back to Japan.

From a product standpoint, the introduction of a 5-door Civic hatchback in North America will allow Honda to better compete with the VW Golf as well as 5-door versions of the Mazda3, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and other compact cars. The hatchback models often sell at a higher price point, which will help absorb some of the currency costs related to the British pound. But those hoping for a straight import of the recently unveiled Civic Type-R shouldn’t get their hopes up.

The “all-new” Type R is being released at the end of the lifecycle of the current Civic hatch, which was released in 2011. A Honda source told us that the current car is closely related to the Fit, with its torsion beam rear suspension and its smaller footprint compared to the North American Civic. It was never intended to be sent to North America.

Our North American hatch is merely a low volume play to help absorb some capacity at an underutilized plant. The low volume, poor exchange rate with the British Pound and the thin margins in the compact car market make it difficult to rationalize this move any other way. Aside from the fact that a UK-built Civic Type-R would be hideously expensive given those factors, the current Civic hatchback is at the end of its life cycle as well. Maybe we’ll see the next Civic Type-R, but it won’t be the one that was just unveiled.

 

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49 Comments on “Next-Generation Honda Civic Will Get UK-Built 5-Door For North America...”


  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Ok I can’t see this AND a new improved CRZ both being offered for sale in hatchback-averse America.

    • 0 avatar
      [email protected]

      Raising the suspension by 5 inches and putting an ‘X’ in the name somehow removes America’s averseness to hatchbacks, maybe they should try that.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Made in Swindon. Synonymous with automotive quality?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The last Swindon-built Civic hatch was quite reliable.

      Honda doesn’t really have much issue with plant quality regardless of assembly location. If you do your plant engineering and business process right, assembly location doesn’t matter.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Accord,Civic, Camry, Corolla, Tacoma all well built and reliable all built here at a time when American car makers were building crap, so location is not an issue, it’s the manufacturer, just look at the Mex VW’s as bad as all the others they make.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I don’t think the Honda UK models have had those kinds of reliability issues. Remember they were building Honda in the UK before the US (IIRC).

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      The Swindon-built EP3 hatchbacks like the one pictured above seem to have held up pretty reasonably. Some synchro issues common to a lot of the hi-po Hondas (Accord v6 6spd, Civic Si, 1st gen TSX), and issues with catalytic converters and O2 sensors failing prematurely. For cars that are now 10+ years old, that’s a pretty short list!

      I’d be curious to see what this 5 door looks like in production guise, maybe I’ll give it a spin at the dealer. This situation sort of sounds like the Hyundai Elantra Touring, that was the Euro-market i30 that was sold here for a while.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That Elantra Touring is a pretty upmarket looking vehicle, especially in red. It has pretty nice exterior trim, and I could easily see it carrying off a better badge.

        The woman who cuts my hair has one, and loves it except for the head room – she said it’s really the only disappointment.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I agree, I think that Elantra Touring is a fantastic little wagon, and like you said, has a distinctly handsome European look to it. My complaint is that they are a tad thirsty for what that engine makes HP wise, and that the 5spds were geared incredibly shortly. I think they barely get 30 mpg highway!

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            The arrival of the 1.6T + 7 spd DCT should take care of that.

            I’m hoping for the next gen Forte hatch, that Kia just brings over the next gen cee’d/Pro_cee’d instead of doing an inferior model for the NA market (and keep the IRS – no torsion beam substitution).

            Sure, will result in a bit of a higher price as Euro models tend to be, but the dashstrokers would take thar trade.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’ve seen some head gasket issues on them (2 different cars). Not sure if a widespread issue as those cars aren’t common, but there’s two data points.

    • 0 avatar
      ThisWas

      Our 2006 Honda CR-V, purchased new here in New England, was built in the Swindon factory. Now at 106,000 miles, it has been the most reliable car we’ve owned.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The British Leyland Edition Honda Civic Hatchback.

      Now available in the U.S. with itchy, red cloth interior trim. Sh!t just got real, yo.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      “Swindon …..quality”

      Yes.

      Honda has had a plant in Swindon for over 25 years, so why on earth would you equate the place with poor quality? It’s where they remade Legends after BMC had made a first pass at assembling them, as CAR Magazine published back in about 1990.

      Also, over a decade ago, an English made Civic Si was sold in Canada for a while. Dumpy looking thing compared to the regular Civic sold at the time, so nobody bought it.

      I wonder what engine they will put in the Civic hatchback. A 1.6 diesel is the usual engine – maybe they’ll go straight to the new gas 1.5l turbo.

      Everything but the pound has cratered versus the dollar – so as Derek says, it’ll be an expensive import for Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      My last Honda was a 2005 Civic si (Swindon-built) – reliable as a anvil. All I had to do was change fluids and brake pads. It had 170K miles on it when I traded it for my GTI. The GTI on the other hand…

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        To bad Honda does not offer anything to compare to that old Civic Si hatchback, the old ones were bulletproof. The new Civic Si, is ok. But, still has the odd cheap looking dash and cannot get satellite radio unless you get navigation.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “The “all-new” Type R is being released at the end of the lifecycle of the current Civic hatch, which was released in 2011. A Honda source told us that the current car is closely related to the Fit, with its torsion beam rear suspension and its smaller footprint compared to the North American Civic. It was never intended to be sent to North America.”

    This is pretty well-understood. The European Civic uses the Fit’s torsion beam to allow for the Fit’s magic seats and very low floor. In a small, front-drive car, a torsion beam is a fine option: it saves space, weight and cost. It isn’t a huge, heavy hunk of metal like the Mustang or Lincoln Town Car.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I saw a brand new Fit yesterday, and while it was in a ghastly yellow color, the styling at least from the front doors on back is not too bad. The rear is now distinctly Volvo-y.

    I think I see enough Fits to not miss the Civic hatch. There can’t be much size difference, right?

    And on that final SI hatch up there – always hated that style, and thought it looked particularly cobbled-together and derpy. It has not aged as well as the sedan version.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I’m curious to test drive a 2015 Fit, there was a useful bump in HP up to 130 now, but I hate how the ever-rising beltlines ruin visibility and make the doors slab sided, prompting Honda to add awful “character lines” just to break things up visually.

      Also, the gearing on the stick shift apparently still has it screaming at 3500rpm at 70 mph.

      They are definitely the spiritual successors to Civics of yore, just look at a third generation (84-87) “Wagovan” and then look at the Fit.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        130 is such a small amount of horsepowers. As Clarkson might say, ha. 3500 at 70 would be a very annoying highway drive indeed, especially since I go at least 75ish.

        Come to think of it, they’re probably similar in size to the Wagovan as well. All those old cars just seemed larger because of their large greenhouses and blocky styling. I think the newest Wagovan you can get is either an Eagle Summit or a Nissan Axxess.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I thought the Fit was lighter than what it is… 2500-2600lb in this new generation, that’s just 100lb less than my Civic! Mine moves along pretty good with the 140hp 1.8 with the stick shift, but with the automatic they’re a good deal less spunky.

          Having said that, even the 109hp 1.5L in my dad’s 2007 Fit (stick shift as well) has never left me wanting, but turn on the A/C and all of a sudden you need a lot more throttle to move away from a stop light without stalling out. The key is to just keep the rpms at 2500+ rpm and they’re zippy little things, especially around town. And thanks to that super short gearing, on the highway roll-on acceleration is much better than the “109hp” figure would make you think. 3500rpm is right at the 12 to 16 valve VTEC crossover on the older L15 engines.

          I really want to WANT the Fit more as it speaks to my inner Honda-geek, my family owned a 1982 Civic Wagon, 1985 Civic Sedan, 1990 Civic Wagon, 2007 Fit. So a Fit appeals to me on a almost subliminal level, but they are just dreadful highway cars for burning up miles in the flat wastelands of Indiana. My Civic does a passable job but I can’t help but eye used Accord Sports now and again.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        I tested out a new Fit a couple month’s ago. Interior was nicer then the old, and great visibility. But, still was very loud due poor insulation/wind noise and a not so Honda like trashy engine note. It did have leather with heated seats which was nice at that price point. The salesman strangely said something about it being made in Mexico, when I said something about wind noise. I said, that should not matter on the location of final assembly. He dropped it, and tried talking about new interior.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      It wouldn’t be that much bigger, but an inch here and there would help. The current Fit is a bit tight in the front foot well, and the trunk is smaller than the previous Gen. More than anything, it would be nice to have the larger platform to absorb some sound insulation; something as practical as the current Fit, but a more civilized on the highway. In any case, the current UK Civic does a far better job with its interior than the U.S. version; hope that carries over.

    • 0 avatar
      Tinn-Can

      My girlfriend is waiting for a financing deal to roll around to pick up a 2015 Fit… It’s an OK car from the shortish test drive we took. It seems even more twitchy I wasn’t all that impressed with it on the highway but she really likes it. Fit and finish are pretty poor honestly… The door handles had exposed screw heads that totally jacked with my OCD and the floor in the front has a bump where I want to put my foot… We test drove a new mazda3 hatch right after and it actually felt more cramped and had less usable storage space. This seems really odd especially since they are supposed to release the HR-V very soon as well…

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        Why doesn’t she just engage her bank or CU? Honda typically doesn’t offer 0.9 on models for the first few years (or as long as they are selling well). On a 17k car with some money down the difference between 0.9 and the ~2.3 my CU offers is negligible.

  • avatar

    This is very, very good news. Yes, Odysseys and Pilots still rule the roost, but I’m glad to see Honda offer more options. I’d definitely go for the Golf if I needed a semi-premium 5-door hatchback, but that’s because there’s not much else like it. A Civic 5-door, however, would definitely get my attention.

  • avatar
    CB1000R

    Fuckyou Honda. Not gonna buy until you bring over the diesel.

    This is the car I wanted 4 years ago when I bought my ex’s Mazda3. Might still get one, we’ll see. Will this be a one-off model, or is Honda finally feeling the hatchlove.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    With the sterling at around $1.50, the exchange rate for this is a positive factor. The pound is currently weak by historical standards. (Of course, it isn’t possible to predict with any certainty what it will be in the future.)

  • avatar
    frozenman

    For the Honda faithful a Civic Si hatch, made available in North America, is redemption for many of the company’s recent sins. Would likely be a very competitive hot hatch based on price/quality/performance metrics.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    What is the cargo etc. Size compared to the Fit?
    Am I the only one not seeing much diffetence to the Fit?

  • avatar
    CB1000R

    How high will they have to price/content this to not cannabalize CRV sales? Of course a CRV is what, $30000 these days, so maybe I am wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      CR-V? I don’t think many people will cross-shop the Civic hatch with a mid-sized CUV. Plus, Honda are just about to release the HR-V, a vehicle with a much better chance at cannibalizing CR-V sales than anything with a Civic badge.

  • avatar
    Chan

    The EP3 was one of my favourite Civics. That it was only available as an Si in North America gave it even more of a “forbidden fruit” appeal.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Should help Honda NA claw back from the Koreans.

  • avatar

    I don’t mind an overpriced Japanese compact, but I insist for it to be built in Japan. Otherwise, what’s the point? Might as well get a Focus.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      Who the hell is still hung up about location of final assembly? It’s time to move on, dude. Almost all the Japanese hatches are built outside the Land of the Rising Sun these days; currency fluctuations and shipping costs have squeezed the profit from building in Japan for NA and Europe. And honestly, my US- and UK-built Hondas have done nothing but exceed my expectations for build quality and reliability.

  • avatar
    mr.cranky

    I wish a hatch was already available. I might be looking for one down the road. I love my 2009 Civic but I feel like it’s a lot of wasted room that I don’t need.

  • avatar
    shadow mozes

    woohoo!

  • avatar

    No doubt the UK Civic is reliable, however I would not put a “Made in Britain” sticker on any car, not for the next five decades anyway


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