By on January 12, 2011

Having earned its place in the American market by launching focused products at its biggest segments, Honda’s 2010 sales performance proved the danger of chasing niches. In his remarks at the North American International Auto Show, Honda’s John Mendel insisted that

sales of the sporty and stylish CR-Z are also exceeding our expectations with sales of more than 5-thousand vehicles in the first four months. It’s great to see our customers embrace this vehicle … and our effort to push hybrid technology in a sporty direction

but besides proving that expectations for the CR-Z were extremely low, it’s hard to see what he meant. Expectations for the 2012 Honda Civic, on the other hand, are considerably higher.

The 2011 Civic marks the first time Honda has allowed its compact sedan go into a sixth model-year, and facing renewed competition from Chevy, Hyundai and soon, Ford, Honda’s 2012 Civic will be tested as few Civics have been tested before. But in contrast to Ford’s arena-rocking global launch for its Focus (and family) earlier in a 12-hour day of press conferences, Honda’s first unveiling of the ’12 Civic’s exterior styling felt like a low-key affair.

And because this was technically a “Concept” launch, there were only a few details released about Honda’s ninth Civic. The short version: next Civic Hybrid will mark Honda’s first use of Lithium-ion battery technology, and Mendel even had special news for the natural gas fans out there, saying

There’s a lot of talk about advanced technologies for the environment … well … the Civic GX is darn near zero emissions like an electric car. And it’s here now … in fact, we’ve had it in the Civic lineup since 1998. Further, natural gas is a fuel in abundant supply in North America. And now, retail customers across the U.S. will be able to buy the GX as we expand sales from four states to nationwide.

Other than that, Honda is saving any surprises for the actual launch. After all, this is not actually the new Civic… this is just a Concept. A Concept that just happens to look exactly like the 2012 Honda Civic. Luckily, the sleekly-evolved design seems to have exceeded expectations among a number of observers at Cobo. Niche product stumbles don’t seem to have distracted Honda’s focus on its core products…. at least in terms of styling. And as long as the Civic remains an attractive, reliable, efficient offering, it will be up to its challengers to knock it off its well-earned pedestal. Now about that efficiency… when will Civic hit 40 MPG?

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53 Comments on “NAIAS: 2012 Honda Civic “Concept”...”

  • avatar

    Are there any shots of the interior?  I have a 09 civic and I am curious if there is any difference.

  • avatar

    So did it get even bigger than the current Civic???
    Does the “Concept” have a Diesel?

  • avatar

    “When will the Civic hit 40 mph???”
    I recall it hitting that number back in 1992. My parents had a ’92 Civic LX sedan that regularly hit that mark.

  • avatar

    It’s decent-looking, and if it’s even a slight improvement over the current car, which is still pretty competitive, I don’t see why it won’t stop selling 250+k units a year.
    Personally, though, I’d probably take a Focus over this, unless Honda has some amazing specs up their sleeve.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed…seems like a pretty weak refresh to me. Honda needed to put their foot back on the gas and actually do something innovative here – diesel, vastly improved hybrid system, new-tech gas powertrains, etc. Instead, it looks like the same sort of lame makeover that Ford’s been giving to the Focus chassis until right now. I actually like Honda a lot and wanted them to hit something out of the park here, but that doesn’t seem to have happened.

  • avatar

    The new Civic actually turned out to be a good evolution of the current gen. Though I think it’s changed just enough to not be accused of being just a refresh. I was afraid for the Civic after seeing those spy photos of testing in the desert, but I can now breathe a sigh of relief.
    Unfortunately, a Civic hatchback is still missing, though I think the sedan looks ripe to bring back a sleek-looking wagon. Hey, a Civic Si wagon…there’s a thought…

    • 0 avatar

      Honda shot itself in the foot with the Hatchbacks.  They were popular back in the 80’s & 90’s until Honda in the 00’s made it in Si only trim and gave it the neutered dohc vtec engine, crappy tires / no more 4 wheel ind suspension and lots of body roll / usual Honda fading brakes.  Honda attributed its slow sales to people not liking hatchbacks which I don’t think was the case – it was Honda’s mistake to put the Si moniker on a car that never deserved it in the first place.  The hatchback deserves a come back with proper equipment.

    • 0 avatar

      Uh “jaje” The US market ’02-’05 Civic Si Hatchback had 4 wheel independant suspension.

    • 0 avatar

      Only the current European market hatchback Civics lack independent rear suspension. The US Civic Si hatch of 2002-2005 had IRS, as did the Euro Civic Type-R of the day. All current generation US Civic sedans and coupes have IRS, as does the similar JDM Civic sedan. The people I’ve spoken to who have the Civic Si hatches love them. They’re great real world cars, if not as high strung as the previous and current Si models. The current Euro model says a lot of what Honda thinks of that market. Instead of the 17 inch wheels, independent rear suspensions and helical limited slip differentials of our Si models, the Euro hatch Civic Type-R has 18 inch wheels, beam axles, an open differential, and a video game dashboard. Perfect for import tuner nights, not so much for driving.

    • 0 avatar

      I meant double wishbone front suspension b/c the change to the MacPherson setup was a step backwards.  Other drawbacks was the big gain in weight of at least 150lbs, having to shift to 3rd gear to get to 60, no LSD but the k20 had a lot more torque meaning lots of wheel spin in corners.

    • 0 avatar

      jaje + sideways eight.

      The lack of a hatch, and the change in the suspension is why when my last Honda gave up the ghost last summer, I swapped the H hood logo for a VW.

      I still admire the Hondas that I come across, particularly the ones with the stickers and the fart cans; there is a distinct doppler shift in the sound as I pass them.

    • 0 avatar

      I bought a brand new MY 2000 Civic DX hatchback.  Towed a 1500 lbs 23′ boat with that car, the back was great to fit all of my boat repair supplies, cruised at 100 mph loaded no problem, over 30 mpg.  Still wish I kept it but we had too many cars.
      No Civic hatchback = no Civic for me.
      Si Wagon – I like that.  No way in hell, they don’t want to interfere with CR-V wagon.

  • avatar

    I like it. It’s hard to tell from the pics, but the new Civic may actually reverse the trend toward less and less visibility.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    More like a refresh, but there’s no need for an all-new Civic. It’s still a very competitive car and in terms of engineering, it is Honda’s best. Glad to see they didn’t tart it up with a Crosstour-like beak. Stay classy, Civic.

  • avatar

    Wow…  I really like them…  Please bring back a hatch!

    • 0 avatar

      The sedan looks amazing.  I could drive that in stock form and be totally happy with it.  Like you, though, I’m a hatchback junky.  A 5 door Si would be a riot.

  • avatar

    Wow.  I hate to say that I find nothing appealing about these at all.  I’ve always been turned off by the “boy racer” look.  These look very bloated to me with all of the extra sheet metal and plastic.   Not clean looking, just looks hurried together with odd angles and lines.  Looks like something Mitsubishi would have put out between 2004-2009.

    On the other hand….in some odd way, I’ve found the current gen a slight tip of the hat to the 4th gen Civic.  I’m probably alone in this find though. 

  • avatar

    no hatch. Probably still an inferior mild-hybrid. What a disappointment.
    I hope at least they ditched captain Kirk’s cockpit.

  • avatar

    I once had passing interest in the natural-gas-powered Civic, but it has similar limitations as an EV in terms of fillup infrastructure.  You’d have to plan a long-distance trip around the locations of filling stations.

    Now that it will be available nationwide, I’m not interested anymore.

    And where has the beautiful Clarity gone?

    • 0 avatar
      Ian Anderson

      It may be available nationwide but the dealers that aren’t near a filling station still won’t carry them. At least I’m willing to bet they won’t.

    • 0 avatar

      I like the idea of CNG as a car fuel as well – it has a lot of potential in terms of lower cost to retrofit current designs, low cost for the fuel, and clean emissions.  The biggest issue is the chicken/egg scenario that we face.  No one will roll out a bunch of CNG cars if there are no filling stations, and gas stations won’t put in CNG pumps if there are no cars to use them.

    • 0 avatar

      Aren’t cng cars duel fuel cars which also can tank gasoline?

  • avatar

    It does not look interesting to me. It looks like a refresh of the current gen with perhaps slightly cleaner lines. I’d take a Focus, Gen VI GTI, WRX, or EVO over this non-event. Unless of course it has some magic under the skin.

  • avatar

    Just as ugly as the current one. Another useless sedan. Still the Star Trek dash. Meh.

    Honda needs to go back to 1992 and take some notes. I would actually consider something like the Civic SportWagon I test drove back then.

    • 0 avatar

      At least in the USA, there was no Civic wagon in 1992.  3dr hatchback and 4dr sedan only….

      …and you might not like the look, but the current Civic speedo/tach layout is exceedingly functional.

    • 0 avatar

      Then 1990, 1991, whatever, it was 20 years ago. I LOVED driving that Civic Wagon, I just couldn’t afford it at the time.

      But it is just as well, as the ’84 Jetta GLI that I did buy outlasted all of them ever sold in Southern Maine by about 10 years.

    • 0 avatar

      I just wish they’d get away from the god-awful digital speedometers.  There’s something exceedingly ogranic about watching a needle sweep a dial, and the current design(s) Honda is putting out is very much in need of it.

      Now I get to decide if I dislike it enough to not buy another when my ’04 needs replacing.

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    They need to get a dealer here in SE-PA to sell the NPG Civic, I know of some people around here who want one for an around-town car but the nearest dealer to sell one is up near Albany, NY. That PA is sprouting so many gas wells should get them selling here.
    Looks like a good car though, they’ll still sell a million of ’em.

  • avatar

    Any word on whether there will be an Si model?

  • avatar

    Back looks like it is slowly going out of focus in contrast to the current model which at least has a definite shape.  Aggressive aero tuning?  Feels strenuously inoffensive.  The front mouth treatment is already lagging edge cliche.

  • avatar

    So how big is it exactly? Of course they have Fit now, but still…

  • avatar

    Although Honda engineering has always been excellent.  Their styling has been rather shall I says unattractive and this continues the trend.  People will always by Honda for its reputation and not real world reasons.  In the real world the Civic is ugly inside and out with excellent reliability and mechanical. That’s it.

  • avatar

    So that’s what my daughter’s first car in 2017 is going to look like…

  • avatar

    I like to think that the Civic has always been Honda’s ‘best’ car.  I has to be the incentive to get prospective buyers ‘on board’ the Honda plate so-to-speak.  If there’s one ‘generation’ that downgraded the name, it’s the 7th one (2001-2005)—with the loss of the double-wishbone suspension—and resulting terrible ride!  The 5th generation (1992-1995) was, for us, the highest-quality car we ever owned—still in operation for our daughter at close to 300K.

  • avatar

    Very evolutionary refresh of the current model. In light of Honda/Acura’s recent design fiascos, they needed to kick it up a notch.

  • avatar

    A nice evolution of the current model, which still looks good after six years on the market. This, along with the new Focus, will probably represent the “class” of this segment.

  • avatar

    So their new hybrid will use a Li ion battery… OK, just as long as it works.  As long as they properly size the battery, as in the original Insight and original (2001-2005) Civic Hybrid- not screw it up and put in too small a battery for the ’06-’10 Civic Hybrid, hmm?

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