Honda will showcase its all-new Civic in five-door hatchback form at the Paris auto show.
The Civic uses a brand new platform that features an extended wheelbase of 2680mm for the three- and five-door versions. That compares with a wheelbase of 2620mm for the outgoing models. But, overall, the new Civic is a little shorter than the car it replaces.
Next year's additions to the Civic range will include a three-door hatchback, four-door sedan and coupe.
Although sharing a single platform, each of the four versions of the Civic features a distinctive design. A wide range of regional markets offered feedback on the Civic's styling to make sure it conformed to local tastes. Honda's European design center in Frankfurt played a major role in the final look of the car - especially its interior.
The new European Civic five-door is being built at Swindon, England. The car is characterized by its snub-nosed front and high architecture, allowing Honda to maximize interior space.
An unusual feature of the new Civic is its flat floor. This gives the car highly practical interior, with what Honda calls 'walk-through capabilities.'
The flat floor was created by repositioning the exhaust pipe pre-silencer alongside the fuel tank. Honda claims no loss in torsional rigidity from the flat floor design.
To maximize the use of interior space, Honda has mounted the gear lever on the dashboard in three- and five-door versions. Electronic power steering is standard.
The new European Civic features a new range of gasoline engines that comply with 2005 Euro IV emission regulations.
Sizes range from 1.4-liters to 2.0-liters. To start with, the five-door Civic will be equipped with 1.4- and 1.6-liter engines.
But the new Civic is also a global car. Underneath, the Paris show car is basically the same as the car that will be sold in Asia and the USA. This represents a major change from the previous generation European Civic, which was substantially different from other versions.
Honda says it expects the new Civic to gain a top four-star rating in the Euro-NCAP (New Car Assessment Program). In previous tests, the outgoing Civic was criticized for not offering enough pedestrian protection.
So far, Honda has made 13 million Civics worldwide. The new car represents the seventh generation of the model.
The five-door Civic will go on sale in major European markets early next year. The three-door version will make its debut at the Geneva auto show in March 2001 and will go on sale the following autumn.
The four-door sedan will follow shortly afterward. It will only be sold in selected European countries such as Portugal and Poland.
Honda's global production target for the new Civic is 700,000 units in 2001.