Inside the new Honda Civic
Recently the compact sedan segment has started to hot up in Thailand after going through a particularly boring spell. The Mazda 3 and Ford Focus are helping to liven things up a bit, offering youthful styling and hatchback versions. Although the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic are big sellers they are starting to appear dated.
Honda is soon to release the all-new 2006 Civic to the Thai market, and judging by these photos it's a big improvement over the current model, on the inside at least!
Usually when we look at a car the first thing we notice is the exterior. We take time to examine the lines, and comparing it to other cars we form an opinion on the car. Without getting too deep into the psychological workings here, let's just say that for most of us the looks of the car are very important.
The recently unveiled 8th Generation Civic hatchback in the UK, has the looks. The booted version for the Thai market does not. In comparison it's boring, and the exterior look of the car can be viewed as little more than a evolutionary update to the old body style. But things are far more interesting inside the car, because the interior design includes the same futuristic cockpit as its hatchback sibling.
One of the first things to notice about the new Civic is that the cabin is much bigger than the outgoing model. The hood is tiny, and from the top (see side image) it looks almost like the City. The effect of this is a lot of space between the front seats and the windscreen. This should have the effect of making the cabin feel spacious and airy, just what is needed when you're stuck in Bangkok traffic.
The images below speak for themselves. The view from the driver seat is more dynamic and exciting than we are used to in this segment of the market, and belies the cars rather plain exterior design. The driver might soon forget that he's in a conservatively styled family car. The dual level dials appear to be functional and clear as well as pleasing on the eye. Notice too the new positioning for the handbrake, right next to the gear lever. This looks sensible and allows the area between the driver and passenger seats to be utilized for stowage -unhampered by the handbrake lever. Neat, I think you'll agree. Owners of the Optra will have experience of the opposite when it comes to the positioning of the handbrake, which is too close to the passenger seat for comfortable operation. (I think this might be because they didn't bother moving it over when making the RHD model.)
Staying focused on the internals, a completely new engine unit is on offer. The 1.8 liter 4 cylinder unit will probably replace the old 1.7. Honda claim that the new unit produces as much power as the current 2.0 liter civic engine, but is more fuel efficient than the 1.7. I would like to see Honda offering a smaller engine option than the 1.8, but it appears that Honda might be aiming to move upmarket with this Civic, and it's more likely that we will see larger engines, not smaller.
We are also promised better dynamics and improvements across the board with this 2006 Civic.
Here are the exterior images that I've been saving until last, because.. well... they are not really all that interesting. The front is uninspiring, and it's not all that much better around back. Although it does look like an improvement on the current effort, perhaps even resembling the new BMW 3 series a little when viewed from the back.
This segment is getting interesting again though, and a new Corolla is probably not far off. Buyers in Thailand might be wise to sit tight for a little while. In 2006, things should get even better.