THE long-awaited, next-gen Honda Civic Hatch has finally surfaced in Geneva, wearing massive wheels, fancy lights, and a trick paintjob to signify that this is just a concept car for now.
Australia-bound versions, including the as-yet unseen Type R hot hatch, are still at least a full year away, according to Honda Australia boss Stephen Collins, who told Wheels a few weeks ago that for the first time we’ll be getting the striking five-door hatch from Thailand.
“We’ll be getting the hatch from the same plant as the new sedan,” Collins revealed. “That will certainly help with making the car more competitive.”
Today’s Honda Civic Hatch is built only in the United Kingdom, making it an expensive proposition in Australia compared to direct rivals such as the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Hyundai i30, and Volkswagen Golf.
Collins has also confirmed that Australia will take the Golf GTI-bothering Honda Civic Type R after that model launches in Europe, sometime after April 2017.
“We have a three-phase launch plan in Australia that will put Civic back on the shopping list of small car buyers,” he said.
“The all-new sedan will arrive mid this year and then Hatch will follow, and then Type R. We aren’t able to confirm exact timing for the Hatch or Type R as yet, but these variants will play an important role in the success of this model.”
A staggered release schedule will see Honda Australia introducing the 10th-gen Civic sedan from Thailand in the middle of this year, at least six months before the five-door surfaces.
Growing in most dimensions, the Japanese small-car stalwart abandons its immediate predecessors’ Jazz-based platform for Honda’s all-new Earth Dreams small-car architecture, bringing benefits in space and packaging, as well as lightness, strength, and stance.
In Euro concept car spec, the 2017 Civic Hatch is a sizeable 130mm longer than the existing version, as well as 30mm wider and 20mm lower, improving the proportions dramatically.
A stretch in wheelbase and shorter overhangs also does wonders for the styling, which is now more contemporary, yet still somehow retains the futuristic flavour of the eighth and ninth generation models that saw the light of day in 2006 and 2011 respectively.
Note that their distinctive hidden rear door handles make way for more conventional items. Along with a longer boot area and larger back window that at last addresses the rear vision issues afflicting the existing versions, it highlights a newfound maturity for the 44 year-old nameplate.
In Euro format, the engine choices are likely to be 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol units, with the Type R of course gaining a 2.0-litre powerplant. A 1.6-litre turbo-diesel also in the mix. Suspension is likely to mirror the sedan’s MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear arrangement.
Project leader Daisuke Tsutamori calls it "a marriage of distinctive and sporty design, rewarding driving dynamics and versatile practicality."