Spied: 2012 Honda Civic

When it comes to future product, Honda's product planners and PR reps are typically more tight-lipped than the old East German Stasi. But the Honda crew couldn't stop our spy photographers from snapping the hybrid version of the ninth-generation Honda Civic sedan, expected to go on sale at the end of next month.

As foretold by the Civic concepts on display at this year's Detroit show, the new Civic’s design will be an evolutionary take on the outgoing car’s. In fact, from the side it takes a trained eye to pick out most differences. The steeply raked windshield returns, as does the prominent shoulder line running the length of the car. The biggest change to the exterior is in the rear, where the last-gen sedan's awkward scalloped taillights are gone, replaced with bulbous units more like the rear lamps on the current Civic coupe. A number of pictures of ninth-gen Civics on a transporter in Japan have popped up on a Brazilian website, offering a fully unobstructed view of the taillights. We’ve embedded one of the photos here; check out Noticias Automotivas for the full set.

These spy shots also give a fresh look at the next Civic’s dashboard, which will stick with the two-tiered layout. The wraparound design remains as well, although the stereo buttons have been rearranged, and the central knob so familiar from other Hondas makes an appearance. The knob may control a redesigned (or at least upgraded) nav system—let’s hope so, since the one available in the outgoing car is pretty terrible, with clunky ergonomics and graphics perhaps best compared to that of old eight-bit Nintendo systems.

The hybrid version of the Civic seen in these photos will use a revised gas/electric setup with a lithium-ion battery pack swapped for the last gen’s nickel-metal-hydride unit. This material change should take weight out of the Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system, and given that and Honda’s claim that the new Civic will be lighter overall, we expect the new hybrid will better the outgoing model’s EPA ratings of 40 mpg city/43 highway.

Mechanically speaking, the rest of the Civic's tale remains in the mystery section. You can bank mortgage money on the conventional engine lineup being exclusively four-cylinder, but exact displacements and power outputs are still up in the air. In addition to the standard models and the hybrid, a natural gas–powered version also will be available, as well as a Civic Si for those in search of, you know, fun. The latter will again be offered in sedan and coupe forms. (Recent rumors suggest that Honda's 2.4-liter four-cylinder from the Acura TSX would find its way into the Civic Si, bringing a tiny bump in horsepower and a larger gain in the torque department.) Five- and six-speed manual transmissions will reappear on the Civic's order sheet, and we anticipate the optional automatic gearbox will have six cogs, an improvement from today's five-speed auto.

Thanks to: Car and Driver


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