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First look: Honda Civic Si Sedan and Coupe

Critical ninth-generation compact replaces spaceship design with swoopy, windswept look.

by on Jan.10, 2011

The 2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe is very likely to look very much like the concept unveiled Monday at the Detroit auto show.

Don’t think for a moment that Honda is ready to give up any ground in a compact market that it has dominated with the Civic, one of its two bread-and-butter products.

On Monday at the Detroit auto show, John Mendel, Honda’s executive vice president for sales, unveiled the exterior of the Civic Si  sedan and coupe concepts. While he did show an interior sketch – showing a slightly more conservative dashboard than the current generation – he said the automaker will officially unveil the interior later.

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The automaker is calling the cars concepts, but they are essentially the cars that will go on sale later this year.

Honda had originally planned to launch the ninth-generation Civic for the 2011 model year, but pushed it back for undisclosed reasons, meaning the car hasn’t been updated since it was launched for the 2006 model year.

Honda delayed the launch of the ninth-generation Civic until 2012.

“Civic plays a critical role for the Honda brand,” Mendel said.

In the meantime, Chevrolet has introduced the Cruze, a far more competitive player than the outgoing Cobalt and Hyundai has a swoopy new Elantra.

In keeping with the current design trends, the new car is windswept sleek, as opposed to the spaceship-like current model. A quick glance

Mendel said the Civic lineup, which includes regular and Si versions of the sedan and coupe, hybrid and natural-gas versions, will expand, but didn’t elaborate. He did add that the Civic would add Eco Assist, a driver-selectable system to help drivers be more efficient, to more models.

Hybrid versions will use Honda’s first application of a lithium-ion battery.

For the natural gas version, called the GX, Honda is planning to expand sales to nationwide and will be available to retail customers. Currently, it’s only sold in four states.

“The Civic GX is darn near zero emissions and it’s here now,” he said.

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