Honda’s all-new global 2016 Civic targets Mercedes refinement

  • 16-Sep-2015 09:29 EDT
2016 Civic unveiling Detroit.JPG

American Honda Executive VP John Mendel introduces the all-new 2016 Civic sedan at a Sept. 16 media event in Detroit. (All photos by Lindsay Brooke; for more images click on the arrow at the upper right corner of this image.)

Honda appears to have committed the resources where it counted to create the 2016 Civic. With a 4-link independent rear suspension mounted on a subframe, hydraulic suspension-compliance bushings, increased use of NVH attenuation techniques, and a visibly significant upgrade in interior design, materials, and overall finish, Honda’s 10th-generation Civic shows the automaker’s seriousness in raising the bar in the global C-segment.

American Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel unveiled the Civic sedan—part of an all-new model range that will also include a 2-door coupe, 5-door hatch, sporty Si, and high-performance Type R—at media events in Detroit and L.A. on Sept. 16.

“In developing this car—the platform was signed off in early 2012—we targeted not just the best competitors in the Civic’s segment but the best overall, regardless of segment. This was a very ambitious program,” Mendel told Automotive Engineering. He said Audi’s A3 was the primary competitive bogey, along with the Mercedes CLA. Mendel frankly admitted that the incumbent Civic was a disappointment to the company, being widely criticized for its use of cheapened interior materials and a perceived loss of the fun-to-drive character that helped Honda sell over 40 million examples since 1973.

This also is Honda’s first truly global Civic, sharing a common architecture, build process, and bill of material in all regions. Previous-generation Civics differed in many details between North America, Europe, and Asia, he said.

As reported in early 2015 by Automotive Engineering (see http://articles.sae.org/14040/), the 2016 Civic is Honda’s first application of its new Global Compact vehicle platform that will also underpin the next-generation Accord and HR-V crossover. Engineers working at the Raymond, OH, R&D complex noted that consolidating the company’s two highest-volume vehicle platforms will dramatically boost production scale, by millions of units.

The program, which was spearheaded by the Ohio team and led by veteran program manager Mitsura Kariya, also integrates a new modular approach to components and systems. The new sourcing plan greatly expands Honda’s use of global vendors, going farther outside the kieretsu than ever before.

The new model rides on a wheelbase that is 1.2 in (30.5 mm) longer and nearly 2 in (50 mm) wider than the outgoing car.

Two all-new powertrains will be available: a 2.0-L naturally-aspirated four featuring the latest i-VTEC valvetrain, offered with either a 6-speed manual or CVT (continuously variable transmission); and a 1.5-L direct-injected turbo engine, the first boosted engine offered in a production Honda, mated only to the CVT, itself to be built at Honda’s Russells Point, OH, factory. Mendel provided no details of the powertrains, other than to say fuel economy would be “several ticks above 40 mpg."

Civic uses the latest version of the company’s so-called ACE (Advanced Compatibility Engineering) body structure that is claimed to be 26% stiffer in torsion than the previous car and incorporates 12% ultra-high-strength steel. Attention was paid during early layout to returning to the classic Honda low-cowl driving position. To achieve this, the driver’s H-point was lowered by 20 mm (0.8 in) to bring it to the same level as Audi’s TT. Height of the floorpan, instrument panel, and engine mounts were commensurately reduced. Cabin volume is increased by a claimed 3.7 ft3 (105 L), with 2 in (51 mm) more rear legroom. Trunk space is 2.6 ft3 (74 L) larger than that of the 2015 model.

The comprehensive safety suite features available “Honda Sensing” active technologies including, for the first time on Civic, adaptive cruise control with a low-speed follow feature.

The new Civic will be built at Honda’s Alliston, Ont., and Greensburg, IN, assembly plants for North American customers. Engines will come out of Anna, OH.

Automotive Engineering will have full details of the car’s development and technologies in an upcoming issue.

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