The 11th-generation Honda Civic is creating plenty of buzz in the automotive world. With new refined styling and upgrades over the outgoing model, it's brought fresh interest to what is Honda's most famous nameplate. The company has been working on a hybrid model for the Civic range, and a prototype was spotted in Japan earlier this week.
The news has the CivicXI forum abuzz, which posted the photos apparently captured by Twitter user @Rain_sti. The lightly-camouflaged car was identified as a hybrid by the sound of its electric motor as it pulled out of a roadside station in Japan. It was pictured next to a Honda Insight, suggesting the company may have been benchmarking the two hybrid models against each other.
Cosmetic changes are limited, with camouflage only covering the bumpers, sideskirts and some of the window trim. Historically, some hybrid Honda models have featured chrome surrounds on the windows, so that could be the very thing hidden from view here. Fundamentally, it's the same bodyshape as the mainstream Civic, but automakers love to add a few minor touches to differentiate models in the range.
Engine specs of the Civic Hybrid are unconfirmed. However, Honda announced in a press release earlier this year that the Civic will be only available as a hybrid in the European market in 2022, sporting a version of the brand's e:HEV hybrid powertrain. Previously seen in the Jazz, HR-V, and CR-V models, the e:HEV has paired 1.5- or 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engines with electric motors for better efficiency and power output. We'd expect to see something in the 1.5-liter range in the Civic Hybrid, so as not to compete with the power output of the sportier Civic Si model.
US Hondaheads eager to score themselves an efficient Civic Hybrid would do well to temper their expectations, however. As reported by Roadshow, it presently looks unlikely for the model to enter the American market. Speaking on the issue, a Honda spokesperson stated "At this time, there is no room for a Civic Hybrid in our lineup, as we have the Insight successfully competing in the compact hybrid sedan market today."
The present-generation Honda Insight was only introduced in 2018, built on the tenth-generation Civic platform. It thus makes sense that Honda may not be in a rush to compete with or drop a model that's still selling at a healthy level. According to CarSalesBase, the Honda Insight sold 23,686 units in 2019, dipping down to 15,932 in pandemic-hit 2020. Sales this year are up, with Honda already clocking 16,267 sales up to September 2021.
While the Civic Hybrid won't come to the US initially, that could change in future years if Honda streamlines its lineup, or if Insight sales drop precipitously for some reason. In the meantime, consider a trip to Europe next summer if you simply must drive the new hybrid Civic as soon as possible.
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