Honda Civic prototype

The 10th generation Honda Civic is able to be significantly more stylish and sporting than today’s car because the model is traditionally the one where Honda experiments and tries new things – so does not suffer the generation-shift restrictions rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf do.

“The Civic has always been the Honda where engineers are allowed to try new things,” said the car’s chief designer, 39-year-old Daisuke Tsutamori.

“If you look at its history, it usually always looks different generation-to-generation. There’s always something new.”

The exception to this was the Golf-style evolution from the eight generation model to today’s ninth generation car – something Honda admits was driven by older customers’ preference for more of the same. This may have been a mistake, the firm now concendes. “The 10th generation model is designed to be more desirable to younger people.”

Built on an all-new global platform, the European Civic hatchback is previewed in concept for at the Geneva Motor Show by the Civic Prototype. Some of the more dynamic features won’t make it to mainstream versions of the launch car, admitted Tsutamori-san, but the basic sporting profile is faithful.

“It’s a dramatic change – the proportions are lower and wider, and the rear is much more inclined, almost a coupe silhouette. The overhangs are short and the focus is the centre of the car, which we think exposes its dynamics.”

Tsutamori-san admitted the style change wasn’t easy to get past Honda management though. “Management is not the youngest, and they were very concerned with ease of use, such as getting in and out.” Thanks to careful (and canny) design leadership on Tsutamori’s part, management’s concerns were eased when they got hands on with a full-size prototype.

“It may be sportier-looking, but we haven’t forgotten practicality,” said Tsutamori-san. “Our development principal is MM – machine minimum, man maximum,” an edict faithfully applied to the new Civic.

“Even boot space has increased over the current car” – and that’s despite the new 10th generation Civic returning to a high-tech multi-link suspension setup at the rear.