Civic Concept Excitement Will Make it to Production; 3-Cyl. Still Under Study

CINCINNATI, OH – The “styling excitement” present in the Civic concept car that drew lots of positive feedback at the New York International Auto Show will make it to the 10th-generation model going on sale this fall, vows a top Honda official.

“The excitement that concept stirred…will be there when the production car debuts,” Jeff Conrad, senior vice president-Honda Div. for American Honda, tells WardsAuto in an interview during a ’16 Honda Pilot media preview.

While Conrad stops short of saying the production-car exterior will be identical to the showy neon-green coupe, he notes a lot of the concept’s styling cues will be seen throughout the compact’s lineup.

“Examples would be if you went back to some other concepts we’ve shown in previous years, from the concept to the production car (you) saw a good bit of similarity,” Conrad says.

The Civic lineup again will include 2- and 4-door body styles, powered by a new 1.5L turbocharged gasoline engine, as well as a hatchback for the first time in a long time and a U.S. Type R for the first time ever.

The high-performance European Type R has been coveted by U.S. Civic fans for years. While Honda isn’t talking specs for the car in this market, Honda Americas R&D President Frank Paluch told WardsAuto last month, “We’re going to try and match the competition like we always do.”

The European Civic Type R, a new generation of which debuted at March’s Geneva auto show, has a 2.0L direct-injected and turbocharged 4-cyl. making 306 hp at 6,500 rpm and 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque at 2,500 rpm.

The competition for the Civic Type R in the U.S. will include the Ford Focus RS, another one-time Europe-only model set to churn out no less than 315 hp from its 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cyl. engine when it goes on sale next year.

The 292-hp ’15 Volkswagen Golf R, which also makes 280 lb.-ft. (380 Nm) from its 2.0L DI turbo four is another Type R competitor.

It looks like Honda won’t take an additional step and further European-ize its U.S. Civic lineup by offering its 1.6L turbodiesel in this market.

Honda will bring a diesel engine to the U.S. only “when there’s a good (vehicle) match (for it),” Paluch says.

Despite the addition of a true performance model in the Type R, Honda is keeping the Civic Si in the U.S. lineup.

“There’s going to be some people that look at the Type R and say it’s nice, but I don’t really need that, want that, want to pay for that,” Conrad says.

Honda has given no hint of Type R pricing in the U.S., but the competing Golf R starts at $36,595.

The 205-hp ’15 Civic Si begins at $22,890 for the coupe and $23,090 for the sedan. reports the Type R isn’t expected until the ’17 or ’18 model year in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Paluch says Honda continues to discuss bringing its new 1.0L 3-cyl. DI engine to the U.S., which in 2013 was said to make 127 hp and 147 lb.-ft. (200 Nm) of torque.

“It’s a very, very cool engine,” he says. “I’m a little excited about it.”

Hypothetically, swapping that engine for the 130-hp, 114-lb.-ft. (155-Nm) 1.5L I-4 currently powering Honda’s Fit subcompact would “really raise the thermal efficiencies of the engine itself,” Paluch says. “Getting more power out of a small plant like that is pretty exciting.”

Downsized boosted engines are a trend in the U.S. that seem to show no sign of abating, as automakers work to achieve better fuel economy and emissions results in light of stricter CAFE standards.

While that trend mostly encompasses 4-cyl. units, a few automakers already are in market with 3-cyl. gas engines, including BMW, Ford and Mitsubishi.

Ford’s 123-hp 1.0L 3-cyl. in the Fiesta and BMW’s 134-hp 1.5L in the Mini Cooper won Ward’s 10 Best Engines honors in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

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