Honda hints at sporty Civic hatchback

The Honda Civic hatchback concept has sporty design cues such as twin central exhaust pipes and a rear diffuser.

LONDON — Honda will preview its next Civic hatchback with a sporty prototype at the upcoming Geneva auto show. The five-door model will be rolled out globally next year including in the U.S.

The Japanese automaker today released a teaser picture of the concept that the company will unveil on March 1 in Geneva. The near-production concept has sporty styling tweaks such as central twin exhaust pipes and a rear diffuser.

Honda said the concept previews the production hatchback’s exterior design, but did not offer any more details. It’s likely that the most extreme sporty elements such as the twin exhaust will be reserved for the high-performance Type R model rather than the standard hatchback.

Unlike the current Civic hatchback, the new car will be built on a global platform, which will allow it to be exported to the U.S. from Honda’s factory in Swindon, England.

The hatchback will go on sale in Europe early next year. Sales in the U.S., where it will join the Civic sedan and coupe models, will follow shortly after. The Civic Type R will be exported to the U.S. for the first time.

The Civic hatchback is Honda’s No. 2 seller in Europe after the CR-V SUV but it struggles against rivals in a fiercely competitive compact car segment. Last year Honda sold 43,113 Civics in Europe, according to JATO Dynamics market researchers. By comparison, Europe’s best-selling compact, the VW Golf, had sales of over half a million.

Honda is investing 200 million pounds ($311 million) into its Swindon plant, which builds the Civic hatchback, to produce the new car for global markets.

The automaker hopes that increased worldwide sales will keep output steady after CR-V production is moved to Ontario, Canada, from Swindon at the end of this year. Switching to a global architecture for the hatchback rather than a regional platform used by the current car will reduce production costs, Honda says.

Media reports in the UK said the Civic hatchback will offer a version of the 1.5-liter gasoline engine used by the Civic sedan in the U.S. and a new 1.0-liter gasoline powerplant. European buyers are also expected to be offered a 1.6-liter diesel option.

The production Civic hatchback is set to debut at the Paris auto show in October.

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