To celebrate the European launch of the new Honda Civic e:HEV, the model took center stage at Vanity Fair’s ‘Social Garden’ exhibition during Design Week 2022 in Milan.
“Vanity Fair always strives to be one step ahead through its curiosity and revolutionary spirit: during Design Week, we are pleased to welcome to the VF Social Garden dynamic and creative minds including the contributions improve and facilitate our quality of life, without neglecting the environmental impact”, explains Cristina Lucchini, co-director of Vanity Fair.
“We are delighted to be able to introduce the Civic to the Italian public. The reception given to the car is fabulous and our presence at Milan Design Week gives us the opportunity to talk to design-loving customers,” explains Simone Mattogno, Managing Director of the Automotive Division in Italy.
The Honda Civic of 11e generation was designed following a unique human-centric approach in terms of dynamics and design. In line with the design philosophy centered on “exhilaration”, Honda engineers have focused on the combination of exterior and interior elements to create a driving experience that is both comfortable and modern, with the aim of improve the daily life of model owners.
Launched in 1972 as a “car for the people of the world”, the Civic is now the bedrock of the “Man-Maximum, Machine-Minimum” (M/M) development principle. This approach, which is found across the entire Honda product line today, is that a vehicle’s technology and design must first meet the needs of the driver and passengers. On board the new Civic, this translates into new comfort, visibility and a feeling of space, complemented by enhanced safety features and improved driving dynamics.
Dynamic exterior design
Honda’s ‘exhilaration’ approach to development has resulted in a modern evolution of the Civic’s exterior. It echoes the design guideline, combining elegance and purity, already seen on other recent Honda models. The new Civic features a lower, sleeker roofline, and a lowered beltline that has increased window area and improved outward visibility, while still providing the same sense of space. than the original model.
To elicit the sporty aesthetic that usually characterizes coupés, the wheelbase of the new Civic has been extended by 35mm compared to the previous model, with a rear overhang reduced by 20mm and an overall height lowered. The highest point of the roof has also been moved back compared to the last vintage, with a gentle slope towards the tailgate completing the purity of the line.
“The key element of this design is the end of the roof. We had also thought of different shapes, ”explains Hitomaro Asano, designer of the exterior of the Civic. We had considered installing another type of window with two panels, in the so-called “hatchback” style. We felt that the design would elicit a sense of well-being and elation at first glance. The car should not give the impression of lacking character, but that of having been drawn with a single stroke of a pencil. »
The resin tailgate, developed using a new manufacturing technology, has been made 20% lighter than the previous model and plays an essential role in the purity of the car’s silhouette. This understated yet seamless design approach is also noticeable at the front of the vehicle; compared to the previous generation, the bonnet and front wing have been lowered by 25mm and the A-pillars moved back by 50mm, giving the driver a wide and uninterrupted field of vision. Thanks to this reduction in frontal mass, the wheels and tires appear wider, and, combined with the rear track and the more flared wheel arches, create a lower and more assertive silhouette with an increased impression of agility.
“The main objective was to give this new Civic a youthful and sporty look, which is the very philosophy of the model,” continues Asano. “So we designed a very bold front end while making the upper part as thin as possible,” adds Asano. “It’s also a story of successive generations, because, despite the evolutions of the front of the Civic, I was looking for a common point, and I ended up finding it. On all models of previous generations, the upper grille was a little lower and the headlights were a little higher. We have therefore tried to reproduce this characteristic aspect of the model. »
Enhanced cabin comfort and functionality
Inside, Honda’s M/M development principle is exemplified by a human-centric interior, designed to ensure superior levels of space and refinement. The cabin offers better visibility and an increased feeling of space thanks to a flat dashboard, the positioning of the exterior mirrors and the large glass walls.
“Having adopted the motto ‘exhilaration’ for the exterior design, we thought about how we could apply it to the interior as well. We came up with the idea of what could happen if we considered it depending on the moment,” explains Yasunori Ogawa, interior designer of the Civic. “We thought if we could have a refreshing morning, a pleasant morning, we would feel good all day. It’s hard to feel good for a whole day, but if you stick to the morning, it’s doable. During our research, three key words emerged: purity, rhythm and stimulation. »
The result: an interior design that embodies the pure, modern philosophy of the exterior, with a simple, user-centric layout enriched by quality materials and tactile touchpoints to enhance the driver and passenger experience. .
Despite the lowering of the roof, the height and the space in the passenger compartment remain unchanged compared to the previous model, thanks to the clever arrangement of the components of the hybrid drive in the chassis and the engine compartment. The generous load space of the new Civic has a capacity comparable to the previous model – one of the largest in the segment – while the tailgate opening is now wider. The result: a model with the space and functionality to establish itself as a viable alternative to larger vehicles, such as SUVs.
“The tailgate hinges are located behind the rear passengers’ heads, which is inevitably a constraint, and lowering the roof is not an easy task,” adds Asano. “Of course, it’s always possible to prioritize design over overall consistency, but neither the Civic nor Honda wanted to make that sacrifice. We all agreed on the exterior design, the interior design and the layout of the components and then we set to work to make them consistent.
To start, we thought of placing the hinge on the outside of the upright. Then, the question of the closing line arose: when we imagined a refined interior, placing the closing line in the middle of the C pillar, for example, would have ruined everything. We really didn’t want to interrupt the line running from the front to the rear, so we suggested placing the closing line at the level of the quarter window, a solution acclaimed by the whole team, including the designers. »
Continuing this approach centered on attention to detail, innovatively designed air outlets have been placed on either side of the passenger compartment. They allow for greater and less intrusive airflow, while a metallic honeycomb-patterned air vent, placed across the full width of the dashboard, underlines the premium style of the model.
“One of the hallmarks of the interior design of the Civic was ‘purity’. It’s a very personal feeling, but since I joined the automotive industry, the presence of air outlets on the dashboard bothers me,” says Ogawa. “In the past, trains in Japan had fans. And the air outlets remind me of exactly that. Yet, in the interiors of some homes, these elements are hidden in plain sight. Drawing inspiration from these ideas for the design of the Civic, I introduced a honeycomb pattern along the dashboard to give a premium feel and to reinforce that sense of purity throughout the interior. . »
An effort has been made to create an environment that requires little movement from passengers once seated. The infotainment system is placed in the driver’s peripheral field of vision. He therefore does not have to turn his head to consult the information, which both reduces distractions and the time when he is not looking at the road, and contributes to greater safety.
“We took an interesting development approach on this occasion, and from the early stages we dynamically checked the volume and height of the human-machine interface (HMI) by installing several mock-ups in the car on the Honda factory site to test the ergonomic setup and ease of interacting with the controls, as well as to ensure that visibility would be optimal,” says Ogawa.
Since its launch fifty years ago, the Civic has always established itself as a new reference, with more than 27.5 million copies sold in 170 countries. The new version will be marketed in Europe from autumn 2022.