Honda is testing prototype 2012 Civic hatchback in Europe

Honda is testing prototype 2012 Civic hatchback in Europe

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Honda said on Friday (29 July) it would launch the redesigned Civic hatchback at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

The model is already on sale in North America - as a sedan - following its show debut at the beginning of the year. It has reveived lukewarm reviews from the consumer media which has criticised cabin design and materials quality.

The European Civic - built at Honda's English plant in Swindon - will be sold exclusively as a five-door hatchback in the C-segment and will reach showrooms in early 2012.

In the build-up to the show reveal, Honda is releasing a series of short form films detailing its development. The first focuses on ride & handling developed in Europe.

"Working closely with European colleagues and external experts, the Japanese development team analysed the current Civic's performance. This led to a focus on improving the ride quality of the new Civic, while retaining the sporty handling of the current model," the automaker said.

"Engineers were conscious that European roads are some of the most varied in the world, mixing fast highways with poorly surfaced country lanes. Initial testing was carried out at the research and development facilities in Japan, before the development team transferred to Europe to finalise the car."

"Every time we visited Europe during the development of the car, we achieved significant improvements in the ride and handling, tuning the car for the local demands," said chassis team leader Kazuo Sunaoshi.

"The new Civic is not just an evolution. In terms of ride quality, we have taken a major step forwards, equivalent to two generations of development."

Honda claims the new Civic retains the largest cabin space within the C-segment by using the compact torsion beam rear suspension from the current model.

To further improve body control and stability at high speeds, the wall thickness of the torsion beam and the diameter of the stabiliser bar have been increased. In addition, overall ride comfort and handling have been developed through the introduction of new fluid filled compliance bushings to the rear suspension system.

Honda has yet to release photos and the car in the first video is well disguised but there is a glimpse of the rear cabin with fold-up cushions, like the Jazz/Fit, which allows tall items like large pot plants to be carried upright.