Automotive News Europe says the global platform at the base of Honda's new Civic is not quite as universal as some might think.

For European versions of the new Civic, Honda modified the platform to move the fuel tank under the front seats [a trick first used by the automaker for the Jazz/Fit city car].

The change created more cargo space, even though the new Civic is 35mm shorter than the vehicle it replaces.

Locating the fuel tank under the front seats forced Honda to route the exhaust system down the right side of the vehicle, near the rocker panel.

Civics for all other markets have the fuel tank mounted under the cargo area.

The eighth-generation Civic, in five-door form, goes on sale in Europe starting in early 2006. A three-door variant goes on sale in late 2006. Honda expects the three-door model to account for 40% of Civic sales.

The new Civic was styled to look lower and wider as Honda tries to appeal to younger buyers. The design has won a lot of praise among industry experts.

"I found the all-chrome front end on the new Civic a little overdesigned, but the vehicle proportions and surface treatment are simply gorgeous," said Giorgetto Giugiaro, Italdesign Giugiaro chairman.

Honda Europe plans to sell 120,000 new Civics next year, up from an expected 85,000 this year.

Honda will build the three- and five-door Civics for Europe in Swindon, England. Capacity will be about 100,000 units a year.

Another 20,000 Civic sedans with petrol and diesel engines will be imported from Honda's plant in Gebze, Turkey.

This move parallels Toyota, which sources Corolla sedans from the country - plus wagons and the Verso minivan - while building hatchbacks in the UK

Honda also will import Civic sedans from Japan equipped with its hybrid powertrain, which it calls Integrated Motor Assist. It expects to double sales of the hybrid Civic to 2,000 a year.