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First Drive: 2012 Honda Civic


In 2010, Honda sold 260,218 eighth-generation Civics, or more units than Bmw sold, well, all told (220,113). In fact, HONDA CIVIC sales were nearly as much as that of the complete Bmw group (266,069), which includes Mini and Rolls-Royce. Suffice it to say, many an automaker would love to enjoy entire portfolio sales comparable to that of Honda's Civic.

 So you can imagine the challenges Honda faced when it came time to replace the extraordinarily successful Gen 8, which just happed to win Motor Trend's 2006 Car of the Year award. The ninth generation would have to take the nameplate to the next level, offering improvements in dynamic performance, fuel economy, interior volume, design, and safety. You name it -- it had to be better. Yet, if Gen 9 were too much of a radical design departure, it risked turning off the quarter-million-plus prospective annual buyers, sending them packing to one of many hot, new compacts from Ford, Chevy, Hyundai, et al.

 Honda opted for the safe route, which could prove unsafe if the HONDA CIVIC doesn't meet expectations. Gen 9's exterior design, which is meant to be distinctive, clean, and energetic, per Honda, looks decidedly similar to that of Gen 8, retaining the so-called "mono-form body." Why? Honda wanted the new model to be instantly recognizable as a Civic. Inside, Gen 8's twin-tier dash was kept, albeit significantly revised, to carry on the well-liked and well-established design theme. A large analog tachometer remains the focal point of the lower tier, while a digital speedometer flanked by fuel and engine-temp displays sits up top. New for 2012 is a 5-inch intelligent media info display, or i-MID, that resides in the right corner of the upper tier. Controlled via a steering wheel-mounted keypad, i-MID shows information for audio, Bluetooth phone/audio, fuel economy, clock, and upcoming navigation turns.

 Much of the 2012's resemblance to its predecessor stems from the exterior dimensions, which have changed not a tenth of an inch. Length (177.3 inches), width (69.0), and height (56.5) for the sedan are all the same as before; only the wheelbase, at 105.1, has shrunk 1.2 inches. The 2012 coupe's dimensions - LxWxH of 175.5 x 69.0 x 55.0 and wheelbase of 103.2 - are nearly identical to '11's, which differ only in width (-0.1) and wheelbase (-1.1).

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