DETROIT – Honda has raised the stakes in the battle of compact model supremacy in Canada with the debut of a sleeker ninth generation Civic, the country’s best selling car.
The company, which builds the compact in Alliston northwest of Toronto, unveiled the new 2012 Civic and sport Si coupe concepts at the North American International Auto Show here in what is clearly an effort to maintain a stellar reputation of building dependable and fuel efficient cars.
But in a bid to turn heads and shed past stodgy and boring designs, the cars feature cleaner crisp lines, steep windshields and wide wheel stances. Honda executives described the new looks as conveying â€œa more substantial high energy appearance.â€
Furthermore, the company hopes to expand the Civic;s popularity with the widest array of engine choices in the compact segment. The new Civics intend to meet the needs of an increasing group of compact-vehicle buyers with a renewed vision of a “Civic for all people,” the company added.
The popular Civic has led the car market in Canada in sales for 13 consecutive years but is facing increasing competition in 2011 from a number of players including the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze.
Last year, it still held a wide margin over the Mazda3 and Corolla despite the fifth year of basically the same model.
About 22 per cent of all new auto sales in Canada are compacts. Although sales dipped last year, industry watchers expect compact and subcompact volumes to increase again because of rising fuel prices.
Workers at the Alliston assembly complex have already started building prototypes of the new Civic concept and it should arrive at dealers in late March or early April.