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Can the Honda Civic be cool again?

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Can the Honda Civic be cool again?
Automaker plans to spend big to attract youthful buyers


By Kathy Jackson
Automotive News / September 05, 2005

CHICAGO -- Honda is offering the usual goodies on the redesigned Civic - more power, a fancier stereo system and side curtain airbags.

But what the automaker really wants to add to the car is youthful image.

"We're trying to make Civic cool again," says Jeff Conrad, vice president for advertising and public relations at American Honda Motor Co. Inc. "The last-generation Civic was vanilla, no emotion."

The four Civic models range from a hybrid to the nearly 200-hp sporty Si. The sedan and coupe go on sale Sept. 15.

Although the sedan clearly will be the sales leader, Honda is counting on the Si to bring excitement back to the Civic nameplate.

"The purpose of the Si is to reclaim compact-car leadership and to be a halo for the entire Civic line," Mark Pafumi, assistant large-project leader for the coupe models, said at a press event here.

Reclaiming leadership

New four-cylinder engines power all four models.

The engine will provide a 17-hp increase in the hybrid, a 25-hp increase in the base sedan and coupe, and a 37-hp increase in the Si.

The Si is fitted with a six-speed manual transmission, the first of its kind sold by Honda in the United States.

Safety advances include a body structure that Honda says minimizes damage in vehicle-to-vehicle collisions, side curtain airbags and antilock brakes.

Sound systems range from a 160-watt audio system with an MP3 player in the lower trim models to a 350-watt system in the EX coupe and Si.

XM Satellite Radio and a navigation system with voice recognition is an option on the Si, hybrid and upper-level EX models.

The Civic launch will be one of the most expensive in Honda's history, Conrad said.

Cable TV exposure

Three TV spots will begin airing Sept. 15 for the Si, sedan and hybrid. Honda will advertise on the Cartoon Network for the first time to reach 18- to 24-year-olds. It also is hosting a contest on MTV aimed at young buyers.

The launch includes "Civic Live" promotions in six undetermined major cities that will include parades and concerts.

"We're taking a risk because we're putting a lot of money behind MTV and Civic Live," Conrad says. "We don't know how to measure it, but we've got to be edgy and emotional. In the past, we may have said let's not spend that money."

Dan Bonawitz, vice president of auto operations for American Honda, says the company projects at least 300,000 sales for the Civic in the United States, of which more than half will be sedans. Honda sold 331,780 Civics in 2001, its best year in the last five years. Last year, the company sold 309,196 Civics.

Bonawitz says Honda is targeting young professionals and young families in their late 20s to mid 30s for the sedan; both young and older high-tech professionals for the hybrid; and twentysomething men for the coupe and Si.

Vehicle prices will range from an estimated $14,500 for the entry-level DX sedan and coupe to about $21,500 for the hybrid, Bonawitz says. The Si will be priced under $20,000, he said.

Mario Murgado, CEO of Brickell Honda in Miami, is enthusiastic about the redesigned car. "The fit and finish is nicer, and the interior is very special," he says. "I'm glad they made the Si a coupe. Americans love coupes; they don't like hatchbacks."

The hybrid goes on sale Oct. 5, and the Si on Dec. 1. A natural-gas version debuts next spring.
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The Si Coupe has potential for being cool because of its power, and it has decent looks. The outsgoing Civic Si is one of the nastiest cars I've ever driven. There's no other way but up.
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which is too bad because it is a pretty neat looking hatchback...
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I think it's been awhile since the Civic was cool. The 4-door sedan especially was very frumpy. The coupe was ok, but underpowered. And the English hatch never really caught on. They made an error in abandoning the hothatch segment.
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Civics were never or will never be cool. Hondas trying to target me(im 13)Becuase there attracting teen agers. They will never get me. Ill take a Used Focus SVT Over this. And definatly A Supercharged Cobalt SS will kill it. Ford and Gm for ever!
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Up until 2001 Civics were cool, primarily for their use of wishbone front suspensions.

Honda isn't targeting 13 year olds. Maybe you can go ride your bike.

Civics were never or will never be cool. Hondas trying to target me(im 13)Becuase there attracting teen agers. They will never get me. Ill take a Used Focus SVT Over this. And definatly A Supercharged Cobalt SS will kill it. Ford and Gm for ever!

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Since when did "cool and youthful" become equated with ugly and disproportioned among Asian automakers?
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Although the sedan clearly will be the sales leader, Honda is counting on the Si to bring excitement back to the Civic nameplate.


I find this statement extremely unprofessional and biased. How can you judge the sales an unreleased model that is completely redesigned from the previous model? I'm so sick of the media always portraying an environment of sales for the imports.

Although it's really not the first day that they're doing this... Edited by ToniCipriani
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I read that differently, meaning out of the Civic lineup the sedan will be the volume model.
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I guess the interior might be "cool". I just find it incredibly ugly. I was looking at the pictures on the Honda website and just shaking my head saying, "No no no... all wrong!"
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I really don't think so, not this time. Civic engineers really need to remember what made the Civic so popular in the first place. This car is so far away from the Civic formula that it almost doesn't deserve the name anymore. Honestly, the current Impala is truer to its heritage than the new Civic is to its heritage.
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The Acura RSX has gotten great reviews and manages a loyal offering despite dropping the double wishbones in front. I think the current Civic's flaws go way beyond the front suspension, though that is symptomatic of the grampamobile that the Civic has become. With the RSX probably getting phased out in the next couple of years, the Civic Si will need to carry the small sporty car banner for Honda. That's more reason for them to get it right.
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I read that differently, meaning out of the Civic lineup the sedan will be the volume model.

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How I saw it, too.

The SI will help the Civic lineup but the overall design of the lineup I think will drag it down. Unless the SI and other coupe versions are extremely easy to modify/rice up, I doubt it will be a hit.
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Civic, cool again? Hmmm.... I dont; think so.

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The current gen (now last gen) Civic was never cool with young people. The last gen (now two generations ago) was cool with young people to some degree. I can see the Si and maybe the coupe being cool, but not the sedan.
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They will be cool in the modern sense. The unfortunate thing is that the aftermarket turns 'cool' into 'trend'...and those tend to last less time because they are generation oriented. I don't know about you, but seeing a guy in his early 20's driving around in something he pieced together and FINALLY painted one complete color (except for the ginomous aluminum wing), thundering down the street with the fart can competing with his four 12" subs can be considered normal; that is, until the guy reaches into his 30's, for which he begins to look like a complete tool. The time-cycle is short, and it is not as big as it used to be. This new Civic may survive intact for a longer period of time just for being the car it hopes to be.
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Cool? Again? It would have to have been cool in the first place. Now if we're talking cool compaired to a Cadillac valiant attempt at an entry-level luxury car.... then sure... a Civic is cool.
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I think people have seen a bit too much of FNF and don't realize that new Civics were never cool. The cool Hondas were always 3-10 year-old ones bought pretty cheap and modded out. The appeal was that, for less than the price of a showroom-fresh Honda, you could have one that was more powerful, better handling, arguably better-looking, and 100% yours both in the custom and financial senses. Ditto with second-hand 1990s Mirages, Celicas, Cavaliers, Integras and to a lesser extent Saturns, Sentras, and VWs.

From what I've heard, the '01+ Civics are less fun to trick out that the old ones. The new one has decidedly chick car looks, which will only serve to make them less appealing.
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