Honda has all but confirmed that it is gearing up to send British-built Civic five-door hatchbacks across the Atlantic and into North American showrooms. The move is expected to help the Japanese automaker turn around its struggling European division. But it’s likely not the Civic hatch you’re thinking of.
Looking at the Honda product lifecycle, we have good reason to believe the U.K.-built hatches headed Stateside won’t be of the current generation — it just wouldn’t make sense to extend the current-gen Civic life that long. Instead, what is much more likely is that Honda will be a global Civic for all world markets, much like Ford has done with the Focus.
Honda — once famously tied up with England’s Rover — has operated a factory in Swindon, England, for the last 30 years. The company was hit hard by the economic crisis that sent shock waves through the Old Continent a couple of years ago and its sales have been steadily declining since, hampered by a small lineup and a relative lack of image. The Swindon factory can build up to 250,000 cars a year yet it only manages to churn out 100,000 units at best.
Company executives ambitiously believe that selling the Civic hatchback in the United States will allow them to boost the Swindon plant’s output by anywhere between 30,000 and 40,000 units a year. Most of these sales will come from the Civic Sport (pictured), a sporty-looking warm hatch powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 140 horsepower. The U.S.-spec model will likely benefit from an up-sized engine.
An official announcement about the addition of the British-built Civic hatchback to Honda’s American lineup will be made in the coming months. The first cars are expected to land in showrooms in about a year and a half, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the model debut in New York.