Honda set to bring back sporty image, strengthen ‘built in Britain’ message

Article by Christian A., on March 9, 2012

Honda UK chief David Hodgetts is seeking to bring prestige back into the brand and to intensify the 'built in Britain' message. These moves will be pioneered by the "sporty" variants of the new Civic, which made its debut in January and is being built at the automaker's Swindon facility in the United Kingdom.

The derivatives include a high performance Civic R and a tourer-style estate model. Also possible is the UK launch of the NSX super car within the next three years. The vehicle made its debut at the start of 2012 during the Detroit Motor Show.

Honda "has had a pretty tough time recently" with the delay of the launches of its new models because of uncontrollable events around the world that has adversely affected its dealers, Hodgetts told headlineauto at the Geneva Show.

He added that the dealers have been "extremely patient and loyal" and that they are "delighted" with the new Civic. He further stated that they now need to get the brand "back to where it belongs in terms of sporty, iconic models."

Aside from the Civic, the automaker also develops the CR-V and Jazz models at Swindon. The brand new CR-V will begin production in the facility in August.

Hodgetts disclosed that they now have to maximize the three platforms and get as many variants from them as possible. He further stated that they need to make "greater play" of the reality that the vehicles are manufactured in Britain. About 95% of the vehicles that the automaker sells in the UK are manufactured in the country, according to Hodgetts.

Honda’s current Civic model was originally launched in 2006. It had seen a change in layout approach, particularly with a new and unique platform that was developed based on a "center tank" layout and designed to offer practical solutions – like a large cabin space that meets the needs of "C" category customers in Europe.

That goes without saying that the Civic was indeed developed and designed with the European market in mind, and it was rewarded with positive feedback for areas like design as well as versatility and practicality. These areas have helped define the Civic as a model with 'road presence,' 'futuristic looks,' and 'multi-purpose' function, sporting a large boot space and offering multiple seat arrangements with its 'magic seats.'

When members of Honda’s development team for the new Civic started their research, they considered the key milestones that have been achieved with the current model and they opted to keep certain qualities as well as enhance some.

They wanted to come up with a new design that is emotional and has the ability to surprise customers and give them more than what’s expected when it comes to roominess and practicality. They also aimed to improve the car’s visibility and widened its field of vision to give Civic owners an enhanced overall experience.

The current Civic already achieved outstanding interior space, along with matching trunk capacity. The development and design team’s focus now is to maintain this class-leading interior space while also improving its space efficiency and overall packaging. The result would be a new exterior design, reduced weight that raises the car’s overall performance envelope, and improved aerodynamic performance.

Additionally, Honda conducted a focused research to determine the most important and the latest requirements for the European automotive market. In fact, both Japanese and European engineers and designers worked together all throughout the development process. The testing was carried in Japan first, then repeatedly in Europe, in order to provide sustainability to demanding C-segment customers.

Topics: honda, uk

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