Honda Brings Star Power to Civic Hatchback’s North American Debut

Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato

Fresh from its appearance at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, Honda’s Civic Hatchback made its first North American appearance in New York at an invite-only event on March 22, a day before the 2016 New York Auto Show opened for press days. Giving the event some buzz, Honda rented out New York designer Kenneth Cole’s event space “The Garage” and brought along Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas, who were announced as the headliners for the 2016 Honda Civic Tour. The 15th-annual running of the concert tour launches in the Miami area on June 24 and is set to tour 37 U.S. cities and into Canada.

The pop sensations took the opportunity to make a Honda reveal of their own, pulling the wraps off a custom-painted Honda Civic Sedan designed by Lovato and autographed by her live at the event. Lovato explained her design inspiration by saying she’s big into rose gold right now, and wanted the car to look like “it was once matte black, and that black has been peeled away by speed to reveal this really powerful rose gold colour.” The autographed car will given away to a lucky fan at the end of the tour, as will a customized Honda Grom motorcycle designed by Jonas.

Speaking of paint-peeling speed, Honda also announced at the event that it plans to campaign in the 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross Series. On hand to show off the 600-hp Civic Coupe-based Red Bull GRC car – which was developed by championship-winning race team Olsbergs MSE with technical assistance from Honda Performance Development – were veteran GRC drivers Sebastian Eriksson and Joni Wiman, and Olsbergs MSE CEO Andreas Eriksson.

The newly revealed Civic Hatchback, meanwhile, was promised a speed-oriented variation of its own: While most production versions of the car destined for North America will get a 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to either a CVT automatic or a six-speed manual transmission, the Hatchback will also be used as the basis for a coming new Civic Type-R.

Even in its normal guise the Civic Hatchback has a notably aggressive presence with a long wheelbase, short overhangs and lots of angular creases – features that help create what Honda Division senior VP and general manager Jeff Conrad called “emotional, Euro-inspired style.”

Based on the same platform as the 10th-generation Civic Sedan, the newest member of the Civic family will be built exclusively at Honda’s Swindon plant in the United Kingdom. The production version – which Honda representatives said might be called either the Civic Hatchback or the Civic 5-Door – is expected to arrive as a 2017 model in the fall of 2016, with Si and Type-R variants to follow later.

First Drive: 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Review

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Simon Hill

Simon Hill

Simon Hill rebuilt his first engine, an air-cooled Volkswagen, at 14. He started writing professionally about cars in 2009 and was also the editor of Boat Journal magazine. He lives in Vancouver, BC.