Even in a year when automakers got a handle on debuting vehicles virtually, the way Honda is revealing the prototype of its 2022 Civic is something new.
While most companies traded flashy auto show debuts for flashy auto-show-like livestreams, Honda is moving to the Twitch gaming site to let people know a new Civic is coming. And to hear Honda tell it, the move isn’t all that radical; it’s simply meeting potential customers where they are.
Honda is no stranger to the digital gaming and esports space, sponsoring both the League of Legends Championship Series and Team Liquid, which competes in that series, but this is the first-ever live global vehicle debut on a Twitch-branded gaming channel, from any automaker.
“This speaks to our efforts to create an emotional and authentic connection with Honda consumers in the places that they’re passionate about,” says Phil Hruska, American Honda's manager of media strategy. “They’re passionate about gaming, music and cars.”
Honda’s demographic data shows the current, 10th-generation Civic is the most popular vehicle, car or light truck among first-time vehicle buyers, Gen Z buyers and multicultural buyers. These are people who watch a lot on Twitch, and Honda got Grammy-nominated musician Cordae, who’s also a gamer, to perform at the launch for extra attention.
“We already have a really strong relationship with these younger buyers, but when you consider the gaming space has been growing exponentially in recent years, these younger audiences are really important and they are a perfect match for the younger Civic buyers,” Hruska says.
With all of this focus on how the ’22 Civic is being revealed, it’s easy to miss that Honda is keeping many important details about the upcoming Civic quiet for now.
It is not yet disclosing what the inside will look like, for example, other than to say it will have Honda’s first all-digital driver gauges, a 9-in. (23-cm) HD infotainment screen and a clean, uncluttered interior with minimal physical buttons.
We also don’t yet know what powertrains will be available: Honda is only saying they will be “more powerful, sporty and fuel-efficient.” The ’22 Civic also will have an “expanded suite” of the Honda Sensing safety technology, and a manual version will be available.
The prototype does suggest the new Civic will be going back to basics for its looks. The taillights move away from the noticeable C-shaped lights on the 10th-gen models and now emphasize the horizontal lines found in the rest of the exterior design, such as the low hood and belt line and thinner fenders.
The designers also moved the A-pillars closer to the driver by about 2 ins. (51 mm) compared to the 10th-gen Civic, dropped the height of the front fenders by about an inch (25 mm) and moved the side mirrors to the door.
These changes offer better forward visibility and return some of the airy feel to the Civic’s cabin, something earlier generations were known for, back when there was no such thing as Twitch.tv.
The 2022 Honda Civic sedan will launch in late spring 2021. It will be followed by a hatchback version as well as a high-performance Civic Si and a higher-performance Civic Type R.