2009 Honda Civic – Click above for high-res image gallery

If you introduced an '80s-era Honda Civic to its modern counterpart, it couldn't recognize what it's become. But after decades of growing dimensions, Honda's going back to the drawing board for the next-gen Civic.

The change in direction was reportedly ordered last year before the global economy took a nose-dive by product chief Tsuneo Tanai who observed a rise in oil and raw metal prices. Once the financial sector hit rock bottom, the Civic emerged as a strong player, out-selling the Ford F-Series pickup as the number one vehicle in the United States in May 2008. Not satisfied with sitting back and seeing how things shape up, though, Tanai ordered his engineers and designers to scrap their plans and redesign the next-gen Civic to be smaller, cheaper, lighter and more fuel efficient.

The move coincides with Honda's re-strategizing vis-a-vis hybrids and electric vehicles, not to mention the cancellation of its V8 and rear-drive programs. But despite having put more people on the job, the decision to restart the Civic's development halfway through the process is sure to be a major setback for the company's lifecycle schedule. And not just for the Civic itself, but also for vehicles that share its platform, including the CR-V crossover, the Element sport-utility-box, the JDM Stream and European-market FR-V minivans, to say nothing of the upcoming CR-Z, Acura RDX, and of course the all-important Canadian-market Acura CSX.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req'd]

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