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by Tim Beissmann

The first official images of the 2012 Honda Civic Si have been released just hours out from the British-built hatch’s unveiling at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Like the previous model, the new Civic Si hatch has been designed and developed especially for Europe. It will hit UK showrooms early in 2012, and Honda Australia is currently working on securing it for our local market. It’s unlikely to arrive in Australia much before mid-2012.

The new 2012 Civic hatch adopts a fresh styling direction. The front end is now reminiscent of the Honda Insight, with a large grey panel below the upper radiator grille. Despite the hybrid influence, the Civic maintains its sharp, sporty appearance, and now looks lower and wider, creating a stronger stance.

The side profile is similar to the outgoing Civic Si hatch, with a low headlight/high taillight wedge shape and concealed rear door handles for that coupe illusion.

The taillights now flow across the glass spoiler, while the rear panels include ‘blended body wings’ to enhance the hatch’s aerodynamic performance.

The interior is now much more refined than before. The plastic cover over the instrument cluster makes way for a more conventional three-barrel display, while the switchgear layout is less fiddly and more mature. Despite the enhancements, the Civic’s cabin still maintains its colourful, sci-fi and driver-focused appeal, and Honda promises it will continue to be as versatile and accommodating as ever.

Honda has already revealed the specifications of the Civic Si diesel, which is powered by a 2.2-litre i-DTEC engine with 110kW of power, 350Nm of torque, and a combined cycle fuel consumption rating of 4.7 litres/100km. Honda Australia is currently considering this variant for the local range.

The petrol-powered version will definitely find its way to Australia if Honda can secure the Civic hatch for our market. Expect the details of this engine, along with other specification details, to be revealed in the coming hours.