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Gerald Irish's conversation with 2012 Civic Designer Toshiyuki Okumoto
 Date: January 14, 2011 15:20
 Submitted by:  JeffX
 Source: Gerald Irish
 Credibility Rating: Not Specified

Things have been crazy for Gerald this week so he just managed to get this sent to me last night.

Following the reveal of the 2012 Civic Concepts I got a chance to talk to the lead designer of the car, Toshiyuki Okumoto. Okumoto-san joined Honda in 1991, and was a project lead on one of the 90's Accords (presumably the 94-98), the 2nd generation Fit, and the 8th generation Euro Civic hatchback. Unfortunately I messed up the recording of the interview but here are some key bits I was able to recall.

Looking at the Civic concepts, they are clearly evolutions of the 8th generation Civic's design, which is indeed not a bad thing. However Okumoto-san said that at first they went with a clean slate approach for the new Civic before returning to the idea of evolving the current design. The current Civic had been so successful that they didn't want to ruin a good thing.

I asked him about the family resemblance between some of the character lines in the Fit and the new Civic. He said the reason for this is that the designs both reflect the Man Maximum, Machine Minimum philosophy at Honda. MM as applied to cars like the new Civic and the Fit, means that exterior dimensions are kept compact while stretching the interior space to give the occupants maximum space.

When Okumoto-san went on to describe his favorite feature of the design he said he was most proud of the interior view of the car. How the surfaces explode outward and the wide stance of the car. He stretched his arms wide to illustrate the curves of the car with his hands and talked about the energy and sexiness of the designs. At the same time the most difficult part of the design process was the clay modeling of the curves and lines of the car. It may not be apparent from the photos, but the new Civic has far more curves than any Civic before it.

Okumoto-san went on to say that the key words to describe the new Civic design are "clean" and "energetic". One can easily see how that idea was also reflected in the 2nd generation Fit and the current Euro Civic hatchback.

Oddly enough, when I asked Okumoto-san what were his favorite car designs on the market currently, he said he didn't really like anything current, but he was a big fan of the 80's Civics. And of course he thinks his designs are cool.

Since he had also designed the Euro Civic I asked whether he had worked on a hatchback version of the Civic as well. That was a question he couldn't answer, and I got the same story from the American Honda Civic product planner. My guess is that it will be unveiled sometime this year in Europe and that American Honda is open to bringing it here, but may wait to see how it's received. So when the new Civic hatchback bows I'm sure folks at Honda will be gauging the response at TOV and elsewhere.

Lastly, I asked whether he had worked on a the Civic Type-R variant of the new Civic. At this point one of the PR people almost jumped out of his suit to tell me that he can't answer that question but Okumoto-san rather cheekily made the my-lips-are-sealed motion. I think he's worked on the CTR.

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  • Last edited by JeffX on January 14, 2011 15:26

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