2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe (© Rick Wait)

2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe

Honda is one confident automaker. While other companies bombard consumers with bombastic video overviews and flowery descriptions of their cars, Honda tends to be very low key, almost aloof, relying more on the quality of its products to create hype than the skill of its corporate spin doctors.

Take for example the 2012 Honda Civic, unveiled here at the 2011 New York Auto Show. Not only did the Japanese automaker pull the wraps off an all-new version of the super popular compact, it also announced that the vehicle on display was already in production and would go on sale immediately after the show. To put that in perspective, Ford unveiled the production version of its revised Taurus here as well, but it won't go on sale until next year.

Read:  2012 Honda Civic Gets Bigger Engine

With that said, Honda might be too over-confident. It could actually use a little razzle-dazzle and sex appeal. The "all new" Civic looks a heck of a lot like the outgoing model, which wasn't exactly a looker to begin with. But beauty is only skin deep, right? And underneath the 2012 Civic is a whole new beast, and quite an impressive one.

More from the New York Auto Show

2012 Honda Civic

Click to enlarge picture2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe (© Rick Wait)

2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe

Click to enlarge picture2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe (© Rick Wait)

2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe

Click to enlarge picture2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe (© Rick Wait)

2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe

Click to enlarge picture2012 Honda Civic Sedan (© Rick Wait)

2012 Honda Civic Sedan

What makes it hot? It's a Honda. And although it's not all that different looking than the previous version, at least it looks modern and distinctive. Honda is putting fuel economy front and center, not only with the low-volume hybrid — which now uses lithium-ion batteries — and the even more obscure natural-gas version — which is now available nationwide — but also with an HF model that squeezes every last ounce of efficiency out of a traditional gasoline-powered combustion engine. It gets an estimated 41 mpg on the highway. Even the regular sedan and coupe can manage 39 mpg highway, though. The high-performance Si model gets a larger 4-cylinder engine that's also more efficient than last year's engine, but bumps torque by 21 lb-ft.

What concerns us? Honda's slow-and-steady approach to improving its cars is certainly safe, but it can sometimes feel unexciting.

How much and when? On sale now, starting at $15,805 for a stripped down DX model, going all the way up to $26,750 for a decked out hybrid.

Our verdict? The 2012 Civic looks as lovable as ever — and still borderline boring. Like all the ones before it, this ninth generation will be a hit, no doubt. The added low-end punch of the new Si model is a welcome change.

Watch Video:  2012 Honda Civic Concept

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Matthew de Paula wanted to be an automotive journalist ever since reading his first car magazine in grade school. After a brief stint writing about finance, he helped launch ForbesAutos.com and became the site's editor in 2006. Matthew now freelances for various outlets.