Since the 1996 Civic debuted, Honda's small car has set the pace in the subcompact class due largely to its quality, efficiency, pleasant road manners and comfortable cabin. More than 300,000 Civics roll out of Honda's North American production plants each year, placing the Civic among the top five best-sellers. Despite this success, stylists and engineers at Honda in Japan and Ohio have spent the past three years developing new versions of the Civic that arrive as 2001 models. Their goal is to improve quality by a factor of 10. The idea driving these new designs is to maximize space for people and minimize the room required for mechanical systems, produce larger but more efficient engines, increase safety systems and comfort features, and enhance the manufacturing process by constructing fine cars with refined components and body panels that fit together precisely. As a result, the new Civics, conforming strictly to four-door sedan and two-door coupe styles, increases in engine displacement, fuel efficiency, safety, cabin space and passenger comforts. Although exterior dimensions decrease slightly, the passenger compartment expands in volume to forge a more spacious cabin stocked with comfortable seats plus new safety systems like dual-stage frontal airbags and optional side-impact airbags ($250).