The 2016 Honda Civic made its debut late last year in North America, powered by a 2.0 litre naturally aspirated engine and a 1.5 litre turbocharged engine. The 158 hp 2.0 NA – the base engine – is available with a six-speed manual, but the 174 hp downsized turbo is paired exclusively with a CVT gearbox.

The lack of a 1.5L turbo + 6MT combo was disappointing to certain quarters and enthusiasts, especially those who know for a fact that Honda manuals are among the sweetest shifting in the industry. Be sad no more though, as a 1.5 litre manual mule is currently undergoing testing, as snapped and sampled by the lucky folks at CivicX. The stick shift turbo is expected to be ready for model year 2017.

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However, even if a 1.5L 6MT combo is available from Honda, it’s unlikely that such a variant will make it to our market, as there are just not enough genuine stick shift buyers (many claim to be fans, very few put their money on it) to make a business case. The 1.5L CVT pairing, now being tested for the Indonesian market, could make the cut.

Regionally, Thailand should be the first in line to get the “best ever Civic”, which wasn’t just benchmarked against traditional rivals like the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra/Sylphy, Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Cerato, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Jetta; but also “luxury compact class vehicles” like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4. The Europeans were used as benchmarks for ride, handling, steering and NVH, as well as interior quality and refinement.

Test mules have been spotted in the Land of Smiles since November last year, and Honda Thailand has started the countdown by releasing a through-the-generations video and graphics of the famous nameplate. We’re expecting the radical-looking C-segment sedan here later this year.

GALLERY: 2016 Honda Civic