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Frankfurt show: Civic hatch jumps ‘two generations’

Hatched: Honda Australia will introduce the British-built Civic hatchback - seen here at the global launch - during 2012, with launch timing and the powertrain line-up dependent to some extent on demand in Europe.

Honda’s new Civic hatch is a big leap forward and key part of CO2 reduction plan

Honda logo14 Sep 2011

By TERRY MARTIN

HONDA claims its ninth-generation Civic hatchback has “jumped two generations” ahead of the current model and describes it as “the first step” towards achieving the company’s ambitious target of a 30 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions across its entire range by the end of this decade.

In presenting the crucial new C-segment contender at the Frankfurt motor show this week, Honda Motor Co president and CEO Takanabo Ito announced that the redesigned hatch would offer three upgraded four-cylinder engines from launch in Europe early next year – a 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel and 1.8 and 1.4-litre i-VTEC petrol units – and that an all-new smaller turbo-diesel engine would be introduced by the end of 2012.

This is understood to be a newly developed 1.6-litre unit.

“Designed specifically for the European market, the new engine will further reduce CO2 emissions,” Mr Ito said, indicating that it could take the Civic hatch to below 100 grams per kilometre.

“Starting with this new smaller diesel, Honda will introduce a new generation of low-emission engines, renewing all of our automobile engines in Europe.”

As GoAuto has reported, Honda Australia will introduce the British-built Civic hatchback here during 2012, with launch timing and the powertrain line-up dependent to some extent on demand in Europe.

15 center imageThe Thai-built sedan will be introduced here in the first half of next year with 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol engines, plus a 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid version that will be the first Honda to feature a lithium-ion battery pack, in lieu of the older nickel-metal hydride technology used in the current model.

A bigger 147kW 2.4-litre engine available in North America is not on the agenda, but Honda Australia has confirmed that the 2.2-litre diesel in the European hatch – which reduces CO2 emissions by almost 20 per cent over the current unit, while improving performance – is under consideration, despite not being available with an automatic transmission.

Each engine in the European five-door range is paired with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the 1.8 petrol also offering a five-speed automatic.

The latter combination will be a certainty for Australia, where the Civic five-door (known as the Si) currently relies solely on a 103kW/174Nm 1.8-litre engine, and is priced from $29,990.

According to specifications released at the Frankfurt show, the 2.2-litre i-DTEC turbo-diesel has now been confirmed as producing 119kW of power and, based on internal Honda figures (on 16-inch tyres), enables the redesigned Civic hatch to return combined-cycle fuel economy of 4.2 litres per 100km when combined with the manual transmission.

CO2 emissions for the 2.2-litre diesel are, as previously announced, rated at 110g/km, although amid Honda’s protracted teaser campaign over the past two months it was announced that the engine would have a 110kW power output. Torque is listed at 350Nm.

All manual gearbox variants have a fuel-saving idle-stop system fitted standard, along with an ‘ECO Assist’ driving-style monitor (as seen on the Insight hybrid), ‘advanced fuelling control’ technology and hill-start assist.

The Euro-spec 1.8-litre petrol manual delivers 104kW and returns 6.8L/100km (auto: 6.3L/100km) and 137g/km (auto: 148g), with the manual CO2 figure representing a 10 per cent improvement over the current model.

Meanwhile, the 1.4-litre petrol can drum up a maximum 73kW and return 5.4L/100km and 129g/km.

Improved aerodynamics with the redesign have contributed to the Civic hatch’s uprated environmental performance, while measurements show that it is built on a shorter wheelbase (2595mm, down 25mm) and is 20mm lower than the current model, down to 1440mm in overall height.

Full specifications are still to be divulged, but the length of the new five-door has stretched 30mm to 4270mm and the width is now 1770mm (up 10mm).

“From the first Civic to this ninth-generation Civic, we have always challenged ourselves to give Civic a new value,” Mr Ito said.

“The new Civic offers a striking sporty design and class-leading utility created by Honda’s unique centre-tank layout, while now offering even more improved fuel economy, handling and comfort.

“We tested this car on European roads more than any other Honda car in our history. It is dynamic and stable. It is fun and comfortable with no compromise made to achieve these improvements.

“New Civic is not just an evolution, it is a ‘revolutionary evolution’. We have jumped two generations ahead of our current model.”

At Frankfurt, Honda emphasised the hatchback’s distinctive looks, higher levels of safety and entertainment technology and improved fit and finish, while claiming “unparalleled” reliability and class-leading space for passengers and luggage.

To achieve the latter, the Civic hatch retains a rear torsion beam suspension system, with the latest set-up using fluid-filled compliance bushes to improve ride and handling. Honda says it has also strengthened the rear suspension to give better stability, particularly at high speeds.

The latest model underwent a four-year development period, after which nearly all components are said to be either new or improved.

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