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Honda to finally go diesel in Oz

Oil-burner: The forthcoming Civic Si hatchback will be the first Honda to get a diesel engine in Australia.

Breakthrough 1.6-litre to pioneer diesel in Civic for Honda Australia from 2013

Honda logo10 Feb 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

HONDA Australia is finally set to join the diesel fray, confirming the new thrifty but powerful Earth Dreams turbo diesel engine for its forthcoming new-generation British-made five-door Civic Si hatchback that – on paper – has the potential to serve it up to the Mini Cooper D.

While the petrol Civic hatch will arrive Down Under in the second half of this year – a few months after the Japanese-sourced Civic sedan that goes on sale next month – diesel fanciers will have to wait until sometime in 2013 to get their hands on the oil-burning Civic hatch.

Until now, Honda has been one of the few mainstream motor companies to stick entirely to petrol across its Australian range, with the assistance of hybrid technology in three models sold locally – the Insight, CR-Z and Civic Hybrid.

This is mainly because diesel has been largely restricted to Honda cars sold in Europe, where diesel is a must, while petrol-electric hybrid technology has been the preferred option for cars needing high levels of fuel efficiency in other major Honda markets – North America, Japan, China and South East Asia.

But with the new Civic on its way, Honda Australia has enticed Honda of the UK Manufacturing to serve up a diesel variant of the Swindon-built hatch for Australia, alongside a petrol version that is also likely to get one of Honda’s latest Earth Dreams range of engines.

15 center imageAlthough precise details of the powertrain line-up for Civic Si are yet to be disclosed, the diesel is certain to be the all-new 1.6-litre i-DTEC four-cylinder engine that will break cover at the Geneva motor show next month.

Producing more power and torque than the similar sized Mini Cooper D diesel engine that generates 82kW of power and 270Nm of torque, the 88kW/300Nm i-DTEC powerplant is set to replace the 2.2-litre diesel used across a wide range of European Honda models, including Accord and CR-V.

Honda also promises the engine will achieve sub-100 grams per kilometre carbon dioxide emissions, at least matching the current Mini D that gets 99g/km.

The Honda diesel engine will be shown in cutaway form at Geneva, where the European version of the new CR-V will also be wheeled out.

Honda Australia public relations assistant manager Melissa Cross confirmed to GoAuto that a diesel engine would be available in the new Civic Si, which is made alongside the acclaimed three-door Civic Type R flagship of the Civic range in Australia.

“We will offer a diesel variant in the Civic Si in 2013,” she said. “Engine specification will be revealed closer to that time.”

For years, Honda Motor Company resisted diesel as an answer to CO2 emissions because of diesel’s other vices, such as carcinogenic particulates (soot), smog producing NOx and toxic gases.

Even now, the company produces limited numbers of the 2.2-litre diesel to satisfy demands in Europe where it once contracted Peugeot to supply its diesel engine for Accord.

The new 1.6-litre diesel will be one of nine new engines in the Earth Dreams line up, ranging from 660cc to 3.5-litre V6, all about 15 per cent lighter and 10 per cent more efficient than current engines.

The line-up will include hybrids, including a plug-in version combining a 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 120kW electric motor.

Honda Australia will source its new Civic sedan from Japan in the wake of flood damage to Honda’s factory in Thailand – source of the previous model.

Ultimately, production of the Civic sedan will swing back to Thailand when the damaged factory is refurbished, but the UK remains the sole source of the three- and five-door hatchbacks.

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