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Driven: Civic hatch to lift Honda’s fortunes

Battle hatch: The Civic hatch has arrived a year after the sedan and the range will be completed when the ballistic Type R lobs later this year.

Honda focuses on private sales with all-new Civic hatch


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11 May 2017

HONDA Australia says the freshly launched Civic hatch and the incoming Type R performance hero will help ensure the 10th-generation Civic achieves record sales for the 44-year-old nameplate in Australia.

The hatch follows the launch last May of the all-new Civic sedan, and Honda says in the year since its launch it has captured a 20 per cent market share in its segment for private sales, sitting just behind the Mazda3.

Speaking with journalists at the Civic hatch launch in Adelaide this week, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins detailed the car-maker’s targets for its Thai-built small-car contender.

“In terms of Civic hatch, over the next 12 months our aim is to sell 18,000 (Civics),” he said. “The rough breakdown of that is 11,000 hatches and 7000 sedans. The best calendar year was 2007 with the eighth-generation and just over 17,500 cars.” The booted Civic has captured about 800-870 sales per month since launch and despite its sales trailing behind the dominant Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and Hyundai i30, it outsold the Ford Focus, Nissan Pulsar, Subaru Impreza and Hyundai Elantra last year.

So far this year it has found 3475 homes to the end of April and is also tracking ahead of the Holden Astra and the Mitsubishi Lancer.

“I think once we get hatch up and running we would want to be doing a minimum of 1500 Civics a month,” Mr Collins said. “And of that, 60 per cent, or roughly, would be hatch and 40 per cent sedan.

“In the private market where we compete, that will put us right up there. To be amongst the top players in the segment, we need to be doing that volume at least. We think this car is capable of it.” Mr Collins said of the sedan sales so far, about 60 per cent were for the higher-spec 1.5-litre turbo variants, with the mid-to-upper level RS the most popular grade.

“We couldn’t be happier with sedan. Hatch won’t all be incremental. We think 10 per cent or so might substitute from sedan to hatch. But of course the hatch market is twice as big as the sedan market, so we are expecting pretty good things from the hatch.” As previously reported, Honda has kept pricing of the Civic in line with the sedan that launched a year ago, with the exception of the RS, which attracts a $500 premium over the booted version.

The five-variant line-up – until the arrival in October of the Type R – includes the VTi from $22,390 plus on-road costs and the VTi-S at $24,490 that use the carry-over 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol unit.

Honda’s newer 1.5-litre turbo powers the rest of the range that includes the VTi-L from $27,790, RS from $32,290 and the $33,590 VTi-LX.

Built on an all-new platform, the 10th-generation Civic is manufactured in nine locations around the world, with Honda Australia sourcing the sedan and hatch from Thailand.

Honda says that while the powertrain and architecture were developed in Japan, design and engineering teams as well as manufacturing and sales operations, including Australia, were involved in customer analysis that impacted the final product.

While the hatch’s front-end styling matches the sedan, it is unique from the B-pillar back. Honda says the roofline is taller but the rear overhangs are shorter than the sedan.

The new hatch is 30mm wider, 20mm lower and 130mm longer than the previous-gen Civic hatch.

Compared with the sedan it is 129mm shorter (4515mm long) and 5mm higher (1421mm), but its 1799mm width and 2700mm wheelbase match the booted version.

Cargo space drops from 519 litres in the sedan to 414L in the hatchback. This is much larger than some of its hatch competitors, such as the Toyota Corolla (280L), Mazda3 (308L), Holden Astra (360L) and the VW Golf (380L).

It has 60:40 split-fold rear seats and there is a unique side-mounted luggage cover in the boot.

The sedan’s chrome-heavy grille that is seen on all but the RS sedan variant is not offered on the hatch, with Honda opting for a sportier look of a piano black grille and large front and rear air intakes.

Inside, the dash, instrument cluster and soft-touch materials match the sedan.

Honda says the new model’s driving position is 35mm lower than the old hatch and the bonnet has been lowered by 65mm, while the A-pillars are 12mm narrower, improving forward and downward visibility.

Shoulder room is up by 10mm up front, while in the rear, shoulder room has increased by 20mm, there is 95mm more legroom and 45mm more kneeroom than the ninth-gen hatch.

Under the bonnet of the VTi and VTi- S is Honda’s carryover Euro 5-compliant 1.8-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder I-VTEC petrol engine, delivering 104kW and 174Nm at 4300rpm.

All other variants use Honda’s new Euro 5 DOHC VTEC 1.5-litre turbo-petrol unit that made its debut in the Civic sedan, offering up 127kW and 220Nm at 1700-5500rpm.

All Civics are paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), with no manual gearbox available.

The 1.8L Civics consume 6.4 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle and emit 150g/km of CO2, while the 1.5L engine drops that figure to 6.1L/100km and 142g/km.

Underneath, the Civic has a MacPherson strut front and an all-new multi-link rear suspension setup.

Front and rear hydraulic compliance bushings are fitted and Honda says they help improve ride quality and reduce road vibrations “without compromising sporty handling feel”.

Honda says noise, vibration and harshness levels have improved through measures such as engine compartment isolation, sound absorbing undercovers and acoustic separators in the A-, B- and C-pillars.

The Civic has an Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure for improved rigidity and crash safety.

Standard on all Civics is emergency brake assist post-collision braking, hill start assist, tyre pressure monitoring, an emergency stop signal and ABS, EBD and stability programs.

The Honda Sensing active safety suite, which includes a Collision Mitigation Braking System (autonomous emergency braking), Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, Lane Keeping Assist and Road Departure Mitigation is offered as standard fare on the top-spec VTi-LX.

This is the only variant that is offered with AEB.

The five-star ANCAP crash safety rating awarded to the sedan has carried across to the hatch.

Standard gear in the VTi includes an electric park brake, 16-inch steel wheels, LED daytime running lights, electrically adjustable door mirrors, a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB and a multi-angle reversing camera with guidelines.

It also features auto up and down front power windows, black fabric trim, cruise control with a speed limiter, single-zone climate control, eight-speaker audio system, a 12V outlet and eight cupholders.

The VTi-S adds 16-inch alloy wheels, front foglights, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, a blind spot monitor and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Moving up to the VTi-L adds paddle shifters, 17-inch alloys, electrically retractable door mirrors, auto headlights and wipers, rear tinted glass, DAB digital radio, dual-zone climate control and auto up and down power windows all round.

The RS gains LED foglights, LED headlights with auto levelling, 17-inch alloy sports wheels, central twin exhausts, front and rear under spoilers, piano black side skirts, electric sunroof, leather-appointed seat trim, heated front seats, drilled alloy sports pedals, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat and a 452W 10-speaker audio system.

As well as the aforementioned Honda Sensing active safety suite, the VTi-LX adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror and satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic updates.

Colours on offer for the Civic hatch include Rally Red, Brilliant Sporty Blue Metallic, White Orchid Pearlescent, Lunar Silver Metallic, Modern Steel Metallic, Sonic Grey Pearlescent and Crystal Black Pearlescent.

Honda is also offering an accessories pack, dubbed the Orange Pack, that it says is inspired by its motorsport activities.

Just 100 examples of the pack will be available for a recommended fitted price of $2998 and it is offered on all variants except the RS.

The pack includes an orange front under spoiler, orange door and mirror decal set, orange side skirt set, orange rear under spoiler and black 17-inch alloy wheels.

The $2998 Black Pack that was offered with the sedan is also available for the same hatch variants mentioned above and includes a black front under spoiler, black door mirror covers, black side skirt set, black rear under spoiler and black 17-inch alloy wheels.

2017 Honda Civic Hatch pricing*
VTi (a) $22,390
VTi-S (a) $24,490
VTi-L (a) $27,790
RS (a) $32,290
VTi-LX (a) $33,590
*Excludes on-road costs

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