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Next-gen Honda Civic means trouble for Type R

Not hatched: Honda Australia is currently tussling with plans to introduce the current Type R, but the arrival of new shape Civic may shelve them.

Impending launch of new-gen Honda Civic may delay arrival of hottest ever Type R

Honda logo17 Jun 2015

By TIM ROBSON

HONDA’S Civic Type R hot hatch may still be two years away from hitting Australian roads, thanks to the arrival of the tenth-generation Civic in mid-2016.

Released in Europe in April, Honda Australia has yet to commit to plans to bring the fiery five-door hatch to Australia. Now, with the news that a new Civic is less than a year away, those plans may yet be delayed further.

Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said that while the Type R “will happen”, he could not commit to a time-frame, other than to suggest it would be some time after the arrival of the NSX hybrid sportscar next year.

“We're just working through all that,” Mr Collins told GoAuto. “I'm confident it will come. It's just timing. I think it's a major halo car for us. It's got a great reputation.

“I can tell you that, having driven the new one, the new one will offer outstanding performance. It will be a true Type R in every single respect. It's just a case of when.” The current ninth-generation Civic has performed poorly for the Australian arm since its launch in 2013. Honda sold 7878 examples in 2014 – a dip of 44.8 per cent from its 2013 figure. Its slide continues in 2015, with 1816 cars sold year to date, a 51.7 per cent fall from the same period in 2014.

The category leading Toyota Corolla has already sold 17,538 units this year.

Mr Collins said that positioning the next-generation version correctly is key to an improvement in its fortunes.

“I've got to be honest and say that Civic's been tough for us,” he said. “We've certainly got some activity happening in the second half of the year for Civic, but at the same time, we've got one eye on that, and we've got another eye on the next-generation car, to make sure we absolutely get that right.” The tenth-generation Civic will be the first designed, engineered and built entirely away from Japan. While details are scarce, a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Earth Dreams-spec engine is on the cards, as is a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-potter and possibly the 1.5-litre four fitted to the current Jazz.

A sedan and a hatch are certain for Australia, while the New York motor show coupe concept is not.

Mr Collins said that the ultimate aim for the company is to source its Civic product from a single source. Currently, hatches and sedans are split between the United Kingdom and Thailand.

While acknowledging that the small-car segment is a difficult one, Mr Collins said he believes that offering a consumer a wide choice is still the answer to success.

“I think for Civic, and I think in the small-car segment, what's really important is to have a breadth of model range,” he said.

“You've got to have a competitive entry car, with a competitive price. Then I think you've got to have good medium and high spec, and you've got to deliver the best technology. I'm confident we'll do that.” Honda’s biggest success of 2015 has been the HR-V small SUV which, along with other strong performers in the category, have contributed to the continued slowdown in the industry’s largest sector – small cars.

“Small SUVs have taken a bit from small cars, but at the end of the day, small cars are still the biggest segment by a fair way,” he said . “I think there's still very good business to be had in the short and long term in small cars.

“The market is clearly downsizing. That makes the whole proposition of small cars pretty attractive. I think it's simply just getting the package right: getting the money equation right, getting the spec right, getting the technology right, ticking all the boxes.

“You can't take anything for granted, but I think you'll be on the way to success in that segment.”

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