Honda’s Civic pride

Hy­brid sales are looking ev­ery bit as good as the car, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

IN A TIME of seis­mic change in the car in­dus­try, Honda has de­cided its re­freshed Civic will sol­dier on with a light makeover. But Honda Aus­tralia is keen to push the re­freshed Civic’s hy­brid cre­den­tials, spokesman Mark Hig­gins say­ing the cur­rent Civic hy­brid has turned into the quiet achiever, with sales up 20 per cent this year.

It has sold 603 so far this year, up from 501 last year and in­ter­est has in­creased in di­rect cor­re­la­tion to the rise in fuel prices.

‘‘In June we ac­tu­ally out­sold the Toy­ota Prius in the pri­vate sec­tor for the first time,’’ he says. ‘‘Toy­ota has done a great job of pro­mot­ing hy­brids, like we have, but most of their sales are to fleets rather than pri­vate buy­ers. ‘‘Our sales are mostly to pri­vate buy­ers.’’ Hig­gins says a pos­i­tive in the Civic hy­brid’s favour was that it looked like the nor­mal petrol sedan.

‘‘The crit­i­cal thing is that our car looks like a nor­mal Civic and drives like the nor­mal sedan.’’

He says lo­cal dealers have been con­strained by a lack of hy­brid sup­ply, he says.

‘‘The bot­tom line is that if we could get more we could sell more,’’ he says. ‘‘But in the past six to nine months there has been a huge de­mand for that car in Amer­ica and they’re tak­ing most of the pro­duc­tion now.’’

The up­graded Civic sedan will ar­rive in lo­cal show­rooms early next year, sport­ing mild vis­ual changes and the same 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol en­gines as well as the 1.3-litre hy­brid four-cylin­der avail­able now.

The big­gest im­prove­ment is ex­pected to be the fit­ting of elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol — Honda calls it ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity as­sist — as stan­dard.

How­ever, Hig­gins says fi­nal spec­i­fi­ca­tions are yet to be de­ter­mined.

‘‘VSA is al­ready stan­dard on the Civic Sport,’’ he says. ‘‘We’re hop­ing to in­tro­duce it across the range, but con­firmed.’’

The Civic is a key car in Honda Aus­tralia’s line-up and has ben­e­fited from a swing to smaller eco­nom­i­cal four-cylin­der cars. De­mand this year is up 15 per cent and the range is re­spon­si­ble for a third of to­tal Honda sales.

Honda’s other ace up its sleeve is the nat­u­ral gas Civic, which is sell­ing in record num­bers in the US but is un­likely for Aus­tralia.

‘‘It drives and rides just like a nor­mal Civic,’’ Hig­gins says. ‘‘And it’s the clean­est in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine in the world.’’


is yet to be

In de­mand: the big sell­ing point for the Honda Civic hy­brid is that it looks and drives like the nor­mal sedan.

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