Re­prieve for hot Civic

It’s too dirty for Europe but fine for us, writes Mark Hinch­liffe in Thai­land

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On Road -

THE rip­snorter Honda Civic Type R will live on in Aus­tralia de­spite be­ing given a death sen­tence in Europe this week.

Tougher new emis­sions stan­dards mean Honda can­not cer­tify its high­revving V-Tech en­gine for fu­ture use in parts of Europe. An all-new Civic hits the road there in the sec­ond half of next year.

But the over­seas change will have no ef­fect — yet — in Aus­tralia.

Honda Aus­tralia says it will pro­tect fans of the car, which is built in Bri­tain. About 1840 cars have been sold in Aus­tralia.

The Type R is the last sur­vivor of Honda’s once-im­pres­sive per­for­mance-ve­hi­cle line-up, which in­cluded ev­ery­thing from the su­per­car NSX to the pocket-rocket CRX.

The com­pany killed the Pre­lude in 2001, In­te­gra in 2006 and the S2000 in 2008.

It even canned plans for a born-again NSX, though the car lives on— at least in shape — in the Ja­panese GT rac­ing se­ries where it com­petes against the Nis­san GT-R and Lexus coupe.

De­spite the loss of these cars, Honda Aus­tralia CEO Satoshi Mat­suzawa re­jects any claim the com­pany has lost its mojo.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant to ad­dress the po­si­tion of Honda,’’ Mat­suzawa says.

‘‘We are still fun to drive. That car (Type R) rep­re­sents our prod­uct.’’

He is not spe­cific on plans, es­pe­cially if Bri­tish sup­ply is cut, but says de­liv­er­ies of the Civic Type R and Si hatch will con­tinue ‘‘for now’’.

There is no con­fir­ma­tion of a Type R in the next Civic.

‘‘It’s un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, but we’re not sure,’’ Mat­suzawa says.

‘‘The CR-Z (sports hy­brid) is com­ing next year and that is a good op­por­tu­nity to demon­strate our en­thu­si­asm for sport and the en­vi­ron­ment.’’

The Type R was launched in Aus­tralia in 2007 and, with the Si hatch, rep­re­sents about 10 per cent of Civic sales.

Civic sales so far this year are 6695 cars at the end of July, up 12.6 per cent on the same pe­riod last year.

De­spite the com­mit­ment to the Type R, Honda Aus­tralia says the more pow­er­ful, Ja­panese-made Civic R sedan will not come here be­cause all Civic sedans are supplied from Thai­land.

Though in the mood to con­firm model lines, Mat­suzawa says the Leg­end and Odyssey will con­tinue to be pro­duced in Ja­pan, de­spite moves to­wards smaller-car pro­duc­tion.

But he rules out bring­ing cars from Honda’s North Amer­i­can lux­ury arm, Ac­cura, to Aus­tralia ‘‘at this stage’’.

He says a more im­por­tant ve­hi­cle for Aus­tralia is a mid-sized seven-seater SUV, such as the left-hand-drive Pi­lot.

Other prod­ucts Mat­suzawa has pen­cilled-in for Aus­tralia in­clude the Jazz hy­brid and a sub-com­pact ‘‘ eco’’ car be­ing made in In­dia and Thai­land.

Life­line: Aus­tralian sup­plies of the Type R Civic are safe for now.

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