New Civic an absolute catch
The Civic hatchback returns after a six year absence in the an all-new form of an all-new one that promises to change the five-door C-segment here overnight, writes DAVE MOORE.
Honda’s new five-door Civic is the evolution of a car we never got in New Zea- land.
When launched in 2006, it really hit the funny bone in Europe – the market it was designed and built for – with wedgy styling, sexy triangular exhaust pipes, concentrically arranged dash areas, ‘‘magic’’ rear seats a la the Jazz super mini, and a hero Type-R model that used a naturally aspirated motor to outdrive turbocharged competitors.
Meantime, poor old New Zealand had at the time let its access to Civic five doors lapse as production moved from Japan to Britain, and our little market had to make do with what we could get from Asia.
As Asia was a mainly four-door market, Honda’s suppliers could only supply sedans.
Australian hatch fans managed to pressure their Honda people to fetch limited numbers of the hatch from Britain.
However, some private customers did bring their own posh Pommie Honda hatches in, enjoying a positive exchange rate and the knowledge that JD Power research reckoned the British Hondas were unlikely to go wrong.
Waiting until the spectacular wedgy Civic underwent its redesign late last year, Honda New Zealand did its sums and came up with an import deal that not only allowed them a profit, but enabled them to furnish a wellequipped Civic hatch to the New Zealand market for a surprisingly slick sticker of $32,990.
That’s for the entry point 1.8 S six-speed manual, with a turbinesmooth 1.8-litre engine putting out 104kW and an equipment level that leaves little out and includes very smart 16- inch alloys, this is no stripped-back starter model. It still fronts with six airbags, a full alphabet soup of electronic driver aids, a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating and a fully revamped evolution of the previous car’s marketstopping wedge styling.
A five-speed automatic version of the 1.8S adds two grand, while if you want heated seats, slightly simpler connectivity, and leather trim, along with lower-profile 17 inch rims and matching tyres, you’ll need $38,900 for the 1.8L, an automatic-only offering.
The redesign, which makes the latest hatch concurrent with the ninth- generation sedan which arrived here at the beginning of the year, effectively rounds-off its sharply- edged predecessor in order to improve aerodynamics and as a result noise, vibration and harshness levels, and fuel consumption.
On the outside, the sharplyedged side glasses are still there, but curvy wheel arches and slightly longer front and rear overhangs mean you’ll never mistake the new car for the old. Not that most New Zealanders know what the old car looks like.
At the rear, LED lighting does double duty as a wind harnessing spoiler, splitting the tailgate glass where the lower plane tries to make up for the high rear waistline, which can give you a worry or two for rearward visibility.
The most effective part of the aerodynamic improvement is invisible to casual observers, though if you can stick your head under the car, you’ll notice an almost perfectly flat under panel which has been designed to allow airflow under the car with less interruption, reducing wind resistance and lift.
Factor in the car’s price, performance and equipment equation and it’s a no-brainer, and that’s not even considering the car’s space and looks.
Soft wedge: The redesigned Civic hatch has more emphasis on smoothing aerodynamics than the severely lined previous five-door model.