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.

Kapi-Mana News - - MOTORING -

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.

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