Honda Civic

Honda hatches a cun­ning plan, re­ports Damien O’car­roll.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

The Honda Civic has been a main­stay of the Honda ve­hi­cle line-up since it launched way back in 1972. The tenth gen­er­a­tion Civic launched last year as a sedan, but now Honda has un­leashed a five-door hatch ver­sion onto the lo­cal mar­ket, a mar­ket that re­ally does pre­fer small hatches over small sedans. That’s not to say that Honda hasn’t done well with the sedan. In fact it has done bet­ter with the sedan than most oth­ers man­age, with more than 800 sold here since it launched, but the hatch is cer­tainly ex­pected to add to those num­bers and even­tu­ally sell even more than the sedan. The hatch comes to New Zealand in sim­i­lar spec­i­fi­ca­tion to the sedan and launches in SX, SX Sport and RS Sport guises. The SX is pow­ered by the same 104kw/174nm 1.8-litre petrol four-cylin­der en­gine as the sedan, hooked up to the same con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion. It comes stan­dard with 16-inch al­loy wheels, halo­gen pro­jec­tor head­lights, LED day­time run­ning lights and tail­lights, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, key­less en­try with push but­ton start, a 7-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with phone pro­jec­tion, lane de­par­ture warn­ing and a leather steer­ing wheel with satel­lite con­trols. The SX Sport gets the same en­gine and trans­mis­sion, but adds a Mo­dulo or­ange body kit, 17-inch black Mo­dulo al­loy wheels, al­loy sports ped­als and tinted win­dows. The RS Sport is pow­ered by Honda’s ex­cel­lent new 127kw/220nm 1.5-litre turbo petrol four-cylin­der en­gine, that is also hooked up to a CVT. The RS Sport also adds 17-inch al­loy wheels, up­rated sus­pen­sion, piano black ex­te­rior de­tail­ing, shadow chrome door han­dles, LED head­lights and front fog lamps, a sun­roof, power fold­ing door mir­rors, per­fo­rated leather heated sports seats, drilled al­loy sports ped­als, am­bi­ent in­te­rior light­ing, dual zone cli­mate con­trol and a pre­mium au­dio sys­tem. The SX kicks off the pric­ing at $32,900, while the SX Sport costs $36,500. The RS Sport lands at $40,900. Un­sur­pris­ingly, the hatch feels ex­actly like the sedan on the road, which means a bril­liantly re­solved ride, re­spon­sive and con­trolled han­dling and some ex­tremely nicely weighted steer­ing. The high qual­ity, nicely de­signed and laid out in­te­rior of the sedan is also mir­rored in the hatch, as are the bril­liantly com­fort­able and sup­port­ive front seats. Un­for­tu­nately the per­for­mance of the con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion is also con­sis­tent with the sedan, so things tend to get droney and noisy when ac­cel­er­a­tion is re­quired, par­tic­u­larly when hooked up to the 1.8-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine. The 1.5-litre turbo makes a bet­ter fist of the unim­pres­sive trans­mis­sion and ac­tu­ally makes for a re­mark­ably pleas­ant and smooth ride around town. Out on the open road, how­ever, the CVT emerges as an ob­sta­cle for get­ting the ab­so­lute best out of the crisp, ea­ger en­gine. Still, while the CVT does put a dam­per on things, the Civic hatch re­mains a re­mark­ably at­trac­tive and con­vinc­ing high qual­ity pack­age that should only help in­crease the con­sid­er­able suc­cess Honda has de­servedly had with the sedan.

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