Edge of town

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Cover Story - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR

THIS is not just an­other new small car, a player in the most crowded seg­ment of the mar­ket — this sharp-look­ing sedan is make or break for Honda.

Hav­ing strug­gled since the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis — sales halved as ve­hi­cle devel­op­ment was halted — Honda’s fac­to­ries in Thai­land then got belted with trop­i­cal floods. Among the big brands, Honda’s was the sin­gle big­gest sales de­cline out­side Holden and Ford.

So far this year, Honda isn’t even among the Top 10 sellers, nudged out by Kia and Mercedes-Benz.

The new Civic ar­rives with a big task: to get buy­ers back into Honda show­rooms. On the sur­face, it’s giv­ing a good shot.

“We be­came beige and a bit bor­ing,” says Honda Aus­tralia boss Stephen Collins. “We need to get Civic back on the top of shop­ping lists. We want this car to ap­peal to peo­ple who’ve not con­sid­ered a Honda be­fore.”

The 10th gen­er­a­tion Civic is new from the tyres up and made in a new fac­tory — sev­eral hun­dred kilo­me­tres away from the zone of trop­i­cal floods that en­gulfed Honda fac­to­ries and the as­sem­bly lines of sev­eral other brands.

This, Honda hopes, means un­in­ter­rupted sup­ply of the new model. The first boat­load of sedans ar­rives in mid-June, the hatches in early 2017.

Honda has joined other brands by delet­ing the bar­gain base­ment sub-$20,000 model and in­tro­duc­ing a higher start­ing price.

Start­ing at $22,390 plus on­roads, the Civic is on par with the RRPs of the Toy­ota Corolla and Mazda3, Aus­tralia’s top two sellers. This in­di­cates about $25,000 drive-away.

How­ever, the Korean pair­ing of Hyundai and Kia are putting mas­sive pres­sure on the rest of the mar­ket, hav­ing lim­boed to $19,990 drive-away

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