The 11th-generation Civic hatch has launched in Australia with just one premium-priced variant, with Hybrid and Type-R models due later in 2022
Now sourced from Japan, the new-gen Civic 1.5-litre turbo-petrol has a much more premium focus than before – reflected by its VTi-LX specification – and will be joined by a Civic e-HEV Hybrid variant in the second half of 2022, followed by a new-generation Type-R towards the end of the year.
Speaking to Australian motoring media, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins described the new Civic as “very sporty [and] a massive step up”, with the nameplate now being positioned clearly in the premium hatch market.
While the new Civic hatch’s premium price might come as quite a shock, it’s roughly in line with what Mazda charges for a SkyActiv-X-engined Mazda 3 X20 Astina hatch ($46,560 driveaway), though it’s several grand more than a lightly optioned Volkswagen Golf 110TSI R-Line ($43,760 driveaway without a sunroof), and $7300 more than the outgoing Civic RS hatch.
Interestingly, the list price of a BMW 118i M Sport hatch is $47,570 (before on-road costs), while a new-gen Audi A3 hatch starts at $46,300 (before on-road costs), meaning the new Civic is well and truly in premium price territory.
Riding on a development of the previous model’s ‘Earth Dreams’ platform, the 11th-gen Civic is all about expanding on that model’s long-overdue return-to-form for the Civic nameplate.
Along with a 35mm-longer wheelbase and 12mm-wider rear track, the new Civic’s suspension hardware has been re-engineered and its electric power steering improved to give the new model a polished, warm-hatch feel.
Supporting this upmarket sporting flavour is the VTi-LX’s equipment level, starting with gloss-grey 18-inch alloy wheels with Goodyear Eagle F1 235/40R18 tyres, complemented by alloy pedals and black synthetic-leather trim with red-accented perforated suede inserts.
The driver gets eight-way electric seat adjustment while the front passenger only gets four-way adjustment, with both front seats being heated. There’s also ambient door and front-footwell lighting, an acoustic windscreen, heated/auto-folding mirrors, dual-zone climate control with rear-seat air vents, and a 9.0-inch multimedia touchscreen (a Honda size record!) with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, digital radio, navigation with over-the-air map updates, two front USB ports (but none in the rear) and 12 premium Bose speakers, including a subwoofer.
Safety-kit wise, the 11th-gen Civic features blind-spot monitoring, lane-holding assist with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, auto high-beam, rear cross-traffic alert, knee airbags for the driver and front passenger, traffic-jam assistance, a driver attention monitor, and a pop-up pedestrian bonnet.
While the 11th-generation Civic shares its turbo-petrol drivetrain with the previous model, Honda says the uprated version is smoother, quieter, more powerful, more responsive and more fuel efficient. The CVT transmission (no manual is offered) has also been redeveloped to make it more responsive, with ‘step shift’ programming to simulate gear changes under full-throttle acceleration.
Producing 131kW at 6000rpm (or 134kW if you feed it 95 octane instead of regular unleaded) and 240Nm from 1700-4500rpm, Honda says the new Civic is capable of 0-100km/h in around 7.5 seconds. The combined fuel-consumption figure is 6.3L/100km.
Given the new Civic’s premium positioning and the fact that “it will play a different role to the 10th-generation model”, Honda Australia expects to sell just 900 examples of the VTi-LX hatch over the next 12 months – a very modest number that does not include new Civic Type-R volume.
Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said that 90 percent of the brand’s business going forward will be in SUVs, leaving it up to the new-gen Civic to “appeal to a new target customer – one that aligns with the move to a more premium positioning for the Civic nameplate and the Honda brand overall.”
Mr Collins said that in switching to an agency business model (where the company owns all the dealer stock – supported by national driveaway pricing), Honda Australia will be happy with 20,000 annual sales per year as it attempts to revive the upmarket brand image it enjoyed last century.
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