NZ-set Civic hatch revealed

New Zealand is down to see the new Civic hatch around mid-2017, the distributor has announced.


THE hatchback edition of the Civic just released to New Zealand in sedan form will arrive next year in two flavours.

In addition to the orthodox edition seen here, Honda New Zealand is also planning to release a searing Type R flagship.

Asked for local market information about the five-door bodyshape following the release of the images here, Honda New Zealand sales and marketing manager Nadine Bell replied: “Civic hatch is middle of next year and, sorry, (we) cannot comment on variants yet.

However “Type R will be later next year too.”

Initially the hatch derivatives solely source from Honda’s factory in Swindon, the United Kingdom. The first big export market is the United States; the British operation has released photos showing the first Stateside shipment being loaded (the other images here come from Honda America). The cars are due to arrive in dealers across North America by September.

The images reveal that the production version is virtually identical to the concept that appeared at the Geneva motor show earlier this year. The substantial changes to the rear end aside, the hatchback retains significant styling similarity to the sedan.

Overseas’ commentators have pointed to the LED rear lights and say the large diffusers and centrally mounted exhaust pipes hint at a sport variant – but it isn’t the Type R. That will be even more overt.

Honda is yet to release information on cargo capacity so it is unclear how it compares against the sedan as well as its hatchback rivals. However media information from the UK promises “impressive interior packaging and cargo capacity, featuring impressive rear seat legroom and function, roomy cargo space”. It also claims the hatch will follow the sedan in offering “high-grade materials and quality finishes.”

Civic is Honda's biggest selling nameplate worldwide and Honda says the tenth generation is “one of the most comprehensive new model developments ever undertaken by the brand”. The sedan version is especially popular in the US and holds the latest North American Car of the Year award.

Our sedans come out of Thailand and, even though last year Honda said its UK plant is to become the global production hub for this Civic hatchback (it received an investment of over $400 million to prepare for the start of production of the new model), it's not impossible the NZ market mainstream hatch derivatives might also be off the same line as the sedan.

That, at least, is the view expressed by Australian media. Our neghbour prefers Hondas from Thailand because of cost efficiencies - not only from it being a lot closer but also because Australia and Thailand have a benefical trading agreement. NZ also takes Civic sedans from Thailand, in Australian spec. However, if this is the case there is still potential that the Civic R, as the most specialised - and, thus, lowest-volume - model, might still be out of the UK.

Honda NZ has not given any information about how important it believes the Civic hatch will be, however clearly it has a big role to play – though the brand has been bold with the sedan, it will nonetheless acknowledge that hatches still hold a bigger market interest here.

It seems probable, then, that the hatch might well match the model line-up and key features of the sedan.

That raises potential for a high-end edition taking the Honda Sensing suite of active safety technology that involves Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with low speed follow and a lane keeping aid.

Honda Display Audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, electric driver and front passenger seats, heated front seats, heated side mirrors and push-button start are also set to come.

The new Civic Type R is set to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October and is expected to tone down on the ‘junior touring car’ styling but maintain the big stomp ethos that arrives with the current edition, which Honda NZ determined not to offer.

The new model is likely to take a tuned version of the current model’s 2.0-litre turbo petrol VTEC engine, with power tipped to lift from 228kW to 253kW and torque from 400Nm to 440Nm torque. This will obviously have effect on the performance figures; Honda claimed 0-100kmh in 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 268kmh from the current car.

Interestingly, it is thought that Honda has resisted changing the drivetrain layout or gearbox, so it will likely continue as a front-drive with a manual transmission.