The new 10th generation Honda Civic five door family hatchback is now in production for global markets and it is only being built in the UK at their Swindon factory.
It’s good news for post-Brexit Britain with Honda spending a further £200 million turning their Swindon plant into a global manufacturing hub for the new Civic hatchback, says David Miles.
|In the UK Honda dealers have 2,000 advance orders for the new Civic hatchbacks which arrived in showrooms in late March with early adopters already driving their new cars with the new ‘17’ registration plate. In the USA customers cannot get enough of the new model which went on sale last autumn with over 70,000 sold orders. It is the first five door hatchback Honda has sold in the USA.
The 10th generation Honda Civic five door hatchback is both longer and wider than the generation it replaces in line with global market requirements effectively covering the gap in their overall passenger car line-up following the demise in some markets of the D-segment Accord saloon and estate models. It remains classified as a C-segment car competing against the main sales contenders such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and new VW Golf.
UK prices start from £18,375 and rise to £27,550 through two petrol engine options and the choice of six core spec levels. Strangely S, SE, SR and EX grades can only be ordered with the 1.0-litre petrol engine and Sport and Prestige levels come with the 1.5-litre petrol engine. The two Swindon built engine options available now are new petrol turbocharged units; a 1.0-litre 129hp three cylinder unit and a 1.5-litre 182hp four cylinder engine. Both are available with manual gearbox and CVT automatic transmissions. A 1.6-litre 120hp turbodiesel unit is to be added to the range early next year and the revised 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit with 320hp and 400Nm of torque will power the new Type R which will be launched in Europe this summer.
|Previously Swindon has been the production centre for European versions of the Jazz which has now had production moved to Japan and the CR-V large SUV which is being phased out by 2018. The next generation CR-V will be built in Japan leaving Swindon as the sole global production hub for Civic five door hatchbacks. Civic saloons are built in Turkey and Civic coupes are also built in the USA.
With 600 extra employees taken on at Swindon there is now a total workforce of more than 3,700 and currently a new Civic comes off the production line every 69 seconds. About 800 vehicles are produced each day for sale in 89 countries.
Total production at the Swindon plant of CR-V and Civic models is expected to be 165,000 units this year but still only one of the two production lines is in operation. During the last recession Line Two was mothballed and remains closed. Line One currently runs 24 hours a day using a three shift system. With both Lines in operation the Swindon facility would have a production capacity of 250,000 units a year.
Forecasts are that Civic hatchback production from Swindon will see 20% going to UK customers, 40% to left hand drive European markets and 40% to the rest of the world including Japan and North America.
Simon Branney, Honda UK’s PR Communications Manager told motoring journalists this week that around 14,000 new Civic hatchbacks would be sold in this country during the first full year of sales.
Around 83% of sales in the UK will go to retail customers, 70% of buyers are expected to choose a 1.0-litre powered version and 60% will select a manual gearbox version. Currently for new Civics with the 1.0-litre engine SR specification is the most popular and Sport is the most popular choice so far for customers who have chosen the 1.5-litre powered models.
When it comes to the high performance 320hp front wheel drive Type R model, around 600 units are expected to be available to UK customers this year and 3,000 units next year he said.
Evolution rather than revolution drives development at Honda and no-where is this more evident than in the tenth generation Civic, now going out to the first UK buyers, writes Robin Roberts.
The usually conservative car maker has tweeked the Civic to update its looks, given it a bigger more rounded body creating not only a better looking car than the previous generation with a less cluttered fascia as well, but it’s also better to see out of.
The thick rear-window “wing” has been put on a diet so its thinner and even the powertrain has been slimmed to offer a 1.0 litre petrol engine while the floorpan or chassis has been carefully lightened as well without losing its rigidity to optimise handling.
The new 1.0 litre comes in four trim levels from £18,475 to £23,800 and the 129ps engine can be fitted with either manual or CVT gearboxes. The 182ps 1.5 petrol engine also comes with manual or automatic transmission in three trim specs from £22,540 to £26,155.
In a brief drive of the top-line EX models this week I was left more impressed by the smaller engine which gave an indicated 50.1mpg. It was willing, smooth and reasonably punchy if you used the gears, the clutch and gearchange were effortless, the steering sharp and the brakes powerful.
I liked the ride and composure of the Civic 1.0 and its compliance contrasted with a harder riding 1.5 version, possibly down to the heavier front end and stiffer springing and it sounded noiser over rough surfaces as well.
Over an almost identical test route the second car returned 46.5mpg as it appeared to gobble up gearchanges and had a busier engine note. I would have welcomed a bit more driver’s seat adjustment and knee-room, and noted there was little room in the back of the five-door body for anyone other than a young teenager and the bootspace was easy to use if uneven in depth.
Honda Civic 1.0 VTEC Turbo petrol EX manual, 5-door hatchback £23,200
Engine/transmission: new 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo petrol 129hp, 200Nm of torque from 2,250rpm, new 6-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 126mph, 0-62mph 11.2-seconds, Combined Cycle 55.4mpg (50.1mpg on test)
CO2 117g/km, VED £160/140, BiK company car tax 22%
Insurance group: 15E Warranty: 3-years/90,000-miles
Dimensions/capacities: L 4,518mm, W 1,799mm, H 1,434mm, boot/load space 478 to 1,267-litres, 5-doors/5-seats
For: Built in Brain for global markets, sporty but not too extravagant styling, good specification, high level of safety equipment, agile handling, characterful new engine, affordable running costs
Against: Larger but not that roomy especially in the rear seats, variable ride quality, small infotainment touchscreen by today’s standards, considerable price difference between engine sizes, spec levels and VED tax costs.
© David Miles