It’s all change at Honda dealers right now as plain-Jane 2003 Civic models make way for next year’s bolder, brighter, spiced-up versions.
The 2004 Civic will be the first of a brace of improved models to grace Honda showrooms – and by far the most important. Traditionally Civic accounts for almost half of all Honda models sold in the UK, so the model’s continuing success is vital to the company’s fortunes.
The new model retains all the best features of its predecessor, including its class-leading interior space, slick fascia-mounted gearshift and state-of-the-art safety which ensures best possible protection for occupants and pedestrians. But the new model looks fresher and more distinctive, is more fun to drive and is considerably smoother and quieter.
The range sees a Civic 3 door with significant ride, handling and steering improvements line up alongside a more prestigious 5 door. Both models are well positioned to take on fresh opposition from the European heavyweights.
All new Civics gain new front and rear lamp assemblies, revised grille and bumpers and a new tailgate pressing for the 5 door models. Inside they boast new trims, revised instruments (illuminated blackout type in the case of the 5 door), and larger boot capacity through the adoption of a spacesaver spare wheel.
For 2004 the range has been simplified to E, SE, Sport and Type-R grades for the 3 door and E, SE, Executive and Type-S grades for the 5 door. Engine line-up remains unchanged, comprising 1.4 litre 90PS SOHC, 1.6 litre 110PS VTEC, 2.0 litre 160PS-VTEC and 2.0 litre 200PS i-VTEC petrol units with a 1.7 litre 100PS CTDi common rail turbodiesel. Most 1.6 models offer a choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions, all other models (except for the 6-speed Type-R) offer 5-speed manual transmission only.
Equipment levels remain a Civic strength, with all models in the range now boasting ABS anti lock brakes (with EBD and brake assist), twin SRS airbags, electric power steering, power windows and remote central locking; additionally all bar the 1.4E entry model and Type-R have air conditioning and front side airbags.
"The new range offers enhanced value, with prices effectively carried over from equivalent (though less well specified) models in the old range," says Simon Thompson, Honda UK’s Head of Marketing.
"For 2004 we’re expecting to sell more than 35,000 Civic hatchbacks in the UK, replicating the all time 2002 record – but in addition, we’re expecting the Civic IMA 4 door sales to grow to around 1500 units, as our Integrated Motor Assist technology starts to become more mainstream. Within the Civic range, we’re expecting to double sales of the diesel models, and achieve a richer model mix overall. The focus will be firmly on the 1.6 litre models with a shift towards more automatics. The new Sport is expected to take 60% of 3 door sales, with the Type-R a further 23% – while in the 5 door range, the 1.6 SE and Executive models are expected to be the big sellers," he added.
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