HONDA has its sporting mojo back. A pre-production 2016 Honda Civic sedan was revealed this week ahead of its June showroom arrival as the marque looks to rediscover the appeal which has slowly dissipated over the past decade.
Wearing a more cohesive yet premium look, the new sedan has a striking presence.
Displayed in RS guise, one of five model grades set to be available, the compact Civic is set to broaden its appeal with an Audi-like sportsback rear end.
Equipped with the likes of Apple Carplay and Android Auto as standard, the RS on show also had 17-inch alloys, leather trim, blind spot monitor system with Honda's trademark camera for lane changes to the left, colour touch-screen, digital driver display, dual exhaust pipes, all while looking closer to a mid-size offering courtesy of a body which is wider and longer yet lower than its predecessor.
Pricing is yet to be released, but early indications are that it will start around the benchmark sweet spot set by the Mazda3 ($20,490), Toyota Corolla ($20,740) and Hyundai Elantra ($21,490).
Hatch models will arrive next year, along with the Type R in the second half of 2017. The latter will have Honda purists and enthusiasts salivating as its targeting hot hatches such as the Ford Focus RS and VW Golf GTI.
The three variants, sedan, hatch and Type R, had separate development teams, hence the staged introduction.
But there will be consistencies across five grades, mirrored in hatch and sedan guises, with all coming from the same Thailand factory.
Sales were up last year for the Japanese brand largely on the back of growing HR-V numbers. The HR-V has appealed to 20-somethings right through to retirees, and the new Civic will be cut from the same cloth.
The small car genre accounts for more than 300,000 sales annually in Australia, with about one third of those sedans.
"If we weren't doing 700-800 sedans a month I'd be disappointed. We certainly want to be a key player again," Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said.
"Honda globally cut back a lot during the GFC period. That hurt us for a while, during the GFC we put our prices up and I think we put them up too much and for too long.
"We went off the radar, then we had natural disasters…we were on a spiral of negativity. We have clearly turned that around.
"We didn't have the product. We were premium priced when I don't think we were able to command that premium."