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First drive: New diesel Civic

2008-02-07 07:44
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Honda
Model Civic 2.2 i-CDTi
Engine common rail turbodiesel, 16-valve, in line 4-cylin
Power 103 kW @ 4 000 r/min
Torque 340 Nm @ 2 000 r/min
Transmission six-speed manual
Top Speed 205 km/h
Fuel Consumption 5.3 l/100 km
ABS with EBD, EBA and VSA
Airbags six
Warranty three-year/100 000 km
Price R249 000

Hailey Philander

It's no secret that, more than a year after its initial launch in South Africa, the Civic hatchback continues to make a style statement with its futuristic design.

Raked screens, short overhangs, prominent head- and tail-light clusters and quirky triangular detailing remain intact.

So too does the interior, where the cabin's primary target is the driver, although this could be a bit frustrating for nosey passengers who feel the need to know everything that the driver is doing and even seeing! However, quality of the materials and general fit and inside the cabin remains impeccable.

Nothing big there, either. Apart from the addition of a 2.2 i-CDTi engine, of course.

The Wheels24 team was blown away by Honda's first turbodiesel unit launched here in the CR-V last year, so when news broke that this engine would be shoehorned into the Civic, there were cheers all round.

And while I had initially anticipated that the powerplant would bolster the sedan range, there's nothing wrong with its application in Civic's five-door hatchback body style.

The engine, launched globally in 2005 with the introduction of the turbodiesel Accord, is no longer a "spring chicken", but it certainly won't ever allow you to suggest otherwise.

Same tune as CR-V

Constructed using a solid casting process, the lightweight all-aluminium four-cylinder common-rail unit uses direct injection and produces 103 kW at 4 000 r/min. Peak torque of 340 Nm is on tap at 2 000 r/min. It is identical to the unit used in its CR-V stablemate.

With the addition of the turbodiesel powerplant, the already-engaging hatchback now gives its drivers even more reason to smile. It is extremely tractable - hauling in virtually any of its six available gears - with winning fuel consumption (5.3 l/100 km on the combined cycle) and a silky smooth power delivery.

But it does without the typical diesel annoyances of a shuddering idle and rumbling soundtrack mainly because several adjustments have been made beneath the metal to ensure favourable NVH levels.

In fact, were it not for the way in which this engine delivers its power, it could easily dupe the unsuspecting into thinking it's a petrol.

Honda claims it will accelerate to 100 km/h from a standing start in 8.6 seconds and it has a top speed of 205 km/h. And, typically Honda, it loves a good rev, swinging freely to its 4 000-r/min power peak, and beyond.

50 ppm only

As with the CR-V, this turbodiesel only runs on ultra-low sulphur diesel, with a sulphur content of 50 ppm. Service intervals are at a conservative 10 000 km and the Civic I-CDTi comes with a five-year/90 000 km service plan and a three-year/100 000 km warranty.

Okay, so the turbodiesel Civic is listed as a flagship product, and its specification list suggests as much.

This model is fitted with a full leather interior, satellite steering controls for audio and cruise controls, climate control and meaty 17-inch alloys, among other features.

Good news is that this coincides with the specification upgrade of the existing 1.8 VXI, which sees its price increase from R208 000 to R217 000.

Pricing on the new Civic 2.2 i-CDTi is R249 000, but before you baulk at it, consider too that Honda says it is taking a stab at the premier segment of the diesel hatchback market. Read "Audi A3 2.0 TDI" and "BMW 120d".

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