Wheels magazine: Honda Civic

Your 40th birthday is often a time of deep self-examination and significant change, but obviously the Honda Civic sedan is pretty satisfied with itself.

Generation nine arrives at the start of the Civic’s anniversary year offering significant price cuts up to $4300 and a range that has been pared back a few models, but otherwise a high degree of familiarity when compared to its predecessor, which made it to the second stage of Wheels COTY judging back in 2006.

The 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol i-VTEC engines in the VTi-L and Sport models offer very similar outputs, transmissions continue to be five-speeds, dimensions measure up much the same and suspension fundamentals are identical. The body and interior are new, but evolutionary

The Hybrid bucks the trend with a larger 1.5-litre petrol engine, electric motor and 21st century Li-ion battery pack that combine to produce slightly less power and slightly more torque than the old car, slightly better official fuel economy at 4.4L/100km and a price rise of $1500 to $35,990.

With the VTi dropped and the VTi-L now the entry model, pricing kicks off at a very competitive $20,990, with the auto option adding $2300. But it is the $27,990 Sport that is the sweet spot in the range, offering a more responsive engine and a better resolution of the ride-handling compromise.

While age doesn’t deliver much change to Civic, it does add responsibility. After four years of tumbling sales Honda Australia is calling this car its “line in the sand” as it looks to double sales to 60,000 in three years.

That plan will be helped significantly when Honda’s flooded Thai plant gets back on line in April (initial Civic supply is from Japan), the British-sourced Civic hatch arrives in July and a new CR-V in Q4.

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