Honda has seen something of a drought in the UK fleet market over the past couple of years.
The diesel version of the Civic was discontinued at the end of 2010, although the manufacturer’s low-CO2 credentials continued to be supported by the Insight and Jazz hybrid.
However, this was at a time where the London Congestion Charge rules changed from only exempting hybrids and electric vehicles to exempting any vehicle with emissions below, first, 120g/km and, latterly, 100g/km. Both the Insight and Jazz exceed this threshold.
But things are looking up. An all-new Civic is about to be launched with first registrations expected in March 2012. The big news is, it not only has a diesel – it has one with class-leading CO2 emissions.
The 150bhp i-DTEC engine, which has seen service in the Accord and CR-V, has been fettled in the new Civic to achieve 110g/km and 67.3mpg on the combined cycle.
The 1.8-litre petrol engine has CO2 emissions from 137g/km (although even in the highest equipment grade and with automatic transmission tops out at 150g/km), while the 100bhp 1.4-litre achieves 129g/km.
The significant CO2 reductions are made possible not just through improved engine and transmission technology, but also aerodynamics (including a shutter grille on the diesel) and idling stop-start.
The styling of this Civic looks more of an evolution of the previous model rather than being all new. Although the rear window is still split, a wiper has been installed on the top pane, while the lower pane has a heating element to clear frost or condensation. It has also been positioned much lower than in the previous Civic to improve visibility.
Inside, the Civic is still one of the roomiest cars in its class, while the car feels more upmarket than its predecessor with a soft-touch dashboard and door panels.
In cars fitted with sat-nav, the current Honda system is carried over and sits in the dashboard centre, but an extra screen sits higher up near the base of the windscreen. When it isn’t showing sat-nav instructions, it displays trip computer information or can show an image uploaded via USB. One fleet customer will be using it to display a ‘no smoking’ symbol.
The 150bhp diesel offers strong performance, but is amazingly quiet at steady speeds.
Ride comfort is also much improved, dealing with
poor road surfaces in a much more composed manner than the previous Civic, while the seats also offer better support.
The Civic is a major improvement over the outgoing model, while fleet appetite will be whetted further by the recent announcement of a 120bhp 1.6-litre diesel promising CO2 at 95g/km. We can’t wait.