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  New Honda Civic 1.7 VTi-S  
- Wednesday, August 13, 2003  By Chips  Bookmark and Share
 
 
 
     

More goodies - for less money...

[+ click to enlarge]
New front end with reprofiled bumper
New front end with reprofiled bumper
Restyled tail light units
Restyled tail light units
Extended sills are standard
Extended sills are standard

More for less – that would be an appropriate description for the new Honda Civic which officially goes on sale tomorrow. While Honda Malaysia is not aiming to start a price war with its rivals, it is nevertheless intent on recovering lost market share and the best way to do that in a price-sensitive market like Malaysia is to adjust prices downwards.

Thus the mid-term update to the Civic sees the range being narrowed down from three versions previously to a single version – the top-of-the-line 1.7L VTi-S – which will retail for RM109,900 (including RM3,017.90 of insurance premium and a year’s roadtax). Compared to the previous Civic VTi-S, this is about RM9,100 cheaper. If that is not enough, Honda Malaysia also throws in a 3-year warranty and all scheduled maintenance will be free for the first two years of ownership.

The change in price reflects the way Honda Malaysia has made full use of the regional trading scheme called AICO (ASEAN Industrial COoperation) which allows companies to import components from other ASEAN countries at the special import duty of no more than 5% - the same as what is agreed upon in the AFTA agreement. According to Seiji Kuraishi, CEO/MD of Honda Malaysia, the new Civic has as much as 70% of ASEAN content, which is why they can price it lower than before.

Although Honda would like to have all its models made at its own plant in Melaka, the unexpected demand for the City has upset the original planning which was to have seen every model being made there by the end of 2003. So, for the time being, the new Civic will continue to be assembled at the Oriental Assemblers plant in Johor, which has been assembling Civics since the late 1970s.

“Honda’s global quality standard is applied to any plant which assembles its products so we can assure customers that the new Civic will have the same high standards as the cars from our own plant,” said K. Shimada, Honda Malaysia’s V-P who is in charge of the Melaka plant.




 


For this upgraded Civic, there are over 20 new items added, with some 260 parts in total which have received some improvements or enhancements. The overall design is unchanged but the looks are a bit sportier with a bolder front bumper and subtle changes made to the grille.

Extended sills – rather like side skirts – also add a sporty touch while chrome inserts for the side protectors make for a classy look. There’s also a revised design for the rear lighting units and the 15 x6JJ alloy wheels (with 195/60 tyres) have a new design too.

Inside, the grey shade of the previous Civic have been replaced by a beige colour which Honda Malaysia feels gives a more upmarket look. The fabric upholstery also has a new pattern and for those who want extra luxury, leather upholstery is available for an extra RM2,400.

The low-set dashboard layout is the same as before but the trim is changed. At the centre is a dark wood panel surrounding the audio system and ventilation controls while chrome is used in areas such as the door handle and handbrake button. The trim piece around the shift lever base is also a new metallic colour (semi-matt finish).

For the driver, there should be extra comfort with the leather-wrapped steering wheel and the three meters also have a luminous blue highlight which can be adjusted for intensity.

Other new features include the MP3 capability for the audio system, variable intermittent wiper mode, dual map lights, a vanity mirror for the driver as well and at the touch of a button, the door mirrors fold against the body.

Technical specifications are essentially unchanged with only the suspension settings being highlighted as having been revised for better handling and comfort, and a stabilizer added to the rear suspension. For those who may have forgotten, the Civic has an Independent Control Link strut layout at the front with an independent reactive Link Double Wishbone arrangement for the rear. Civic fans were disappointed when the 4-wheel double wishbone layout was dropped for this generation but driving dynamics have not been significantly compromised by having struts up front.

As mentioned earlier, the 1.7-litre VTEC SOHC 16-valve engine is unchanged and though classified as a Low Emission engine, it still delivers a healthy 95 kW/130 ps of power at 6300 rpm and 155 Nm of torque at 4800 rpm. Only the 4-speed electronic automatic transmission is available and this has the Grade Logic Control system which reduces shifting on uphill and downhill stretches for a smoother and safer drive.

The body rigidity has been increased a bit and its construction employs Honda’s G-Force Control (G-CON) technology to provide the best possible protection for occupants by controlling and absorbing the impact forces during an accident.

The brake system now has rear disc brakes (solid type) as well which should mean better stopping power. ABS is standard along with Brake Assist which is useful in emergencies to boost braking force and there is also EBD to distribute the brake force properly whatever the load distribution on board.

Also on the subject of safety, dual front airbag systems are standard. There are load limiters on the front seatbelts to reduce the loads on the chest, reducing potential injuries. Front pre-tensioners also retract the seatbelts in a flash when a frontal collision occurs, optimizing the cushioning effects of the airbag.

As for the car’s security, this is improved with the more sophisticated anti-theft system (Thatcham 1 level) and also the integration of the engine immobilizer in the ECU. This is the best way since the code is together with the rest of the programming and would be hard to hack. Additionally, the ignition key has a ‘wave’ pattern to prevent ease of duplication.

With this new upgraded version, Honda Malaysia expects to double sales of the Civic to 300 units a month. An all-new model will probably only appear another two to three years down the road so for now, the company is loading the current generation to the fullest and giving very good value for money.


     Picture Gallery
[+ click to enlarge]
Rear disc brakes now standard
Rear disc brakes now standard
Revised trim and leather-wrapped steering wheel
Revised trim and leather-wrapped steering wheel
Audio system has MP3-compatible CD player
Audio system has MP3-compatible CD player
Beige colour now used for interior
Beige colour now used for interior
Meters have adjustable blue illumination
Meters have adjustable blue illumination
Adjustable rear head restraints added
Adjustable rear head restraints added
No changes to 1.7-litre SOHC VTEC engine
No changes to 1.7-litre SOHC VTEC engine
Deanna Yussof - first owner of new Civic - and she also appears in the TV commercial for the car
Deanna Yussof - first owner of new Civic - and she also appears in the TV commercial for the car


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