Thursday, July 5, 2012

The NEW 9Gen Civic is coming !

The new 9Gen Civic will be launched by Honda Malaysia next week. In fact some publications have even published the exact date - July 12th 2012. Advertisements have already been placed in newspapers to attract attention to this new Civic. But at the end of the day, really, what does it hold for us, Honda fans ?

Update : A reader sent in a comment to say that the Honda Civic Hybrid is actually already in Singapore, which is of course RHD. So there should not be any problems with Honda Malaysia launching the HCH. Thanks to the reader. 

Which brings me to the intriguing 'coincidence' that 'Honda Global Amity', a Honda dealer located in the Bukit Jalil area sent me an invitation to their own launch of the HCH (at their showroom) next saturday, i.e. the weekend after the launch of the Civic. This suggests to me that on July 12th, Honda Malaysia will be launching the full line-up of variants for the new 9Gen Civic - both 1.8l and 2.0l -plus- the Civic Hybrid !

Well, if you are a long time TOVA'er, it is certain that you did not come here to read an 'all is well' sugar-coated preview. In any case, with the internet as it is today, there is really no way to hide anything as people will find out by themselves. All it takes really is to type 'google' at the right place.

So let's just get down to the details, the facts exactly as they are. Or rather, whatever is known at this time.

This new 9Gen made its debut in the U.S. and Canada. It was of course also launched in Thailand recently. But this Gen Civic is very unusual in that it is still NOT launched in Japan yet. In fact, check for the JDM lineup and you will notice the Civic is missing. The Civic had for a long time been synonymous with the Honda spirit. Along with the Accord, it is what defines a Honda car. Rumours are that it is possible that Honda will abandon the Civic altogether in its domestic line-up because the JDM focus is now on SUVs and MPVs. If proven true, this will be very sad.

After a rough time initially, with rather erratic reception from owners and reviews, the 9Gen Civic has since re-bounced to become a top seller in its market segment in the U.S. This is despite criticism from numerous magazines and web-sites. The criticisms centers mainly on an apparent drop in the quality of the interior. Complaints are that the interior materials look cheap and feel cheap. There are also negative comments about its ride quality, supposedly rough and un-refined. The culmination of all these is of course the rather infamous incident (by now) where the supposedly very influential publication 'Consumer Reviews' (CR) decided NOT to recommend this new 9Gen Civic. Given the fact that CR has formally recommended every generation of Civic before this, it was really huge news.

As stated above, all these are available to anyone who have access to the internet. There is no way to hide them or pretend they don't exist. Nevertheless, readers are advised to bear in mind that 'defenders' of the 9Gen Civic have pointed out that the majority of the negative feedback could be due to the fact that the reviewers tested the entry level LX variant. It was pointed out that the EX variant is much better. It is also important to note that there are also quite a number of positive reviews of the 9Gen Civic. So as usual, take all reviews with a pinch of salt and make the final decision yourself, after seeing the car in person.

Nevertheless, personally I still wish to remind readers that it is generally felt that our models seems to get better interior materials than some equivalent USDM models. E.g. our Insight gets the premium interior while the Insight in the U.S. had been getting bashed for its interior quality. This same could hold for this new 9Gen Civic, meaning do not equate what you read in the internet to what to expect from our 9Gen Civic. Again, keep an open mind until you see the actual car. It is a similar advice for the ride quality. 

Unfortunately, I have not seen our ASEAN version yet so I can't give you my views on it until its launch next week. I suppose for those who are asking the inevitable question "should I make a pre-launch booking", unfortunately the most prudent answer is that you have to decide yourself as I can't confirm if our version will be better. Perhaps you need to wait until next week when cars are available at the dealers before making the commitment (though this could mean you end up with a longer waiting period).

Nevertheless, the fact is that American Honda Motors (AHM) who markets the Civic in the U.S. has officially admitted to an impending early MMC of the 9Gen Civic - by the end of this year to be exact. So this has been seen by many as an admission by AHM themselves that things are not totally right with the 9Gen Civic. Again, this is something widely written in the internet and is something for you to consider.

What about for us in Malaysia ? As was pointed out with previous generations, what we get will be almost exactly the same as the Thailand model. In this case, we will be getting two variants - a 1.8l and a 2.0l, just like the current outgoing 8Gen model. However this time both engines will be the SOHC i-VTEC 'R-Series'. I.e. the 1.8l will get the R18A and the 2.0l will get the R20A. Honda points out that the R20A will be the engine 'from the Accord' and not from the CR-V, though the two engines are really just slightly different variations of each other. 

More intriguingly is that the R18A used in the USDM 1.8 Civic although bearing the same engine code is different from the previous engine on the 8Gen. As covered in TOV, this 'new' R18A engine no longer opens the intake valves into the compression stroke in an attempt to avoid pumping losses and thus reduce power loss. It is just 12V/16V implementation for 'normal' and 'hot-ish' cam profiles. Whether or not this will be the case with our R18A Civic I hope to find out at the launch or at the media drive event.

Again, the R20A will be the 155ps engine from the 2.0l Accord. So once again, soon we will no longer have a twin-cam VTEC Civic. Nevertheless, this R20A will not lose out to the K20A of the outgoing 8Gen 2.0l Civic. Their power rating will be the same. Even their red-line will be the same (6,800rpm). But the R20A will deliver better low end torque due to its under-square configuration (the K20A is a square configuration). So in theory, the new 2.0l Civic should be better to drive. Unfortunately this will only be 'on paper' and the intangible factor - i.e. the appeal of a 'twin-cam VTEC' engine has been ignored. Do note that the USDM don't have a 2.0l Civic but the much more desirable 200hp K24 Civic Si instead (though even this variant received lots of complaints from enthusiasts over there).

Transmission will continue to be 5AT only, no manual option is expected. The more interesting question is whether Honda Malaysia will also add the Civic Hybrid variant to the Civic line-up at a later date. But at the moment the HCH is only available in the U.S. and Canada which are LHD. This means if Honda Malaysia wants to have a Civic Hybrid locally, they will have to made a special case for it as we are RHD. 

Finally for pricing, do expect the price to creep up a little. Still I expect both variants to keep within its price bracket, i.e. the 1.8l should continue to be below RM120k while the 2.0l should continue to be below RM140k. Given the yen rate today, a price increase is really unavoidable.

The photo of the dashboard above was provided in Honda's press release for the launch event.


Anonymous said...

dude, there is a RHD Honda Civic Hybrid - just look down south
whether or not it would be available here is a different matter altogether though...

FiSH-Chan said...

you had to put up that really bad picture.... lol

TOVA said...

It's not my fault, Honda supplied -only- this photo to me, there's no other I can use :).

Actually I do have photos of the 9G Civic but the USDM models, including a rear shot of the HCH plus a shot of the 200hp K24 Civic Coupe. Obviously I cannot use my Civic Coupe photo. Then Honda Malaysia never did say they will be launching the HCH on the 12th (though if you read my update, I think it is quite certain they will). So this sort of leaves 'that' photo...

Anonymous said...

dude, btw, i think you meant to say 1.8 and 2.0 in your update, not 1.8 and 1.9 ;)

the launch is definitely on the 12th, but no idea on whether HCH will also be launched as well as i'm not a dealer :P

FiSH-Chan said...

Sounds as if the engine displacement was reduced... but hopefully that's not going to be the case..

TOVA said...

That was a mistake, thanks for spotting it. Corrected it already. I have a suspicion the HCH will be launched on the 12th as I received the invitation from a Honda dealer.

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