Australian sales of Honda's new Civic Hatch have skyrocketed this year, drawing customers with a sharpened price list and new standard equipment.
Average monthly sales for the five-door now sit at around 900 cars, with the hatch comfortably overtaking the sedan to account for just under 90 percent of all Civic volume.
The hatch's hot sales numbers are, Honda Australia boss Stephen Collins concedes, a far cry from how the previous-generation Civic Hatch fared.
“With the previous model we were selling about twenty or thirty a month, it was miniscule,” Mr Collins told TMR at this week's 2014 Honda Accord event.
“Now we’re doing 900 a month consistently, so yeah, it’s going really well. I think it can still do better for us, but Civic hatch has really come a long way.”
Much of that success can be attributed to specification and pricing changes made in January this year, which saw the price of entry fall $2000 down to $20,650 for the Civic Hatch VTi-S, while the VTi-L dropped $4500 to rest at a far more realistic $25,490.
Bluetooth and cruise control became standard on the base VTi-S, and a sat-nav equipped VTi-L variant joined the range at a price point of $29,590
“I think before the price and spec adjustment, we were doing around 450 [hatches per month],” Collins said. “When we realigned the price and up-specced the car, that’s taken it to the next level.
“We’ve pretty much doubled the volume since then. And in what’s a pretty competitive small car market, I think with 900 [sales per month] we’re reasonably satisfied.”
Since then, the diesel-engined DTi-S has been added to the Civic Hatch family, retailing for $26,990.
“The reaction from our dealers has been really positive and we’re taking some orders,” said Collins of the diesel Civic.
“However I think the major market is [in] automatic transmissions, so if an auto becomes available then we’ll certainly be getting it.
Collins says the carmaker is aiming for around 50 diesel Civic sales each month, a conservative figure that he attributes to a lower demand for manuals. "I think we can easily do that," he said.
“It’s our first diesel, but I think we’ll really crank it up with CR-V, that’s when we’ll really start to see some good diesel volumes coming out of Honda.”
However, while an automatic variant of the Civic DTi-S is high on Collins’ wishlist, a wagon variant based on the Civic Tourer Concept is not.
“Civic Tourer] is not in our plan,” said Collins.
“The wagon market in small cars here is pretty small, so that’s not really something we’re pushing for that hard.
“The Tourer is a really nice car, but the opportunities are relatively limited so it’s not our focus at the moment.”
Elsewhere in the range, the CR-V SUV has gone on to become the best-selling midsized petrol SUV on the market, with 4,737 finding homes in the first four months of 2013.
“The CR-V has been a huge success with customers looking for an SUV with outstanding packaging, performance and value for money,” Collins said.
“We have also just announced that the CR-V will feature a new variant to go on sale in June this year that will feature our Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) that we launched in our all-new Accord this week."
Launched as an 'active safety' system, ADAS' features include Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).