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The new 10G Honda Civic looks set to be a game changer in the C-segment of the automobile market and help propel Honda back to the top of the heap in this segment. The launch of this 10G Civic here in Malaysia allowed me to take a close look at this car for the first time.

Here is a summary of Honda Malaysia's product positioning and marketing strategy for the new 10G Civic which was presented at the official launch ceremony. For those interested in the new 10G Civic, this might offer some unique and interesting insights into this new car.

With their City and HR-V, Honda Malaysia has been dominating the B-segment sedan and compact (B-segment) SUV market segments respectively in recent years. In addition, the introduction of a 2WD (FWD) variant also boosted sales of the already very popular CR-V.

These three models, together with the new Honda Jazz attracted a lot of buyers, many of whom switched over from the C-segment sedan market. The C-segment is where the Honda Civic is positioned.

Consequently, sales for Honda in recent years have seen a steady and significant growth in the B-segment (+32% increase in sales), Compact B-segment SUV (+450% increase in sales) and the mid-sized (C-segment) SUV segment which saw a +28% increase in sales.

However, all is not a bed or roses and unfortunately these successes came at a price and consequently Honda's offering, the Civic, in the C-segment suffered a drop of -19% in sales. Honda Malaysia market research attributed the loss of sales for the Civic to be due to migration of potential buyers of the Civic to the City, HR-V, and CR-V.

With the new 10G Civic, Honda hopes to revitalise the C-segment and looks forward to restoring previous sales successes of the Honda Civic. The Honda Civic has sold over 80,000 units since 2001 when Honda formally took over operations here in Malaysia and has been a staple model for Honda, contributing much to its image and user appeal.

The new 10G Civic is looked upon to (re)-strengthen Honda's presence in the C-segment of the automobile market which has seen some erosion from strong competition not only from Honda's traditional competitors, like the Toyota Altis or the new Mazda 3, but also from the 'continental' marques, from cars like the turbo-charged VW Golf or the Peugeot 408.

For this task, the new 10G Honda Civic comes with a winning combination of a stylish design, a new (turbo-charged) powertrain, and class leadings features.

Honda Malaysia's pre-launch promotional activities, including a pre-launch roadshow, has received very encouraging response from both the media and the public.

The pre-launch roadshow which also offered pre-launch booking which took place over the past month (before the official launch) resulted in a total of 1,400 bookings for the new 10G Civic !

Key to leading the challenge by the 10G Civic is the two engine options. The R18A 1.8l SOHC i-VTEC engine carries over from the previous 9Gen and added to the line-up is a brand new L15B 1.5l DOHC VTEC Turbo-Intercooled engine offering a staggering 173ps max power.

To put this into perspective, the famous Civic SiR's of the 90s-era were delivering 170ps from a 1.6l DOHC VTEC engine. 173ps also puts the specific output of the new L15B at over 115ps/litre which compares favourably with the legendary Type-R engines in the previous generations of Civic Type-R (EK9, EP3R, FN2R, and FD2R)

Both the R18A and L16B engined Civics are also certified EEV or "Energy Efficient Vehicles". This means they offer a class leading combination of low emissions and high fuel efficiency - on top of the high max power for the L15B.

The new 10G Civic offers a complete overall package, highlighted by a stylish design and advanced technology.

Besides the brand new 1.5l turbo engine, the Civic comes with remote engine start (via a button on the remote control), walk away auto lock (after stopping the engine, the driver can simply get out, close the door and walk away from the car which will auto-lock itself within a short period, though it is still recommended to manually lock it by pressing the lock button on the door handle), electric parking brake, and auto brake hold (whereby the brakes are automatically kept engaged when the brake pedal is released and automatically released when the throttle is pressed.)

Safety has always been the most important element of any Honda and Honda has been leading the way with class leading safety features starting with being the first to offer at least dual airbags and ABS as mandatory features on all their models way back when they first officially came to Malaysia in 2001.

The new 10G Civic continues this tradition with 6 airbags (dual front, side, and side curtain airbags), vehicle stability assist or VSA for slippery road conditions, Hill start assist or HSA (where the brakes are automatically kept engaged to prevent the car rolling up or down when moving off on an incline), and emergency stop signal (the hazard lights are automatically activated for a few seconds when the car is brought to a stop).

Honda Malaysia offers the new 10G Civic in 3 variants: the 1.8l and two variants featuring the new 1.5l turbo engine which is differentiated into a 1.5l Turbo and 1.5l Turbo Premium.

The difference between the two 1.5l turbo variants are in options like LED headlights and foglights (versus regular Halogen in the non-premium), dual-zone air-conditioning system (driver's side and front passenger's side are independently controlled), and NAVI(gation). Note that the white coloured 1.5l variant is slightly higher priced than other colours.

The new 10G Civic also pioneers the new Smart Monitoring System or SMS. This is a dashboard info-system which will alert the driver when service is due.

This is important as the new 1.5l turbo engine may need earlier oil change due to energetic driving conditions. Honda has extended the standard service interval of their latest models from the previous standard of 5,000 km to 10,000km. An "energetic driving style" may trigger the SMS to activate an earlier oil change service of down to 7,000km. This is to ensure the oil is kept at optimum condition to offer maximum protection to the engine.

The Civic comes with a 5 years warranty with unlimited mileage and a free labour service package where service labour is free of charge for up to 5 services (within the first 100,000km mileage or 5 years, whichever comes first).

Honda Malaysia's sales target for the 10G Civic is 1,200 units per month. This means that the new Civic has already exceeded its first month's sales target - before its officially launched - by more than 10% !

Honda Malaysia is confident of the success of the new 10G Civic as it offers D-segment value (D-segment is where the premium luxury models like Accord, Camry, Mazda 5 resides) but at a much more affordable C-segment pricing.

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June 2016
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