UK/AUSTRALIA: British Honda hatchbacks head Down Under
Honda Australia has confirmed it will put the UK-built Civic Type R hatchback on sale 'down under' in July.
Honda UK spokesman Paul Ormond also confirmed the start of Australia-bound shipments from the automaker's European plant in Swindon, England, but noted this did not signal the start of a flood of exports to Asia-Pacific markets as each would have to negotiate a price for the UK-built cars and make its own business case.
"I'm sure the effect [of the new Type R hatch] in Australia will be watched closely in other Honda markets," Ormond said.
Until now, Honda has sold the new Civic in sedan form in Japan and Asia-Pacific and also in the US, where a locally-made coupe version is available as well.
The hatchbacks have so far been confined to mainland Europe but Ormond noted that sales in the Baltic states and Russia will begin by the end of this year.
Sporty Type R sedan models are available from Honda's Japanese plants.
According to Sydney-based website drive.com.au, Honda Australia described the new UK-made Civic Type R hatchback as "more civilised, more practical and more comfortable" than its previous performance coupes and hatches.
The report said Honda Australia believes "buyers are starting to turn away from the stripped-out boy-racer style of vehicle", and instead are looking for a more polished performance package priced around $A40,000.
Honda Australia director Lindsay Smalley told drive.com.au the Type R would target the VW Golf GTi, Mazda 3 MPS, Mini Cooper S and other hot hatches, and is aimed at buyers "...looking for a performance car for all occasions".
The website reported favourably on the new model after a preview drive.