Honda's new Civic IMA (Intergrated Motor Assist hybrid) Civic is now on sale in the UK, with first year customers entitled to a £1000 grant courtesy of the government's Powershift programme.

Powershift is a government funded body tasked with promoting clean-air vehicles and fuels and encouraging their use.

The grant, subject to conditions, will be payable directly at the time of purchase, allowing a single no-inconvenience transaction for the customer. With the grant, the on the road list price of the Japanese-built Civic IMA sedan falls to £14,000, the same price as a UK-built 1.6 litre Civic five-door hatchback with the same SE Executive trim level.

Like the Insight coupe, now dropped from Honda UK's range, which uses similar "IMA Inside" technology, the Civic 4 door SE Executive uses a small petrol engine coupled with a thin and lightweight electric motor positioned between the engine and transmission which assists the engine when accelerating and recaptures energy when braking or decelerating (regenerative braking), allowing it to operate independently without the need for an outside power source.

The five-seat sedan achieves an EU Combined Cycle fuel consumption of 57.6 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 116 g/km.

With the benefit of the £1000 Powershift grant, low £75 per annum (Band AA) VED rate, 12% Benefit-In-Kind tax band and 100% discount from the London congestion charge, there are some persuasive financial reasons to consider purchase of the Civic IMA, Honda UK claims.

The company anticipates that demand for the car will easily exceed the first year allocation of 500 units, with a further 1500 planned for 2004.

Such volume, while small in absolute terms is likely to make the Civic IMA a very significant player in the 'Alternative Fuel' road car category in the UK which last accounted for less than 3,000 sales.

The top five sellers in 2002 were: Vauxhall Astra petrol/LPG, 1144; Volvo S/V40 series petrol/LPG, 487; Toyota Prius petrol/electric, 291; Vauxhall Vectra petrol/LPG, 261; Volvo V70 series petrol/LPG, 154.