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New Civic diesel all about the detail

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IOL mot pic feb8 Honda Civic Diesel 2

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Lightweight 1.6-litre turbodiesel puts the emphasis on driveability.

Honda SA has added an all-new turbodiesel to its Civic hatch line-up, which it claims is not only the lightest diesel engine in its class but also balances improved performance with reduced emissions, through what it calls Earth Dreams Technology.

This is really Honda playing to its strengths; rather than trying out experimental new technology the White Coat Samurai at Asaka have concentrated on what they do best - detail work, a large number of detail improvements to their existing engine technology, with impressive results, if Honda's numbers are to be believed.

The 1597cc i-DTEC engine weighs 47kg less than the 2.2 i-DTEC it replaces, but delivers 88kW at 4000rpm and a respectable 300Nm at 2000. Then - more detail work - they retuned the chassis to suit the new engine.

Project leader Suehiro Hasshi explained: “We wanted to create a fun-to-drive car, so the whole team worked together to give the engine an appropriate stage on which to perform.”

MADE IN ENGLAND

Subtle revisions to the the exterior styling reduced aerodynamic drag and improved high-speed stability while reducing the load on the front axle by 47kg improved steering response and handling.

IOL mot pic feb8 Honda Civic Diesel 3

Cutaway of new 1597cc i-DTEC engine shows how Honda engineers sweated the small stuff.

The engine was specifically designed for the European market and is exclusively built at Honda's European manufacturing facility in Swindon, UK, on a new purpose-built diesel engine production line, that's capable of producing up to 500 diesel engines a day - that's one engine 138 seconds, based on a two-shift schedule.

One of the key targets for the slide-rule sensei was to reduce the mechanical friction of the new diesel engine to be comparable to those of petrol engines. At 1500rpm, the 1.6-litre i-DTEC has about 40 percent less mechanical friction than the 2.2-litre i-DTEC engine, not only improving fuel-efficiency but also throttle response.

VARIABLE-NOZZLE TURBO

The new engine has a fourth generation, variable-nozzle Garrett turbo, with an electronic wastegate that keeps the impeller spinning to reduce turbo lag and pulls maximum boost of 1.5 bar to improve both mid-range and top-end performance.

The common-rail fuel-injection system uses Bosch solenoid injectors working at up to 1800 bar for higher fuel-flow rates and finer atomisation of the fuel spray, along with smaller intake ports designed for high swirl rates, reducing hot spots that create unwanted emissions.

Finally, the new engine drives through a compact new six-speed manual 'box that's 7kg lighter than the one on the 2.2, for a claimed average fuel consumption of 4.1 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 109g/km.

CIVIC, ONLY BETTER

The Civic 1.6-litre i-DTEC hatch will be available in South Africa only in Executive trim, including heatable leather seats, rain sensing wipers, auto headlights and reversing camera, at R299 900, which includes a three-year or 100 000km warranty, a five-year or 90 000km service plan and one-year AA roadside assistance.

Service intervals are 15 000km.


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