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Honda has introduced a new efficiency-focused diesel engine that will power not only European Honda Civic models, but for the first time, local variants as well.

Debuting in Australian-delivered variants of the Honda Civic hatch from mid 2013, the 1.6-litre Earth Dreams Technology turbo diesel will only be available with a manual transmission.

The new 1.6-litre i-DTEC unit produces 88kW of power and 300Nm of torque at 2000rpm, while emitting 94 grams of CO2 per kilometre and using 3.6 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the European combined cycle.

Honda i-DTEC Engine - 2

Project leader for the new engine, Tetsuya Miyake, said Honda’s approach for the powerplant was entirely new from the ground up.

“There were no benchmarks for us because those targets would have been too low. We were determined to establish a benchmark of our own that our competitors would have to follow,” Miyake said.

The new engine will be built alongside the existing 2.2-litre i-DTEC engine at Honda’s European manufacturing facility in Swindon, England, on a newly installed purpose-built diesel engine production line capable of producing up to 500 engines per day.

Honda Civic i-DTEC - 1

While Honda says the 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine will find a home in the all-new Honda CR-V before its Earth Dreams Technology philosophy is applied to future powertrains, Australian-spec CR-Vs are likely to solely be powered by the 2.2-litre unit – available with an automatic transmission – to take on the likes of the Mazda CX-5 diesel.

Honda Australia expects that once the Civic diesel arrives locally, the sales split will still strongly favour the petrol variants, forecasting that of the 1400 Civics it hopes to sell per month, only around 100 will be diesel-powered Civic hatches.

Honda Australia director Stephen Collins says he vows to “make the premium between petrol and diesel models competitive”, no doubt looking at the relative premiums of rival diesels like the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf.