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by Matt Campbell

The all-new Honda Civic hatch brings with it an impressive array of safety technology – but only if you buy the most expensive model.

That could be perceived as a problem for Honda, because the the Civic – whether you choose the new hatch or the existing sedan – doesn’t have autonomous emergency braking (AEB) in the four more affordable models in the range, but rivals such as the Mazda 3 have the tech fitted throughout.

Other competitors like the new Hyundai i30 offer AEB as an option in the base car, and standard in every other model, and Subaru likewise has its Eyesight kit fitted to the top three (out of four) versions of its Impreza. It’s optional tech on every Corolla and standard on the top-dog model, too.

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It seems a misstep, then, for Honda to launch an all-new Civic hatch and offer AEB only as part of a more comprehensive safety equipment pack – Honda Sensing, which includes lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.

Stephen Collins, Honda Australia director, admits the company can pick and choose items from the Honda Sensing range to fit to other models, but that’s not how the company wants to approach its model strategy.

“We’re very comfortable with the safety package that we’re offering. We’re definitely aware of discussions of what is happening in regards to AEB in particular. We will look at that with future upgrades,” he said.

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“It is possible to fit Honda Sensing to anything – that’s obviously the full pack, not just AEB but a host of other technologies. So we’re constantly weighing up the package versus the value versus what we offer,” Collins said. “The short answer is we can split Honda Sensing into whatever we like, but ultimately we’re comfortable with the package that we’re offering.

“We’re not offering it as an option in other grades, and that’s something we’ll review going forward.”

Collins wanted to make clear that from Honda’s perspective, safety technology is a big driver in the brand’s way of doing things.

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“ What we try and do is have a relatively simple line-up, to really offer a package – not just in terms of safety, but in terms of all the features – that is attractive.

“Our strategy is to have a simplified model line-up and offer what we think the customers really want.

“Safety is still critical – it’s a major priority of ours, but I think it gets down to the package we offer to the market. It becomes a real expectation at the top end. Five-star safety is critical, and this car will be five-star [rated],” he said.

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Tell us what you think:

Would you prefer Honda offer a safety pack in its lower-spec models? Or is paying $33,590 for the VTi-LX model of the Civic sedan or hatch acceptable to get the full suite of collision intervention tech?




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