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Civic and Accord go high-tech

20 October 2005

  • New hybrid Civic arrives in January
  • Promises 61mpg
  • Revised Accord can steer itself

Honda Civic IMA

Honda will launch two new gadget-laden cars in January: a new hybrid petrol-electric Civic, for drivers wanting to cheat high fuel prices and London’s Congestion Charge, and a face-lifted Accord that can steer itself.

The £16,000 Civic IMA is fitted with the latest version of Honda’s hybrid technology. It uses an electric motor and battery to run at low speeds and boost the petrol engine when extra acceleration is required out of town.

The electric assistance, and engine cut-out when stationary, are enough to muster a 61.4mpg average economy and lowly 109g/km carbon dioxide emissions. The clean Civic promises cheap bills for fuel and company car tax, while it is exempt from London’s £8-a-day road tolls.

Honda expects the new four-door only hybrid Civic to sell more than the outgoing IMA model, tipping 1000 sales a year. It is also axing the two-seat Insight coupe.

The second technically interesting Honda to arrive next spring is the face-lifted Accord. Its sober and subtle styling makeover hide a remarkable technical first: it can steer the car with no driver input.

Buyers opting for the optional Lane Keep Assist System, expected to cost around £2000 as part of an options bundle including sat-nav and cruise control, get a lane departure warning device which monitors road markings and alerts a drowsy driver if they veer from their course without indicating.

If the driver ignores the warnings, the car will steer itself to stay in the chosen lane. The driver notices a subtle tug through the wheel, as the car corrects its line.

Honda claims the system lets the driver concentrate on more important driver issues such as staying a safe distance from the car in front.

The system can be turned off, and also switches itself off if the onboard cameras fail to identify the road markings, in case of snow or badly painted lines.

• whatcar.com has driven the new Accord equipped with LKAS and will publish a first drive in the next couple of weeks.

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