If there's one automobile brand that needs a really good shot in the arm after 2020, it's Honda.
Honda started last year with a 12.79% dip in sales from 2019, then finished off 2020 with a drop of 42.42% due to the pandemic. Let's also toss in the closure of Honda's assembly plant and operations in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, and it's quite obvious how difficult last year has been for one of Japan's proudest auto brands.
They did finish off 2020 on a high note. HCPI launched the all-new (and now Thailand-made) Honda City, as well as the refreshed Honda CR-V. But they need a bigger boost than those two, and it seems they may get two this year.
During a conversation with new Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) president Masahiko Nakamura, Honda is planning to launch two all-new and very important models for our market. The first is the all-new City... in hatchback form.
We've known that Honda has been planning this model for the Philippine market for a while. It was in January 2020 that we first got a whiff of Honda's intention to launch a 5-door version of the City. And in November 2020, they revealed the new hatchback model in Thailand.
This model effectively replaces the Honda Jazz (AKA: Fit) in the Philippine and ASEAN markets. That means we won't be getting the new generation Fit or its Jazz derivative anymore. Based on the information we got last year, the Philippine-spec model will not come with the 1.5-liter turbo engine (which the local City sedan also doesn't get). Instead, we will get the twin-cam version of the L15 engine (much like the local City) without a turbo.
The other model that has been confirmed to us by HCPI's boss is the all-new Honda Civic. Yes, they're planning to launch the eleventh generation Honda Civic in the Philippines this year as well.
Details regarding the ASEAN and Philippine-spec variants of the all-new Civic are still unclear as the model only had its world premiere in North America in November. Honda has yet to show what version or derivative other parts of the world will get, but we expect a similar range of variants as now, and we'll be very surprised if they didn't opt to have the 1.5-liter turbo in the model range.
It is likely the City Hatchback will be launched before the Civic in the Philippines. We also expect these new model introductions to take place later this year, probably in the second half. When they do, that means, in two years, Honda will have completely revitalized their passenger car model line-up in the country which will comprise of the Brio and Accord (both launched in 2019), the City sedan (launched in 2020), and the City Hatchback and Civic for this year.
What this also means is that if you're in the market for a Jazz, this may be the last chance to get one before it's supplanted by a 5-door City. And we won't be surprised if there are a lot of good promos for the tenth generation Civic and Jazz in the months to come.