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Why Honda Australia is ditching the Civic sedan and what it means for the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and other rivals

Honda’s next-gen Civic has been previewed with a protype sedan, but Australia will only have access to the yet-to-be-seen hatch.

Honda’s next-generation Civic small car might still be a few years away, but the local division has already confirmed it is going hatch only for its new volume-selling model.

Honda’s official line is that “the Civic nameplate will continue as a core model in Honda’s line-up with the next generation, however, the sedan bodystyle will be phased out locally when the current model reaches the end of its lifecycle towards the middle of next year”.

Though the brand would not be drawn on the exact sales split between the four- and five-door Civic, back when it launched the current 10th-generation car in 2017, the brand told media it expected a roughly 60/40 mix favouring the hatchback.

However, it is understood that this mix has shifted dramatically in the last three years as buyers continue to flock to high-riding SUVs and crossovers like the HR-V and CR-V.

“In the mid-1990s, the sedan bodystyle represented around 60 per cent of the small car market in Australia,” a Honda spokesperson told CarsGuide in a statement. “Over the past 15+ years, the hatch/sedan mix has shifted from an even 50/50 split to now approaching an 80/20 split in 2020, strongly in favour of the hatchback bodystyle.

“Over the last three years, the number of sedan models in the small car segment has halved as consumer preferences change and customers migrate into hatches and SUVs.”

Other models to vacate the small sedan space include the Holden Astra, Volkswagen Jetta, Renault Megane, MG6 Plus and Mitsubishi Lancer, who have all been discontinued due to slowing sales.

Aussie buyers after a small sedan will still be left with some options though, as the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Kia Cerato and Subaru Impreza will continue in both hatch and sedan bodystyles.

Toyota’s Corolla is currently the small car sales champion, amassing 20,592 sales in the first 10 months of the year, while its hatchback and sedan split is around 73/27.

Subaru’s Impreza line-up actually indexes a little higher than the Corolla, with around 80-85 per cent of its customers opting for the five-door over the sedan.

However, the Mazda3 and Kia Cerato are enjoying a much healthier mix of sedan buyers, with 34.4 and 42 per cent of customers favouring the four-door body.

With the Civic sedan leaving the market, existing customers will need to turn to alternatives for their four-door small car fix (potentially boosting competitor sales) or simply go with the SUV-buying trend.

It’s hard to tell exactly what impact this will have on Honda’s bottom line, or any other brands, but the Australian market has seen a similar exodus in the light sedan segment that began about six years ago.

Sedan versions of the Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Almera and Mitsubishi Mirage – as well as the Honda City – were all available at one point, but with all being ditched in favour of either focussing on hatchback versions or abandoning the segment altogether, we’ll have to wait and see if the same thing happens to small cars.