The European market Honda Civic with the 1.6 litre i-DTEC diesel engine is now available with a nine-speed automatic transmission, which Honda says delivers impressive shifting refinement and official average fuel economy of 24.4 km/l in the latest NEDC test.

Available for all grades and across both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback models, this is the first time that a combination of a diesel engine and an automatic gearbox has been available on a Civic. The Civic Hatchback was introduced in Europe early last year with two turbo petrol engines, a 1.0 litre three-cylinder and a 1.5 litre four-cylinder. Gearbox options included a six-speed manual and a CVT automatic.

The 1.6 litre i-DTEC engine produces 120 PS at 4,000 rpm and 300 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. Combined with the 9AT, it can power the five-door Civic from 0-100 km/h in 11 seconds, and on to a top speed of 200 km/h. The new powertrain combo has also recorded low CO2 emissions of 108 g/km (sedan) and 109 g/km (hatchback).

Honda says that with a wide spread of gears, the nine-speed torque converter automatic is very efficient – the very low first-gear ratio delivers a smooth and powerful launch, while a high top-gear ratio ensures low engine speed while cruising, which reduces fuel consumption and noise.

Depending on the engine speed and throttle application, the transmission is also capable of ‘skipping’ gears for quick response, for example shifting down directly from ninth to fifth gear or from seventh to fourth, in addition to one- and two-gear downshifts.

Honda’s latest 1.6 litre i-DTEC engine features forged steel pistons for reducing cooling loss and ‘super plateau honing’, which lowers the friction level between the pistons and the cylinder bores to enable smooth piston movement and enhance the long-term wear characteristics of the engine.

The revised turbo features an efficient variable-nozzle design and its rotational speed is precisely controlled by the car’s electronics, minimising lag and providing an optimal combination of low to mid-range pull and high-speed performance. Energy loss from the system is lower than in the previous i-DTEC, thanks to a new design of compressor in the turbocharger. All of these upgrades contribute to an improvement in fuel consumption.

The i-DTEC is one of the first engines to be officially tested through the Real Driving Emission (RDE) procedure to validate NOx and particulate emission levels. The diesel powertrain has a new NOx Storage Converter (NSC) system with a higher processing cell density, which enables faster conversion and a reduction in emissions.

A silver thin-coated particulate filter further improves the combustion efficiency of particulate matter, extending exhaust component durability, due to shorter heat production in the particular filter.

The Civic Hatchback is made in Honda’s Swindon plant in the UK, while the sedan continues to be built in Turkey for European markets. By the way, the i-DTEC-9AT combo is available on the CR-V in Thailand.

GALLERY: European Honda Civic Hatchback