TOKYO -- The new Honda Civic will have a more efficient hybrid powertrain than the current model.
The electric motor saves gasoline by driving the wheels alone at low speeds -- a first for Honda hybrids. Toyota's hybrids already work this way.
At low speeds, the current Civic's hybrid powertrain uses both the electric motor and gasoline engine.
Honda says the Civic hybrid will burn at least 5 percent less gasoline than the current version, which uses 4.9 liters per 100km, according to EurotaxSchwacke.
By comparison, the Toyota Prius uses 4.3 liters per 100km.
The new system also raises total power output by about 20 percent, making it comparable to a 1.8-liter engine. That was made possible partly by using an electric motor with high-performance magnets and high-density coils.
The Civic hybrid will arrive in European showrooms as a four-door model next spring.
It likely will be badged as the Civic Hybrid, dropping the current name, the Civic IMA, which stands for integrated motor assist.