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HONDA looks set this year to regain its place among the top-10 selling brands in Australia if its current momentum continues, with year-to-date sales up 43.2 per cent, to 9543 units, to the end of February.

This effort currently places Honda eighth in the 2018 sales race after two months, trailing Toyota (33,587), Mazda (20,026), Hyundai (15,125), Mitsubishi (12,405), Ford (11,704), Holden (10,408) and Nissan (9570).

Assuming its sales continue to climb for the rest of the year, Honda could challenge for a top-six finish given it is within striking distance of a declining Holden that is down 19.4 per cent year-to-date due to the switch to the imported ZB Commodore and all-new Equinox SUV.

Honda market insight – Click to enlarge

More importantly, if the Japanese brand maintains its present pace, it could exceed the 55,000 sales barrier for the first time since 2007 – the year it posted a record 60,529 sales.

In the past two years, Honda has finished 11th on the annual sales chart with 46,783 vehicles sold in 2017 (up 14.6 per cent) and 40,838 deliveries made in 2016 (up 1.8 per cent).

These improvements have come after a long period of drought, with Honda’s sales falling from more than 60,000 in 2007 to 40,000 by 2010, then plummeting a further 25 per cent the following year to just 30,107.

It would be another four years before it returned to the 40,000-unit mark – it posted 40,100 in 2015 – after a couple of years of solid growth before another setback in 2014 when it managed just 32,998 sales.

Return of the king: After skipping a generation Down Under, the Civic Type R has returned with a vengeance, helping to boost overall Civic sales by 58.7 per cent year-to-date.

Last year’s effort fell just shy of the 48,000 sales target Honda set in August, and was 5728 units short of edging out Subaru for 10th position on the annual ladder.

Its flying start to 2018 marks the first time in a decade that the brand has recorded more than 4000 sales in each of the first two months of a calendar year – the last time was January/February 2008 – and only the second time since May/June 2008 that it has strung together two consecutive months above 4000 units.

Not only were the 4962 sales last month enough to place Honda sixth overall in the industry, the company says it was fourth among sales to private buyers. The last time it was sixth outright in a single month was January 2009.

Key to Honda’s sales resurgence has been the emergence of the fifth-generation CR-V mid-size SUV in August 2017, sales of which are up a whopping 158.1 per cent through the first two months of 2018.

The mid-size SUV is the marque’s best-selling model year-to-date with 2855 examples sold, compared to the 1106 deliveries made during the same before period last year.

Honda CR-V

The venerable Civic small car has been a significant contributor as well, with 2702 units finding homes year-to-date, amounting to a 58.7 per cent increase over the 1703 examples sold to the end of February in 2017.

While the 10th-generation model launched in sedan form in May 2016, sales have been boosted by the subsequent debuts of the hatch body style in May 2017 and range-topping Type R five months later.

The HR-V small SUV continues to tick along, with 2069 deliveries made so far this year, representing a modest 3.2 per cent improvement over the 2005 units sold in 2017.

Renewed interest in the model has come after a minor model year update in May last year, with in-built satellite navigation made standard across the four-variant range while pricing held steady.

Similarly, the Jazz light hatch was facelifted in August 2017, introducing revised styling and an upgraded infotainment system, among other features, while prices rises of $200 to $500 impacted the two higher-spec variants.

Honda Civic RS Hatch

As a result, sales this year are up 16.2 per cent, to 1373 units, amounting to a steady increase over the 1182 examples sold during the same two-month period in 2017.

All other Honda models have taken a hit in 2018, including the Odyssey people-mover (342, down 13.4 per cent), City light sedan (166, down 22.4 per cent) and Accord mid-size sedan (36, down 41 per cent).

Furthermore, Honda Australia’s introduction of a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty for private buyers – matching that of rivals Renault, Skoda, Peugeot and Citroen – in July last year has likely played a critical role in driving sales further upwards.

Other high-volume bolters in 2018 include Toyota (33,587, up 16.4 per cent), Mitsubishi (12,405, up 14.5 per cent), Kia (9195, up 12.3 per cent) and Hyundai (15,125, up 10.4 per cent).

By Justin Hilliard

Honda market insight – Click to enlarge