The tale of the new Honda Civic is one of convenience and appeal more than anything else. Its design is a prelude to the sea change in the model itself with three grades, and two new engines. The larger engine isn’t the most powerful but it’s my choice for the day, given that it is the pop- seller.
THE SPECS: LXi and EXi: 2.0L DOHC inline-4 engine with i-VTEC 158hp@6500 rpm, 187Nm torque at 4200 rpm RS grade: Turbocharged 1.5L DOHC, direct-injected inline-4 engine with variable Valve Timing Control 180hp @6000rpm and 220Nm torque @1700-5500rpm Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Standard features: LED daytime running lights, C-shaped LED taillights, power side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, cap-less fuel system and glass antennas, 60:40 fold down rear seats, rear seat armrest with cup holders, rear ventilation
Available: Remote Engine Starter, Automatic climate control, steering wheel mounted Bluetooth, 5 or 7-inch touch screen, USB jacks, Smart Entry, Push Button Start, Electric Parking Brake, Automatic Brake Hold on a hill or an intersection, Auto Day and Night Rear View Mirror, Walk Away Locking, Cruise Control, Electronic Power Steering, Rear Parking Sensors, Sunroof and Honda LANEWATCHTM
WOWME feature!: Honda LANEWATCHTM uses a camera located below the passenger side view mirror to display the passenger side road condition. The Multi-Angle Rearview Camera also gives 3 different viewing angles.
SAFETY features: Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Traction Control Systems (TCS), Anti-Lock Brake Systems (ABS), Electronic Brake Distributor (EBD), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
THE PRICE: AED 72,900 onwards with 5-year/unlimited kilometer warranty
THE UPSIDE: Striking design, Practical storage design, LANEWATCH overtaking view, Safety, Fuel efficiency
THE FLIPSIDE: Over-sensitive steering feel, Narrow rear view
The new design too looks like a lot of effort has gone into the detail but unlike the earlier model, it doesn’t look laboured. In fact, the new Civic largely justifies what the marketing communication calls it – ‘the stunning new Honda Civic.’
The bracket lamps in the rear; the narrow yet wide smile of the front lights; the side lights; the little yellow lamps tucked away low in the front and the rear, as well as on the side just above the tires; the fog lamps on the lower grille; and the hefty-looking single-piece grille itself complete the new design greeting.
The lines on the bonnet and the sides could be considered evidence for a working night spent on tequila. Almost psychedelic C-shaped rear lamps and the fast back design with the sportily raking rear screen give the new Honda Civic a decidedly sporty appeal. These 16-inch alloy wheels could easily be part of a luxury car’s ensemble. Honda has just guaranteed you a second look.
The 1.5 L turbocharged engine seems to be the star as it beats as the sporty heart of the catchy new RS grade Civic. But the 2L engine that drives the EXi grade I’m testing is powerful enough – 158 hp and 187 N-m – if you ignore an initial hesitation at times. Once you are past the 2000 rpm mark, everything is sorted whether you are cruising or overtaking. But then, the drive is not exactly a smooth cruise – it is somewhat stiff but the 16 inch wheels turned out to be quite suitable for the drive. The Sport mode, as it opens its throttle wide, gives it a very pronounced CVT feel. [Just because it is a CVT, it doesn’t have to feel like one!] Which makes the D-mode my favourite – quite enjoyable!
Pardon the overkill, but this car would be steadier without its steering! While the Civic is quite err… civic about giving you what you want, the steering sometimes gives a little too much, displaying an odd sensitivity in the follow through of a turn. That’s one point down.
The swept back styling is cool but what is cooler is that the outward vision doesn’t suffer. The pillars help track the blind-spots too but the sporty, bluntly angled rear glass might be hard on those who aren’t used to such raking. What you see in the rear-view mirror is comparatively narow; so a slight shift in your seat could change your view behind.
The high tensile steel helps keep the weight low, as most cars do these days, for rather respectable fuel efficiency figures: 9.6L per 100kms (Factory figures of most cars are seriously Utopian!)
Cabin and Controls
I could count seven layers on the dashboard. Thankfully, it doesn’t look “layered” or complicated and the materials used – the rubber, the hard plastic and what seems to be veneer but looks like textured graphite – are quite cool actually.
The Honda Civic’s dashboard has never failed to impress. You might remember the unique speedometer that did a 3D-like projection out of the dashboard, much before digital speedometers became commonplace. Now, a ‘normal’ speedometer is flanked by two little specs of light that clearly marks the status of fuel or the temperature. By the way, the new Civic doesn’t seem to have an ‘Automatic’ mode for front lamps.
Everyone’s telematics capabilities are in a flux but probably Honda’s is not as impressive as many others – it’s functional all the same! Thankfully, the Honda Civic doesn’t have the redundant second screen seen in the Accord. The EXi trim comes with a 7-inch screen which is flanked by Home, Volume, Audio, Menu controls and one little panel to control the air conditioning. The rest of the controls use the touch-screen. The new Honda thing called LANEWATCH too uses this screen to display the right hand scene when you wish to switch lanes. The lane-change camera gets activated along with your right indicator switch, or by pressing the button at the end of the stalk.
Contrary to the exteriors and the dash, the console is kept starkly simple which might not be appreciated by many. A short shifter is flanked by an economy button, the brake hold and the electronic parking brake.
The all-new Civic is offering some neat lessons in systematic space management within its cabin. Just behind the gear-shifter there are casual storage spots including a stowaway area with some surface grip, ideal for mobile phones. There is a spot on top for sunglasses. Under the sliding armrest, too, is a spacious niche! Likewise, Hondas aren’t known for their boot space but here is an exception. The new Honda Civic has enough space in the rear and the boot, despite its fast back design and a dropping roofline.
The new Honda Civic has plenty of premium convenience. Besides keyless opening, you can start the car from a distance to get the AC running. The car reminds you if it is not locked when you leave and still better, you can simply walk away and the car will lock itself! Japanese prudence has given the EX fabric seats which are very comfortable. They know that the snobbery of leather and the Arabian sun don’t go well with each other. But the EX and RS grades come with a nicely-sized sunroof.
As for safety, the new Civic is built using Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE™) body structure. The numerous active safety features (listed above) awarded it a 2016 Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the USA.
The essential Honda Civic 2016
The Civic EX is almost as big as a Nissan Altima in the parking lot, and with the new design and some innovative thinking in the gadgets you need, the Honda Civic makes sense starting from 72,900 Dirhams. My test car costs 79,000.
Finding out if Honda Civic RS grade is worth the extra 10 grand is going to be exciting, if appearances can be trusted. Read it right away for a straight comparison.