HONDA Civic Review

OUR TEST CAR: HONDA Civic 1.8 i-VTEC 2012

HONDA Civic - Page - 1
Even though most people will raise their eyebrows when reading this, the Civic is now in its ninth generation and this new one comes with an extremely difficult mission. This is because its predecessor brought a set of changes that took the idea of revolution in the carmaker's range further than ever before, so the fresh model has to beat a car that was extremely impressive.

Honda is well aware of this and thus hasn't set itself the goal to reinvent its compact contender. The company used the same platform, albeit revised, and thus the designers had a limited play area. The same approach was used from the inter

However, the engineers were asked to refined the car to an extent that would allow anybody to feel this without any explanations.

So, the Civic adds the refinement card and hopes to get closer to winning more hands than before. Of course, this will never be a segment leader in terms of sales, but then again, Honda is aiming for the customers that want something special. However, the changes bring it closer to a family car, so we've got to find out if the new new Civic works.

We've chosen the current entry-level petrol engine, the 1.8-liter four-cylinder petrol borrowed from the previous generation. We also had an "Executive" coat thrown over the car, the best one you can have, and we set out to find the European meaning of the fresh Civic.

The US version of the vehicle has received a few pieces of criticism, but the European one is radically different, so let’s see if the different hat offers us a better rabbit.

Honda chose to stick to the platform of the previous generations, which left the designers with pretty limited space to maneuver their pens. While this might bring extra points for the interior (the rear visibility was improved), it did leave the car with an appearance that doesn't seem to appeal to the general public.

We approve the car's originality, we've always said that the market needs cars with a bold design, and we are offering the Civic some points for this, but we can't ignore the fact that the end result is not necessarily pleasant for the eye. However, if there is one thing that was improved that is the height of the profile (we’re talking about perception here), as the car comes with a lower stance, which makes it look sportier than before.

The panoramic glass roof, which comes in standard for the Executive range-topping version we tested, together with the tinted windows, really change the appearance of the car more than this sort of features manage to do, as they influence the design altogether rather than being just some extra elements, so we would recommend these.

The new design also enhanced the aerodynamics, with the Civic now offering a drag coefficient of 0.27, one of the best in its class.

We’ll start with the dashboard here, which is a slight evolution of the previous generation’s one and can be considered a gadget itself. The layout, which seems to be bolted on straight from Enterprise's main deck. We've never been on the Star Trek set, but we reckon that the ergonomics weren't exactly top notch and it's the same inside the Civic, when we're talking about the futuristic aspects of the dash.

The "layer" that sits at the top isn't all that visible if the daylight is strong and isn't too well protected from glare either. As for the controls, these are well-placed, but certain menus of the on-board computers aren’t intuitive.

The small, driver-orientated center console generates mixed feelings: we liked the way in which it added a sporty appeal to the cabin, but we asked more people to give us their opinion on this and there were some that saw this an an useless feature that just makes the buttons more difficult to press for the passenger.

Both the front and the rear seats are comfortable and can cater to your long trip needs regardless of the distance, with the space being enough for all the passengers.

The vehicle we tested used leather for the seats, but this wasn't actual leather, which resulted in a rather unpleasant experience once the temperature climbs past a certain level and thus we recommend using the cloth upholstery.

The layout of the car offers a low driving position, but the overall visibility is good, with the most improvements over the last generations being found at the rear.

Even though this generation is nowhere near the one it replaces in terms of originality, you'll still be noticed while driving around the city. The design of the car manages to draw attention, but most people will look away pretty fast, as the fresh lines are not as pleasant as the ones of the replaced model.

The designers manage to reach a good compromise between an original shape and practical assets when it came to the rear of the car, so the new window design dramatically improves visibility. This proves that a futuristic rear window styling, a wiper and the possibility for the car to be parked with relative ease can coexist.

The elasticity of the VTEC powerplant means that you can drive the car around town with ease and the light steering also helps around the tight areas. The first ratios of the excellent six-speed manual are pretty tight, so you can step up your morning “don’t be late” game if you need to, but a quick look on the power and torque curves reveals that you’ll have to push the engine hard in order to do this.

Despite of the low profile and bold styling cues, the vehicle comes with easy access, so frequent stops won’t be a problem. All in all, the Civic is a good way of tackling the urban jungle, as it offers a versatile package on top of the traditional values of a compact.

Driving the Civic past the city limits brings a totally different experience depending on what you're expecting from the car. If you trust the excellent, sporty, gear changes and you use a dynamic driving style, you will be disappointed, as the vehicle will fail to react. However, if you're the kind that focuses on comfort, you and the car will have a good time together.

The suspension has been setup to favorize ride over handling and while this is pleasant, we can't ignore the fact that other competitors don't have to give up so much of the latter in order to gain the first. The steering is also better compared to the one of the replaced model, but still feels vague, so don’t rely on it to tell you too many things about the front wheels.

The engineers have managed to make a good compromise in terms of the engine however, as the 1.8-liter VTEC petrol unit suits absolutely every driving style thanks to its variable distribution. This is mated to an excellent six-speed manual that offers quick and precise shifts.

If your eves are on the list of optional extras, you can tick the panoramic glass roof, which, despite of the fact that it can’t be opened, brings a nice touch of extra light, but stay away from the artificial leather, which will make you sweat and ruin the entire experience.

Honda promised a Civic that comes with significantly enhanced comfort and this is exactly what the company delivered. The suspension tweaks and the superior soundproofing compared to the previous generation, coupled with the spacious interior and the wide seats make this a pleasant partner for long trips, as long as you’re not looking for go-fast thrills.
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autoevolution May 2012
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61user rating 139 votes
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