Power of 10 as Honda takes on world with new all-new Civic
PUBLISHED: 15:46 14 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:46 14 March 2017
The new 10th-generation Civic, Honda's biggest single model development ever and the first designed for a world market, shows that life begins at 40, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Honda’s all-new 10th-generation Civic is taking on the world as the first designed for a global market in its 40-year history.
With 620,000 sales a year worldwide, Honda has shunned styling for individual markets with a one-size-fits-all design, benchmarked on stringent European standards, which also brings economies of scale. Little wonder this Civic was the largest single model development programme in the company’s history.
Looks and image
The UK will get only the five-door hatchback, built at Honda’s Swindon plant, but the American market will also get a coupe and saloon.
The aim was sportier styling and it looks more purposeful and squatter – 30mm wider, 20mm lower and 130mm longer. A longer wheelbase means even more cabin space and a 34mm lower centre of gravity, coupled with new suspension, improves ride and driving dynamics.
Add larger, wider wheels and tyres, black and chrome trim finishes, and the Civic turns heads.
Under the bonnet
Two all-new turbo petrol engines – 129PS, three-cylinder 1.0-litre and 182PS, four-cylinder 1.5-litre – replace the naturally-aspirated 1.4 and 1.8-litre units, neither a Civic strongpoint. Both are offered with new six-speed manual and CVT automatic gearboxes.
A new 1.6-litre turbo diesel comes later this year but the petrol focus shows where Honda sees the future, especially with 83% private sales. The 1.0-litre will take 70% of sales with 60% of total customers opting for manual transmission.
The ultra smooth 1.5 has sparkling performance, picking up from low revs and spinning eagerly to the red line.
The manual gearbox needs 40% less effort and it’s the first CVT I could live with, particularly with the 1.5-litre, as software, exclusive to Europe, simulates seven gears with shift paddles behind the steering wheel for manual shifting.
The perky 1.0-litre is a cracker, with strong low-down pull and revving freely with a rorty, sporty engine note – it’s great fun without reaching ridiculous speeds.
How it drives
What a difference the new platform, lighter, stiffer body, revised steering and new, more complex multi-link rear suspension makes. The latter was cost-effective with the single global model.
The first thing that strikes you is how good and quiet the ride is but not at the expense of a dynamic drive, sporty steering and good composue through bends.
Top models feature adaptive damping but it’s more firmer ride than sharper handling.
Space and practicality
The previous Civic is roomy but the new one has 95mm more rear legroom and a class-leading 478-litre boot, with a large underfloor compartment. It’s well shaped and 60/40 split rear seat backs fold flat.
Unfortunately that multi-link rear suspension sees the fuel tank moved under the back seat so the flip-up, cinema-style rear Magic Seats are no more – a shame but not a deal breaker.
At the wheel
Honda has put a lot of effort into the cabin with a higher quality ambience and the old twin-tier control fascia replaced by a seven-inch TFT LCD driver information interface – a large rev counter with an inset digital speedo and trip computer to you and me. The modern touchscreen is a big improvement on the old low-tech displays.
The top of the fascia has soft-touch plastic, set off by smart, visible stitching but the hard plastics lower down are not so classy.
On the safety front, all models get the comprehensive Honda Sensing suite of active safety and driver assist technologies to warn of a potential collision and brake automatically, stop the car wandering out of its lane or off the road, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition with the ability to adjust the speed accordingly.
With 40 years of heritage behind the Civic, it is still pushing the boundaries… honed, toned but certainly not cloned.
HONDA CIVIC 1.0 VTEC TURBO SE
Engine: 988cc, 129PS, three-cylinder turbo petrol
Performance: 0-62mph 10.8 seconds; top speed 126mph (CVT 10.6 seconds, 125mph)
MPG: Urban 46.3; extra urban 68.9; combined 58.9 (CVT 51.4, 67.3, 60.1)
CO2 emissions: 110g/km (CVT 106g/km)
HONDA CIVIC 1.5 VTEC TURBO SPORT
Engine: 1,498cc, 182PS, four-cylinder turbo petrol
Performance: 0-62mph 8.2 seconds; top speed 136mph (CVT 125mph)
MPG: Urban 38.2; extra urban 57.7; combined 48.7 (CVT 35.8, 56.5, 46.3)
CO2 emissions: 133g/km (CVT 139g/km)
Price: £18,335 to £27,295
Warranty: Three years or 90,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,518mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,076mm; H 1,434mm