The new Honda Civic range comprises four models, offering a choice of two engines and four specification grades, and all are fitted with a new CVT automatic gearbox.
The styling of the new Civic reflects a silhouette for a four-door sedan, creating the overall impression of a sleek sports coupé, with special attention being given to the detailed surfaces in order to fuse quality with sportiness. The sculpted body shape emphasises the new Civic’s sporty character, and is re-enforced by the lower and wider stance, with a longer bonnet and short front overhang.
Overall the new Honda Civic sedan presents a more aggressive, athletic and dynamic appearance, while also creating more interior room compared to the outgoing model. Overall, the wheelbase has been increased by 30 mm, the total length by 109 mm, while height has been lowered by 20 mm.
The reduced height and aesthetic appeal translates into a lower centre of gravity for greater on-road stability, and boosts cornering confidence, encouraging sporty, engaging driving, while a solid wing face spans the entire front width of the car, and incorporates the brand’s bold grille design and the new slim headlight treatment.
Advanced full LED headlights and LED daytime running lights are fitted to the 1,5-litre TURBO models for the first time, with the remaining models in the range equipped with projector-type halogen units. LED daytime running lights are standard on all models. At the rear, the new Civics’ characteristic bracketed tail light design has been re-interpreted with eye-catching LED light bars on either side. The 1.8 derivatives ride on 16’ alloy rims shod with 215/55R16 rubber while the 1.5 turbos have 17” rims with lower profile 215/50R17 tyres.
The interior treatment reflects Honda’s ‘Daring ACE Design’ concept, combining high-quality materials with an ergonomically intuitive centre console. The heated front bucket seats are fully adjustable and with the steering wheel being adjustable for both rake and reach, no one should have a problem finding a comfortable driving position. At the back, with the increased knee space and more shoulder room, there’s plenty of room for three adults.
The roomy interior makes extensive use of attractive soft-touch and accent materials. Leather seats are standard on all but the entry-level model while on an ergonomic level all controls are user friendly, including the new high-deck centre console encompassing key features such as the all-new Electric Parking Brake and Brake Hold function.
Oddment storage is provided for in the in the generous door pockets, the cubby, while the 519 litre boot is probably the largest in its class.
The new Civic comes with an extensive range of advanced technologies including the advanced interface provided by the high-resolution, seven-inch- WVGA LCD display that forms the centre-piece for the digital audio system. The expansive IPS display can be viewed from both driver and passenger seats, and the air-conditioning is also operated on the display panel.
The innovative system enables connection with numerous smartphone functions, including maps for ease of navi operation. The system is also compatible with various media formats, and can be operated by controls conveniently located on the multifunction steering wheel.
In addition, a switch on the steering wheel can perform alphabet searches and switching of content, while a separate switch for the volume has been added. Other Civic firsts such as Walk Away Auto Lock operated by the smart key system and Smart keyless entry are standard on the Sport and Executive 1.5-litre TURBO models.
The top of the range Civic Executive derivative is packed with features which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, Forward Collision Warning and Lane watch with side-sensing cameras
Safety equipment includes six airbags, Vehicle Stability Control with Hill Start Assist, disc brakes all round with ABS and EBD, complemented with a reverse camera and rear parking sensors on all but the base model. Also includes is Honda’s new Agile Handling Assist which anticipates a loss of control during cornering and helps to prevent it by continuously modulating brake and throttle inputs in small, imperceptible increments to assist overall driver control.
However, the BIG news for the new Civics is the all-new 1.5 litre four-cylinder V-Tec turbo-charged petrol engine in the Sport and Executive models. Pushing out a healthy 127 kw at 5 500 rpm and 220 Nm of torque from 1 700 rpm it will cover the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in just 8.2 seconds, has a top speed of 200 km/h and a petrol consumption in the combined cycle of 5.9 litres per 100 km.
The entry level Comfort and Elegance models retain the familiar 1.8-litre normally aspirated petrol engines, developing 174 Nm at 6 500 rpm and 104 Nm at 3 000 rpm in terms of performance gets from 0 to 100 km/h in 10.4 seconds, top speed given as 200 km/h and average fuel consumption of 6.3 L/100 km. It’s a great little engine, immediately responsive, and in typical Honda style it thrives on revs – even at higher speeds and heavier throttle loads it remains refined.
The Civic engines are matched as standard to a CVT automatic with paddle-shifters sending torque to the front wheels. There’s also an Auto Hold anti-creeping function, as well as a modern electric parking brake.
For the ride and drive we started out in the Honda Civic Executive model. From the driver’s seat the digital instrument panel gives the car a futuristic look and delivers clear, concise information. The trip computer is detailed and the graphics move at a high frame rate, giving the display a smooth, high-end effect.
The new 1.5 turbo motor is a gem, quiet and effortless with plenty of torque that offers spirited performance on the road. Now I’ve never been a fan of CVT gearboxes but I must admit that the new CVT in the Civic is the best one I’ve driven so far.
Floor the accelerator from a standing start there’s the slightest amount of turbo lag, but once you get above 1 700 rpm, the motor starts pulling strongly, with none of the stretchiness you normally associate with a CVT. The wide torque band means that, once you’re up and running, progress is both swift and reasonably effortless, and it pulls well up hills, at around the middle of the rev range, without getting to the 6 000 rpm redline.
Cruising along the freeways is most relaxed, thanks to the car’s impressively quiet cabin. At a steady 120 km/h the motor turns at just 2 000 rpm and the trip meter gave me a fuel consumption reading of 6.5L/100km. The tank holds 47 litres.
The recommended retail pricing @ August 2016 for the new Honda Civic starts at R330 000 for the 1.8 Comfort CVT, R370 000 for the 1.8 Elegance CVT, R430 000 for the 1.5T Sport CVT with the flagship model 1.5T Executive CVT at R460 000. Prices include a five-year/200 000 km warranty, a five-year/90 000 km service plan, and three years of AA Roadside Assistance.