New Honda Civic Sedan (2016) First Drive

Hondacivic


Honda has introduced its new Civic sedan in South Africa (replete with a turbopetrol engine) and we attended the launch of the newcomer in Cape Town. Let’s take a closer look at what the new Civic brings to the market…

The Civic is an important model for the Japanese firm and its lineage spans over 40 years, making it the oldest model in Honda’s stable. Since its inception in 1973 (first introduced in South Africa in 1982), more than 23 million Civics have found homes in at least 170 countries and regions across the world.

The latest iteration of the Civic, now in its tenth generation, has hit South African shores to assert itself in the C-segment with a new 1.5-litre turbopetrol engine. Also, with the D-segment Accord officially discontinued on the local market, the new Civic intends to fill the gap somewhat with its larger dimensions and upmarket interior. Let’s dig into the details.

What’s on offer?


A new 1.5-litre turbo engine powers the new Civic with 127 kW and 220 Nm of torque.

The biggest news for the Civic is the introduction of an all-new 1.5-litre VTEC turbocharged petrol engine that produces a healthy 127 kW and 220 Nm of torque, but is claimed to consume only 5.9 L/100 km, accelerate from zero to 100 kph in 8.2 seconds and achieve a top speed of 200 kph.

To complement this new offering, the Civic can also be had with an updated version of the familiar 1.8-litre naturally aspirated engine carried over from the outgoing model. This unit delivers identical outputs 104 kW and 174 Nm, but with a claimed fuel consumption improvement of 8.8% over its predecessor (6.3 L/100 km). The sprint from zero to 100 kph is slower compared to the 1.5T variants, Honda claims a figure of 10.4 seconds with a top speed of 200 kph.

Both engines are mated with a CVT transmission specifically calibrated to each of the motors. To further maximise efficiency, both engines feature an Econ (economy) mode as well as an Eco Assist feature that assists the driver to adopt a more fuel-efficient driving style by the use of different-coloured readouts on the instrument cluster.

The new Civic range starts with the entry-level 1.8 Comfort derivative, which is followed by the 1.8 Elegance derivative. The 1.5T Sport variant features a sporty exterior treatment (including a rear spoiler and dark grille), while the range-topping 1.5T Executive features a full raft of safety and convenience features. These include adaptive cruise control with a low-speed following function, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning and lane watch with side cameras.

New design for Honda Civic


The new Honda Civic is longer, wider and sits lower on the road compared to its predecessor. 

The styling of the new Civic incorporates three main focus areas incorporating what Honda calls "charismatic design", soulfulness and comfort. Compared with its predecessor, the newcomer is 109 mm longer, sits 20 mm lower and its wheelbase has been stretched by 30 mm.

Undoubtedly shapelier and more distinctive than before, the Civic’s coupe-like shape is further enhanced with a wide stance and a longer bonnet. The front end dons a solid wing running across the width of the nose with a slim headlight design, while the taillights feature a bracketed design complemented with LED light bars. A choice of three wheel styles (in 16- and 17-inch rim sizes) are offered.

Full LED headlights and LED daytime running lights are fitted to the 1.5T derivatives, while the 1.8-litre Civics are fitted with projector halogen headlights.

Significantly, the new Civic is built on a lightweight platform that incorporates as much as 12% high-tensile steel, making it 22 kg lighter than the model it replaces with 2% improvement in torsional stiffness, all of which aids performance and economy.

Improved interior


The interior of the new Civic features a high-quality material finish, giving the interior a more upmarket feel. 

Apart from its sharper styling, the interior of the new Civic has been vastly improved with the use of higher quality materials and soft-touch surfaces. The cabin is attractive, with a minimalist design. There aren’t many buttons and knobs on the centre console and dashboard, with much of the functionality migrating to the high-resolution 7-inch touchscreen display (a 5-inch display is offered on the entry-level derivatives).

Audio system settings, Bluetooth connectively, navigation functions and vehicle information can be easily accessed via the touchscreen. Even the air-conditioning (dual zone climate control on 1.5T derivatives) can be adjusted via inputs to the display.

The steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach and features comprehensive mounted controls. Two USB ports are offered on higher spec derivatives as are heated seats for the driver and passenger as well as cruise control. A new electronic parking brake and brake hold function is also included as standard.

Sport and Executive derivatives feature Walk Away Auto Lock that will automatically lock the car as you walk away from it while keyless entry is standard on 1.5T derivatives. In addition, the Executive model also features a remote engine start function that allows you to start the engine from outside the car using the Civic’s smart key fob.

Thanks to its larger dimensions, the Civic's cabin is more spacious... and it certainly feels that way. Rear passengers benefit from 55 mm more knee room and those of moderate height can sit "behind themselves" in comfort, headroom is good too and shoulder room better than in the previous car. Boot space has also increased to 430 litres. The newcomer should be well suited to families and, crucially, not only married couples with little children either.

What’s the new Civic like to drive?


The Honda Civic features improved ride quality and NVH levels are kept to a minimum.

The launch route took us into the Cape countryside where quiet, open roads gave us the opportunity to get to grips with the new Civic. Incidentally, only 1.5T Executive and Sport derivatives were available for evaluation. 

Honda has lowered the top edge of the bonnet to improve forward visibility and you also sit some 20 mm lower in the new Civic. The driving position is good and will especially be beneficial on longer trips in terms of comfort, but I would say it feels less than sporty. 

The new 1.5-litre turbo engine delivers decent performance and acceleration is brisk enough to execute overtaking manoeuvres quickly and safely on the highway. The CVT transmission was better than we expected and it didn’t exhibit annoying levels of droning that is so characteristic of continuously variable transmissions. It’s actually one of the better CVT’s we’ve experienced so far. If you wish to extract maximum performance from the Civic, simply shift the 'box into the Sport position and use the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel to engage manual shifting.

With its wider stance, the Civic is more planted on the road and it feels solid and composed at higher speeds. The Civic features what Honda calls Agile Handling Assist (AHA), which anticipates loss of control and takes corrective action by tempering throttle and brake inputs in imperceptible increments to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle. Other safety features include Vehicle Stability Control, Hill Start Assist and ABS with EBD. A total of six airbags are standard too. All derivatives, except the base model, are also equipped with rear parking sensors and a reverse camera.

Ride quality is good and the Civic manages to deliver improved ride quality with the help of its newly developed front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension. Honda has also improved Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels and it was only on rougher road surfaces that excessive road noise made its way into the cabin. A quiet cabin, allied by the well-built and finished interior instils a sense of "executiveness" to the Civic driving experience. 

Summary

Our first impressions of the new Honda Civic are largely positive. It seems much-improved compared with the somewhat anodyne previous-generation car. The Civic is pricier than its direct rivals such as the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Jetta, but it can be argued that the attraction of the Honda nameplate is reliability, solidity and classy conservatism (which has underpinned much of the brand's sales success to date). Given its spaciousness, luxuriousness and cabin/ride refinement, the newcomer could appeal to buyers who would look beyond conventional compact sedans for a family vehicle. Whether the Civic's talents will be appealing enough to lure buyers away from dominant, more premium marques' products is another story.

We will have the new Honda Civic on test in the near future, so look out for a thorough evaluation coming your way soon!

New Honda Civic – Price in South Africa

1.8 Comfort CVT – R330 000 
1.8 Elegance CVT – R370 000 
1.5T Sport CVT – R430 000 
1.5T Executive CVT – R460 000 

Pricing includes a 5-year/200 000 km warranty, a 5-year/90 000 km service plan, as well as 3-years of AA Roadside Assistance. Services are at 15 000 km.

Search for a new or used Honda Civic on Cars.co.za 

Related Honda Civic content:

Honda Civic Type-R (2016) Review
5 Things to Know About the New Honda Civic Type-R
Track Race: Audi RS3 vs Merc-AMG A45 vs Honda Civic Type R vs BMW M2 [Video]
BMW M2 vs Mercedes-AMG A45 vs Audi RS3 vs Honda Civic Type-R: On-track analysis (Video)

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