Already voted the 2016 North American Car of the Year, Honda’s best-selling car globally comes Down Under in five grades – VTi, VTi-S, VTi-L, RS and VTi-LX. Initial interest is centred on the RS at $31,790 and VTi-LX, $33,590, plus on-road costs. The line-up kicks off with the VTi at $22,390.
Aimed to appeal to a wide range of customers the new sedan sets the bar high in the small-car class with the addition of the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver-assist technologies, available on the halo model VTi-LX (the test vehicle).
For those who would like a splash of extra colour in their driving experience Honda has introduced the optional Black Pack, which fitted to the VTi, VTi-S, VTi-L and VTi-LX for $2998 includes black 17-inch alloys, black front under spoiler, black side skirt set, black door mirror covers, black ducktail spoiler and black sports grille.
Owners of the sporty RS can get in on the act with a Black Pack that includes 17-inch black alloys, black front under spoiler, black side skirt set and black door mirror covers for $2298.
The new sedan leads a three-pronged launch program for the model with the Civic hatch arriving in the first half of 2017, followed by the high-performance Type R hatch.
The new Civic front is more forceful than that of its predecessor, with its full-width, deep horizontal chrome-plated band cutting the radiator grille from the air intake below and ending in LED headlamps on the outer edges. The Honda ‘H’ is writ large on the central grille.
A long bonnet links with swept-back, slim A-pillars announcing a profile given over to aerodynamic efficiency. Complemented by underbody panelling, this once again improves fuel-efficiency and delivers the bonus of cabin quietness.
A coupe-style roof line connects seamlessly with C-pillars that carry the curvature to the outside rear corners of the long boot, where they intersect with Honda’s signature C-shaped ‘light-pipe’ LED taillights.
The interior attains new levels of quality, refinement and spaciousness for the Civic. The completely new interior is designed to combine enhanced comfort with innovative technology.
Quality, soft-touch materials are used on the instrument panel, front door sash and door inserts, and the larger, extra-padded centre armrest. With the Civic’s longer wheelbase and wider body, occupants enjoy good headroom, legroom, shoulder clearance and side head clearance.
Rear seat knee clearance has been increased by 55 mm compared to the outgoing model.
There’s a wider and deeper boot at 517 litres in this new Civic sedan.
A new electronic parking brake space for a larger armrest and greater storage space. The main compartment is topped by a sliding, padded armrest and includes two outsize drinkholders, which can be removed to take tablet computers and other large items.
A high-mounted, easy-to-view 7-inch Android-based touchscreen allows users to swipe, tap and pinch, like on a tablet or smartphone, to control the vehicle’s audio system, display settings and other advanced features.
The VTi-LX model boasts a premium 452W audio system with ten speakers, including sub-woofer and, for the first time in a Honda, digital radio offers greater choice of stations, clearer reception and quality sound.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The Civic VTi-LX is powered by a new turbo-petrol 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, producing 127 kW of power and peak torque of 220 Nm between 1700 and 5500rpm.
The engine is mated to a new continuously variable automatic transmission that combines with the low-inertia turbo, variable timing and electronic control, and electronic waste gate to make the best of power delivery across the engine’s full rev range.
The Civic’s top-line safety rating is underpinned by the ACE (Advanced Compatibility Engineering) body structure, which uses the engine compartment to absorb and disperse collision energy during a head-on vehicle-to-vehicle collision.
However, prevention being better than cure, available for the first time on a Civic is the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assist technologies that can reduce the potential for a collision and mitigate the consequences.
This includes collision mitigation braking, incorporating forward collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with low speed follow, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation.
Particularly interesting is the lane-watch blind spot monitoring system consisting of the passenger-side mirror with an integrated camera. It offers an 80 degree view of the left lane of traffic.
Drivers no longer have to set the mirror on the passenger side correctly, but still need to do it on the driver’s side.
Digital instrumentation incorporates a large tachometer, flanked by a temperature and fuel gauge, while a digital speedo is positioned in the centre of the tachometer. On entry, the gauges progressively illuminate; when the ignition is switched on, the instrument lighting gradually brightens to full illumination.
The instruments dim progressively when the ignition is turned off and the car will automatically lock once the driver has walked 2.5 metres away from the car with the key.
New Civic incorporates the most sophisticated chassis in its history. Engineers honed the car’s dynamics, especially at high speed on unrestricted German Autobahns, which are widely considered to be among the most demanding real-world test environments for automakers.
A new generation of G-Design shift logic aids acceleration and has a more positive driving touch with reduced turbo lag, rather than the disconnected ‘rubber-band’ feel, compared to a conventional automatic transmission, found with some CVTs of old.
Honda claims the Civic VTi-LX will consume only 6.0 litres of petrol for every 100 kilometres travelled on the combined urban / highway cycle. The test car clocked up 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway and 8.0 litres per 100 around town.
In the halcyon Honda days late last century when the company packed Formula One podiums around the world, much was made of its industry-leading design and engineering. This trickled down to its everyday cars, including the Civic. In a congested present-day sales market the Civic has a lot of catching up to do. The latest model makes a good start.
AT A GLANCE
Honda Civic 1.8 VTi (CVT) sedan: $22,390
Honda Civic 1.8 VTi-S (CVT) sedan: $24,490
Honda Civic 1.5 VTi-L (CVT) sedan: $27,790
Honda Civic 1.5 RS (CVT) sedan: $31,790
Honda Civic 1.5 VTi-LX (CVT) sedan: $33,590
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Honda dealer for drive-away prices.
FEATURES (Civic 1.5 VTi-LX)
17in alloy wheels
Heated front seats
8-way electric driver’s seat
Black leather appointed
Leather-wrapped gear shift knob, steering wheel
Honda Sensing, including forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation
Adaptive Cruise Control with low-speed follow, agile handling assist, straight driving steering assist
Vehicle stability assist, traction control, anti-lock braking electronic brake-force distribution, emergency brake assist, emergency stop signal, hill start assist
Tyre deflation warning
Parking sensors front and rear
Multi-angle reversing camera (3 modes)
Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay with Siri Eyes Free mode, Android Auto with Google Voice search
Satellite navigation with SUNA traffic updates, USB port (x2), HDMI port
452W premium sound system (10 speakers, including subwoofer), speed-sensitive volume compensation
SPECIFICATIONS (Honda Civic 1.5-litre VTi-LX (CVT) turbo-petrol five-door sedan)
Capacity: 1.498 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 127 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 220 Nm @ 1700-5500 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 140 g/km
DRIVELINE: Continuously variable automatic transmission, paddle shifts
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4644 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1799 mm
Height: 1416 mm
Turning Circle: 10.7 metres
Tare Mass: 1331 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 47 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Three years / 100,000 km