New 1.6 Diesel boosts appeal of Honda Civic

Road Tested by Hugh Maguire

Road Tested by Hugh Maguire

The 9th generation of the legendary Honda Civic was launched here last year.

However we have had to wait until now to see the introduction of the eagerly awaited new diesel engine Honda have been working on. Well its here now in the new Honda Civic 1.6 iDTEC.

Up to now Honda did offer a 2.2 diesel in the car but although it offered low emissions a smaller capacity unit was needed as buyers stayed away from what is perceived in the Irish market to be quite a big capacity engine. This smaller 1.6 litre diesel engine is all new and will really broaden the appeal of the new Civic.

Three versions are available, SE, ES (as on test here) and the EX.

Buyers can expect to see this superb new engine in a two wheel drive version of the new CRV as well.

The new car really represents in styling terms at least an evolution of the previous model. In that respect I feel it looks well but will not surprise or shock in the way the previous model did upon its launch. I like the new look. The overall shape is the same but the new car is longer, wider and lower than the outgoing model.

When you see it beside the outgoing model the cosmetic differences and its increased size become more apparent.

The cabin has been improved with higher grade materials throughout, and a revised design with similarities to the previous car but it is all new.

The improvement in quality is immediately obvious, gone are the hard plastics to be replaced by better soft feel materials and more use of leather on the steering wheel and gearshift for example, The whole effect creates a more upmarket, high quality feel to the interior.

As you would expect standard equipment is very good on the ES and includes highlights such as Bluetooth, a reversing camera, 16 inch alloys, cruise control, auto lights, auto wipers, Auto stop/start, hill start assist, USB and Aux ports, and LED day running lights.

There is more! Safety is well catered for with ABS, with VSA, EBD and EBA, 6 airbags, and ISOFIX and a full 5 Star Euro NCAP crash test rating.

This new 1.6 diesel turbo is a revelation. Quite simply it is one of the very best diesel engines I have ever tested! It is quiet, even from a cold start, very refined, truly economical, and performs perfectly.

Honda worked very hard to ensure that this new unit was as close to a petrol in refinement with little or no vibration or harshness.

They succeeded. Mated to a new 6-speed manual transmission the combination makes for a rewarding driving experience. With a healthy power output of 120PS and a C02 emissions of just 94g, the new iDTEC is just about perfect. Over my weeks test it burned just 5.6 litres of diesel per 100km, without any effort at economical driving.

Believe it or not the new Civic iDTEC drives and handles even better than its recently launched petrol stablemates. The whole mix of revised suspension settings, a light engine, that new transmission and even better refinement make this Civic 1.6 diesel the car of choice in the range. Its just about perfect. Honda have really engineered this car very well right down to the last detail such as Active Noise Cancellation. A speaker in the roof lining picks up engine noise in the cabin and the system then plays an opposing sound from the stereo (whether its on or off) to cancel out the noise! Brilliant!

I also simply felt that the overall driving experience was much better, right down to tactile things like that thick rimmed steering wheel which looks and feels very good.

This new Civic is really good to drive, to the point that it is actually a car you will find fun to hustle along a challenging road.

One small gripe I had was that there is no spare wheel. As with many manufacturers these days they supply a tyre sealant kit which is just not good enough for our roads.

This is being done to save weight and get the C02 emissions down as a result, bt come on Honda, give us a spare. Even a spacesaver would help!

Verdict

The new 1.6 iDTEC is the Civic of choice. It is a car that offers so much. Its frugal and eco friendly but not at the cost of rewarding motoring.

I like it, , I like it alot, and once you drive one you will see why. A very good car just got even better! The standard specification is excellent with items such as the reversing camera a real bonus and not the norm in this class.

The 1.6 iDTEC range starts at €23,975. The model tested the ES costs €25,095.

Honda have hit the bullseye with this one!