New Honda Civic has evolved into an excellent car

The 9th generation of the legendary Honda Civic has arrived on our shores. There are essentially three engine options, a 1.4 litre petrol, the subject of this week’s road test, a 1.8 petrol, and an excellent 2.2 litre diesel which despite its cubic capacity falls into the lowest tax band A, less than the 1.4 petrol it should be noted!

The 9th generation of the legendary Honda Civic has arrived on our shores. There are essentially three engine options, a 1.4 litre petrol, the subject of this week’s road test, a 1.8 petrol, and an excellent 2.2 litre diesel which despite its cubic capacity falls into the lowest tax band A, less than the 1.4 petrol it should be noted!

Road Tested by Hugh Maguire

The 9th generation of the legendary Honda Civic has arrived on our shores. There are essentially three engine options, a 1.4 litre petrol, the subject of this week’s road test, a 1.8 petrol, and an excellent 2.2 litre diesel which despite its cubic capacity falls into the lowest tax band A, less than the 1.4 petrol it should be noted!

So to this week, my test car is the 1.4 litre i VTEC ES with optional Sat Nav, and upgraded premium audio system.

First Impressions

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.

Behind The Wheel

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 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.

Performance

Powered by Honda’s revised 1.4 litre i VTEC petrol engine producing some 100ps at 6,000rpm, and mated to a 6-speed gearbox this engine will most probably be the option most will choose. With just 129g/km it falls into band road tax band B.

Overall performance could best be described as adequate. On paper it goes from 0 to 100 km/h in about 13.4 seconds and onto a top speed of 187 km/h. In reality though especially when laden it feels rather underpowered, one needs to plan one’s overtaking carefully as it simply lacks mid range punch. On the motorway though it will cruise all day in a refined fashion at the legal limit. As I said the 1.4 iVTEC will probably prove the most popular choice but the 2.2 litre diesel for me is the one to go for. Remember the diesel falls into the lowest band A at €160 for road tax due to its super low emissions, so you get the benefit of the power without the cost! This 1.4 is more expensive to tax in Band B!

Over my week behind the wheel the new Civic did prove more frugal burning just 6.2 litre of fuel per 100km.

On The Road

There really are big improvements in the ride and handling department. The previous car was good but this new model offers a better ride quality particularly on our country roads and it is way better on refinement, being much quieter than the previous model particularly where road noise is concerned.

I 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.

These difference are really noticeable and make what was a good car much better. The new Civiv is really good to drive. The nicely weighted steering (much better than the previous offering which was too light) gives great feel and the revised suspension delivers a rewarding handling package.

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. A laudable approach but in practical terms we need a spare wheel in Ireland. I know, I once had to abandon a €40,000 test car due to the lack of a spare wheel and the fact that the tyre sealant just poured out of the hole in the side of the tyre. So Honda need to consider supplying a steel wheel or at least a space saver, the floor area in the boot is even designed to take one!

Verdict

Overall then my impressions are of a car that has evolved very nicely, retaining all the virtues of its predecessor whilst improving in areas that were weak.

I like it, 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.

So now to the all important cost?

Prices for the new Civic starts at €21,395 for the 1.4 litre SE petrol version, my test car with the optional Sat Nav and upgraded audio system (the model Honda will sell here by and large) retails at €22,670 and €24,445 for the entry level SE iDTEC 2.2 litre diesel option.