New 2012 Honda Civic keeps the legend alive

Road Tested by Hugh Maguire

Road Tested by Hugh Maguire

The 9th generation of the legendary Honda Civic has arrived on our shores and we are actually the first market to launch the car. Honda chose the roads of county Cavan as the place for us motoring journalists to test the new Civic and a good test it proved to be as many of the changes to the new Civic are in the area of ride and handling.

First to arrive is the ES 2.2 litre diesel to be followed later this month with the 1.4 litre and 1.8 litre petrol engine options. The range will be completed in March when all grade levels will be available. The new Civic is available as a five-door hatchback and when the range is complete there will be 11 models from which to choose.

The new car really represents in styling terms 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 actually longer, wider and lower than the outgoing model. Increased efficiencies in engineering and aerodynamics also mean the new Civic is more frugal and emits lower emissions. The 1.4 litre petrol will probably prove the most popular choice but the 2.2 litre diesel for me is the one to go for. Remember it falls into the lowest band A at €160 for tax due to its super low emissions, so you get the benefit of the power without the cost! Honda are working on a 1.6 litre diesel engine but we may not see that herein some Honda models until next year.

I drove both the 2.2 iDTEC and 1.4 petrol at the Irish Press launch in Cavan and it is immediately apparent when you drive both cars that Honda have made great 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.

The quality of the new interior is also a step forward, with better soft feel plastics and cabin furnishings that would not be out of place in a car costing much more.

As always with a Honda the specification is very good but the new Civic once again takes a lead with most models for example getting a rear reversing camera as standard.

Obviously there are a whole host of safety features and other standard goodies which now put the new Civic close to the top of the league in its class.

Overall then my initial 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!

So now to the all important cost?

Prices for the new Civic starts at €21,395 for the 1.4 litre SE petrol version and €24,445 for the entry level SE iDTEC 2.2 litre diesel option.