Civic 1.5 VTEC Turbo Sport Plus
would have believed
that a grey-and-high-gloss-black
livery could endow a family hatch
with the double-take presence
of a supercar? Just take a look
at the new Civic from Honda and
see for yourself...
CALLED SONIC GREY PEARL, it's a fabulous colour and generated plenty
of flattering comments wherever we parked 'our' Civic. Its wider, longer coupe-esque
body with strongly defined flat-cut wheelarches, low nose bracketed by oversized
five-sided air intakes, glossy black sports bodykit and, at the tail, double
tailgate spoilers and central twin-pipe exhaust, blended with a 'well planted'
deportment, all helped of course, combining to give it a seriously 'sporty'
Make no mistake, this is no longer the Civic that has for a long time now been
everyman's family five-door hatch this all-new (and it really is) tenth
generation version indisputably moves the Civic onwards and upwards.
this time of impending EU meltdown it's also comforting to know that the Civic
is made here in the UK, at Honda's Swindon manufacturing facility. So if the
Bullies of Brussels want to throw all their toys out of the pram, we Brits won't
be going short of first-rate cars to drive.
choices will appeal to both petrol and diesel camps, with a choice of two turboed
unleaded drinkers and one oil-burner: for the petrolheads there's a 127bhp 1.0-litre
three-cylinder or a 180bhp 1.5-litre four-pot, while diesel fans will be pleased
to see a 118bhp 1.6-litre in the engine bay.
this is no longer the Civic
that has for a long time
now been everymans
family five-door hatch
tenth generation version
the Civic onwards
As impressive as today's three-cylinder units undeniably are, the lure of 179bhp
along with an official combined consumption figure of 48.7mpg running with a
six-speed manual gearbox (46.3 with the auto) makes the 1.5 a no-brainer, especially
as that brings with it a 137mph top speed and off-the-blocks acceleration to
62mph in 8.3 seconds.
For the record, if you want to better our week's test average of 46.4mpg then
you could try pressing the Econ mode button and leaving the engine stop-start
switched on, and taking note of the fuel efficiency status strip built into
the upper edge of the rev-counter housing. Do so and you won't notice any drop-off
in driveability but you may notch up a few more miles per gallon. Us? Well we
just like to have fun…
As we've mentioned engines we might as well talk about the new 1.5-litre turbo
unit it's revvy but tempered by a well modulated delivery that makes
it eager from pull-away, serving up an energetic turn of pace in the mid-range
where most real-world driving gets done. That said, it's a Honda so will go
on until reined-in by the limiter.
On paper the 0-62mph dash is down as 8.3 seconds but in real-life the 177lb
ft of torque on tap makes it feel a good half a second quicker. Keen drivers,
especially those with family chores, certainly won't feel they're missing out
by doing their 'civic' duties. On long trips all aboard will appreciate its
ability to cruise tirelessly and serenely (actually, it's very quiet inside
whatever your speed).
getting into the whole driveability and dynamics thing, a quick look inside
the cabin will set the scene. Bigger, they say, is better this new Civic
certainly bears that out. Trim materials feel more expensive to the touch and
fit and finish definitely earns an 'upscale' tick. Plus, fitted into the generous
cabin space are some shapely seats. And,
enhanced by effective but not 'pushy' bolstering, we're talking the kind of
shapely that sees you arriving at the end of a long trip as fresh as when you
first set out.
no skimping on the three-stage heated seats either, which warm you from under
the thigh all the way to mid-back. Both also provide powered lumbar adjustment
that along with height adjustable seatbelts and generous headroom ensure that
both the driver and front passenger will indeed be sitting pretty.
lure of 179bhp
along with an official
figure of 48.7mpg
makes the 1.5
a no-brainer especially
as that brings with it
a 137mph top speed and
acceleration to 62mph in
The new Civic's cabin is genuinely welcoming, blending eye-pleasing architecture
with a stylish mix of finishes including carbon-fibre-effect dash and door inserts,
smart black fabric upholstery with contrasting slim, diagonally-striped central
strips and subtle contrast stitching. Satin and gloss black and gunmetal silver
highlights are used tastefully on the multifunction steering wheel, which also
has a great-to-grip leather rim with a palm-friendly profile.
The instrumentation is equally likeable with a brilliantly clear 'dial' set
the digitally generated (on a colour TFT screen) central rev-counter
features a large white-on-black speed readout within its arching scale. Below
the digital speed is a strip of driving data covering audio, apps, turbo boost,
compass, speed limit, rear seatbelts, oil level/change, music, smartphone, range,
mpg, etc). And so there can be no mistakes, the posted speed limit is shown
not only in the top left-hand corner of the instrument panel but also on the
delightfully crisp mapping on the infotainment screen above the centre stack.
Added to that, all the switchgear is in its rightful place; the Civic's information
interface display is not only refreshingly straightforward, but the driving
data is easy to take in night and day. All dashboards should be as foolproof
Drivers will also appreciate being able to press the 'climate' button for an
instant menu jump to the touchscreen for fingertip adjustment of the 2Zone climate
control system; or they can do it manually using the traditional knurled knobs
and switches set immediately below the 7-inch infotainment display, all in the
driver's eye-line to make them safe to use when driving.
the driver's seat visibility is first rate: one can see the front wing tops
and bonnet, making the Civic very easy to place on the go. And, with keyless
locking and starting, getting in and getting away is equally simple: thumb the
glowing red Engine Start button on the right-hand fascia, select a gear and
drive smoothly through the no-hassle electric parking brake (there's also an
auto-hold function that's handy in stop-start traffic).
else the clean-changing manual gearbox's lever is short and perfectly
to hand, and its spatial relationship to the steering wheel and alloy pedal
set can't fail to remind you of Honda's F1 credentials; as does the engine's
8,000rpm redline. Also, just aft of the gearlever is the button for the adaptive
damping trust us, you'll enjoy getting acquainted with that too!
gearboxs lever is short
and perfectly to hand,
and the spatial
relationship of it to the
steering wheel and alloy
pedal set cant fail to
remind you of Hondas
as does the engines
Making the cabin an even more satisfying place to spend time is a powered tilt-and-slide
sunroof with blackout mesh blind along with all the usual top-end equipment
such as voice control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, privacy glass, auto lights
and wipes, electric windows, heated powerfolding door mirrors, rear parking
camera, front annd rear parking sensors, infotainment system with SatNav by
Garmin, a high-powered 11-speaker audio system, DAB tuner, Bluetooth, Apple
CarPlay, Android Auto, Aha app, Internet browsing, wireless smartphone charging,
and hands-free phone operation.
'In-flight' storage is accommodating in the extreme with really big door pockets
and between the front seats a long, deep bin large enough for a cat to happily
sleep in (ours actually did, admittedly when we were parked in the drive!);
a sliding cloth-covered armrest masks it when necessary, plus there are repositionable
dual-use cupholders and a well-thought-out 'lower deck' to the central console
offering additional storage accessible by both the driver and front passenger
with 12v power, HDMI and USB ports.
The Civic also comes equipped with Honda's SENSING suite of advanced safety
features that make full use of camera and radar technology, such as Collision
Mitigation Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning, Highbeam
Support, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Cut-in Prediction, Intelligent
Speed Limiter, Lane Departure Warning with Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keeping
Assist, and Traffic Sign Recognition. There's also Blind Spot Information and
Cross Traffic Monitor.
benefits of the new Civic's longer wheelbase are felt most in the back cabin
where there's plenty of room for feet and legs (and some pre-nap stretching)
as well as a fist of headroom. Well-positioned outer armrests and a nicely padded
drop-down centre armrest (with built in cupholders) along with relaxing backrest
angles and very comfy seats make it easy for those travelling in the back to
make en-route excursions to the Land of Nod.
carrying five is not the norm, the Civic will oblige and three side-by-side
is doable with no complaints likely to be heard from the one in the middle.
Accommodating pockets on the front seatbacks and genuine bottle-holding door
pockets help make life in the back that little bit more civilised.
there's some worthy new engineering under the Civic's skin: principally a significantly
more torsionally rigid platform, a 10mm-lower centre of gravity, widened axle
tracks, and a new independent rear suspension set-up that together promise more
of the Civic come primed
to tango, their footwork
adaptive dampers at each
corner that provide
quick-acting and single-
minded body control,
spearing corners and
flowing through Esses
on fast A and B
Sport Plus versions of the Civic come primed to tango, their footwork boosted
by adaptive dampers at each corner that provide quick-acting and single-minded
body control, particularly when spearing corners and flowing through Esses on
fast A and B roads.
When you then factor in well-judged steering and reassuring grip, plus the Civic's
ability to carry speed and remain composed when pressing on (plus fine brakes
to mediate fluently between 'fast' and 'slow'), you have a sound recipe for
driver satisfaction notably so when driving solo!
But the handling doesn't steal the limelight because the Civic rides as well
as it parties, with excellent 'bump-thump' absorption at the heart of its fluent
ride. Again, thank those adaptive dampers. Press the button behind the gearlever
to activate them and you'll feel the ride and the composure step-up; but not
at the expense of the suspension shrugging off larger imperfections beneath
the 235/45 Michelins; even mid-bend, the Civic won't easily be deflected from
your chosen line.
If occasional cargo space is important to you then go for the range-topping
Prestige trim as then you'll get a 478-litre boot with the rear seats in use
and an 828-litre loadbay with them folded down. Sport and Sport Plus models
come with a few litres less but a still-practical 420 and 770 litres.
How so? Believe it or not, it's down to those good-looking central twin exhaust
pipes. Whatever, both offer a good wide and deep boot and a large tailgate opening
to load through along with a versatile and seamless flat floor in loadbay mode.
A novel (and effective) touch is the mini-cassette luggage blind that pulls
across from one side of the boot to the other, and which can be removed and
stored in a jiffy. And good to see an effective rear wash/wipe this is
the UK after all.
Not that long ago there was no such thing as a car that was good for, and good
at, everything. Today, the refined, thoroughly-equipped and economical Civic
hatchback pulls off that tricky trick, mixing and matching people and cargo
whilst also satisfying keen drivers with family duties. And it still manages
to turn heads! ~ MotorBar
Honda Civic 1.5 VTEC Turbo Sport Plus
Maximum speed: 137mph | 0-62mph: 8.3 seconds | Test Average: 46.4mpg
Power: 179bhp | Torque: 177lb ft | CO2: 133g/km