2012 Honda Civic Hybrid Review

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid Review

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid Road Test and Review…

This has been the third week in a row that I have had a new Honda Civic to check out and have had a go in all three variants – the Sport, VTi-L and now the hybrid.

Essentially the main differences between the Sport and the VTi-L are –

  • Sport has a 2.0 litre petrol engine, leather interior and sunroof and costs from $27,990.
  • VTi-L comes with a 1.8 litre petrol engine and costs from $20,990.

The 2012 Honda Civic hybrid is essentially identical to the VTi-L and costs from $35,990.

So that’s a very substantial $15,000 price difference.

Quite frankly as much as I like Honda products I can’t quite get my mind around how there can be such a big price difference between the hybrid and the VTi-L.

Sure the hybrid version features some terrific engine and battery technology but here in Australia there are no across the board tax incentives or government schemes to assist people buying a hybrid car.

So, I think Honda is going to be hard pressed to sell the hybrid Honda Civic in big numbers here.

Let’s face the facts, in most cases if you’re considering a hybrid it’s because you want to cut your fuel bill right?

Well let’s have a quick look at the quoted fuel consumption figures between the VTi-L (which is more fuel efficient than the Sport) and the hybrid.

The 1.8 litre VTi-L uses a combined 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres.

The claimed combined fuel consumption for the hybrid is 4.4 litres per 100.

So doing a little maths there’s a 2.3 litre per 100 difference between the two variants.

If you multiply 2.3 by roughly the average price of unleaded fuel at the moment of $1.40 per litre you will see that the VTi-L will cost you just an extra $3.22 to travel every 100 kilometres.

So unless you’re doing a large number of kilometres each year it will be hard to justify spending the additional $15,000.

Remember as well that financing a $36,000 car will also incur more interest than a $20,990 car if both are paid-off over the same period.

Another interesting point is that I couldn’t get near the claimed fuel consumption figures in the Honda Civic hybrid.

I decided to take a 500 kilometre road trip from Sydney to Canberra and back on one of the nation’s best divided highways – the Hume Highway/F5.

Travelling in cool conditions with no passengers, no additional weight and with the cruise control set at 110 km/h the best I could get was 5.4 litres per 100 and that was in “normal” mode rather than “eco” mode which returned a best of 5.5 litres per 100.

The claimed extra urban consumption for the hybrid Civic is 4.1 litres per 100, quite a substantial difference.

Just on the “eco” mode when utilizing the cruise control the vehicle struggled to maintain 110km/h on hills of basically any gradient, often the vehicle will drop back 5 or more kilometres before the transmission drops down a notch.

Being almost exactly the same as the VTi-L inside and out if you’re keen to find out more about the creature comforts and the ride and handling etc. you can check all that out here.

Some of the noticeable differences however between the two include a much firmer and more sensitive brake pedal, I suspect most likely this is due to the controls for the engine stop/start system.

Speaking of the stop/start system – it’s pretty good but I’m not overly keen on having the engine actually turn off before the car comes to a full stop as the hybrid does.

Just further on the two driving modes – around town in “eco” the acceleration is just about as flat as the proverbial pancake!

In “normal mode” the hybrid Civic has much better get up and go but remember the acceleration is hampered by only having 82 kilowatts at your disposal which is 22 kilowatts less than the VTi-L.

One aspect that was better in the hybrid version is that the in-dash info screen gives you comprehensive and interesting info on what the hybrid system is doing as you drive along (i.e. if the batteries are charging, or if you are using a mix of petrol and electrical energy).

So summing it up, only buy a hybrid if you’re going to do the kilometres to make it worthwhile.

Secondly yes look at the Honda because despite it not being perfect overall it is actually a pretty good package.

NUTS and BOLTS - 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid

Engine: 1.5 litre petrol/hybrid developing 82kW and 172Nm

Transmission: 5-speed CVT auto

Safety: Five star

Warranty: 3yrs/100,000kms

Origin: Japan

Price: $35,990

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