We’ve covered the new Civic pretty thoroughly at behindthewheel.com.au, so I’d like to concentrate on how the sedan drives, and the tech inclusions in this review.
First, the tech.
For a decade, Honda had fallen behind expectation. They were recovering from the GFC when the tsunami in Japan, and floods in Thailand, all but crippled production and development.
The combination of these separate events came together in knockout punches that could easily have pushed the car maker to the brink. Instead, Honda pushed on.
The current models bristle with tech which is simple to use, and does what it says on the box.
All the different variants of the new Honda Civic share the same sophisticated suspension and steering system.
Multi-link at the rear and Macpherson struts up front teamed with Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering to provide a sharp drive, and smooth ride.
The upper-spec version of the new Civic also have the same 1.5 litre turbo-petrol engine. Lag is all but eliminated by decreasing the turbine blades to 9, down from 11.
Engines have always been a Honda strength, and although late to the turbo party, the 1.5L makes up for its lack of power by being incredibly willing and able.
127kW/220Nm sits comfortably where a day-to-day transport option should be.
The CVT is ok, but I’ll always prefer a traditional automatic, or even better, a manual. There are paddle shifters to simulate the gear ratios you’d find in other transmissions.
Many new models are moving towards CVT for its lightweight solution to economy VS performance.
As you begin to move, the transmission transitions smoothly through a band rather than selecting set ratios, unless pushed hard. When pushed, it reverts to fixed ratios and steps up through simulated “gears”.
This prevents the engine from over-revving as older CVT transmissions tend to do. They had an engine creaming for mercy by the time you reached the other side of an intersection after stopping at lights.
It does the job well, and most drivers won’t be aware that it is anything other than a run-of-the-mill auto.
This is another area where Honda needed to focus attention. Gone is the awful HDMI connection required for the older generation units. It was a shocker to use, and had an objectionable personality.
Top Tip: Buy a cable just for the car. Plug it in, and leave it there, and glue it in place if you have light-fingered friends!
I say this for all cars, but in Civic it is more out of necessity than convenience. The USB socket is hard to get to. Many brands put their USB connections in hard to reach places, but this one is a corker.
Unless you’re a member of Circ Du Soleil’s contortion acts, you’ll have to lean in from outside the open door to reach behind, and beneath the console.
Thread the cable up through a small retainer where you can then connect you phone.
The centre console contains the little-used “econ” button.
The Honda Civic is economical enough without having the performance-robbing “econ” programme activated.
The gear lever and electric brake switch, as well as a Brake Hold button complete the lineup. Brake hold allows you to come to a stop, then take your brake off the peddle until you are ready to get going again.
When you accelerate, the brakes release. It works like Hill Hold, but on level surfaces. The VTi-LX gets heated leather seats, and the switches sit in the centre stack below the climate control knobs.
The dual zone climate control and a sync button which is a big plus. The driver can hit the sync when alone, to save having to fettle 2 controls every time he wants a temperature adjustment.
There is nothing more annoying than having to do this through a menu.
All models get the same 7” touch screen infotainment system. The VTI-LX gains a punchy 452watt, 10 speaker upgrade. The sound is excellent.
I love the digital radio too. The clarity and depth of sound is high-end. Deep and rich lows mingle with crystal clear mids and highs to give a faithful reproduction of your favourite tunes.
The equalizer is easy to find in the audio menu.
Settings and other options are easily accessed in a menu system that doesn’t require a PHD to navigate.
Sat-nav is standard, but you’ll probably find it easier to use maps via CarPlay.
Remember, Siri only works when your phone is in range. The rest of the CarPlay features work regardless.
Plugging you phone in brings up some of the features on the car’s central screen. You can perform most functions by pressing virtual buttons, but some can only be done by voice. And, here is where it becomes a safety plus.
You cannot access messages via the screen. Instead, the system reads the messages out to you. You reply by voice too. This just may well save lives.
As with all Iphone with Siri, you can use “Hey Siri” without touching any kind of control. It too, will allow you to access music, maps, and messages.
As Siri becomes more useful, you’ll be able to ask it for help.
These updates will occur with IOS developments, and is an exciting insight as to where future cabin direction is going.
Seats and trim are high quality…except for the gear knob which feels a bit flimsy. Soft plastic, and simulated stitching give the impression that the cabin is entirely trimmed in leather.
The driver’s readout’s feature a combination of LCD screens and physical dials.
Honda could have scored bigger here by having the virtual dash displaying all driver information. A full width screen can be reconfigured to show all manner of goodies.
It looks good and feels even better.
The steering wheel has a few innovative features. I particularly like the touch button for the volume controls. It doubles as a conventional up/down switch. You can press it if you don’t fancy sliding your finger up and down.
Smart cruise control buttons on the right side of the wheel are clearly labelled. More about that later.
The seating in comfortable, and although there is plenty of support, you move around a little with spirited cornering. No doubt the Type-R will sort all that out.
Honda Sensing is the name given to a suite of electronic gadgets that watch over you to keep you safe.
Lane Keeping has several modes, most of them active. The system keeps you in the middle of the lane by applying gent force to the steering wheel.
There are also audible warnings when you begin to drift.
The system will also try to stop you from drifting off the road on a long trip. Honda stresses these driver aids should never take the place of good practices. In other words, if you’re tired, don’t drive. Don’t use you’re mobile either.
Superb, there is no other word for it.
You feel like you’re in a high-end luxury brand, and if you close your eyes, you are. The one thing that has really come ahead in leaps and bounds is suspension and handling.
Big bumps manage only moderate intrusion in the peace and tranquility of the travelers. You can throw Civic around in a sportier way than you might expect.
The segment is chock-full of offerings, and competition is stiff. Buyers demand value, but they are canny, and will shop around with just a few hundred dollars closing the deal.
This new-gen Honda Civic impresses with its value, design, comfort, and handling.
Civic looks long and low, and slightly mean and nasty. What a shame we won’t be seeing a Type-R sedan.
Overall though, it pleases me to declare that Honda is back.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2017 Honda Civic Sedan VTi-LX
- Engine: 1.5L turbo petrol producing 127kW and 220Nm
- Transmission: Constantly Variable Transmission
- Warranty: Five-years
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Thailand
- Price: from $33,590