Honda Civic – Paris front three quarter
After recently going on sale in the US, the all-new Honda Civic is here. The new five-door hatchback will go on sale in Europe in early 2017.
The official details came after months of teasers, concept cars and even eagle-eyed readers spotting US-spec cars out on the road. Now, after its debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, we have all you need to know. Honda claims that the all-new Civic is a significant step forward for the brand, with the new car benefitting from the largest single model development programme in the car’s history.
It’s possible that the new Civic could make it into the British Touring Car Championship, with Honda’s success in the sport seen as an important branding excercise by Honda’s head of cars in the UK, Phil Webb. He told us: “We always have an open mind and we’re in those discussions. The contract’s on a yearly basis, so you never know.”
New Turbo engines for the Honda Civic
At launch, the Ford Focus rival will be offered with a choice of two all-new turbocharged petrol engines, but no diesel initially. Honda predicts the best seller will be the 127bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo, which can be paired with either a six-speed manual or CVT automatic gearbox. A more powerful 180bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine will also be available with identical transmission options. Performance figures and fuel economy will be announced closer to the car’s on-sale date next year.
As the Civic will be sold across 70 global markets almost unchanged, Honda will initially focus on the two petrol engines. However, by the end of 2017 buyers will also be able to spec a heavily revised version of the current 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel. We expect it to offer improved fuel economy as well as a boost in performance thanks to the option of Honda’s efficient nine-speed auto ‘box.
Honda Civic – Paris rear
Speaking with Auto Express, Chief Operating Officer, Katsushi Inoue, admitted Honda is also considering adding a hybrid model to the range to compete with the Toyota Prius. He said: “After the [Volkswagen] emissions scandal, we have to think about it. We are big on hybrid in Japan and the US – we have that technology.”
Engineers are also claiming big advances in comfort, handling and refinement for the new Civic. According to project leader Mitsuru Kariya, the new car features ‘heavily revised suspension’ featuring a complex independent multilink setup at the rear, as well as four-stage adaptive damping on higher-grade models.
New Civic, new look and lightweight design
The all-new platform is 16kg lighter than before, while torsional stiffness has been improved by 52 per cent. That should help make the car more responsive and more engaging from behind the wheel. As for the Type R model, bosses say it has been engineered alongside the standard car from the outset for the first time but we don’t expect it to launch until next September. We saw a concept version of the Type R at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.
The new Civic is lower, longer and wider than any of its predecessors. Visually, it’s almost unchanged from the Civic Prototype shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year – even the dual exhausts have been carried over to the Sport-spec version you see here. Lesser trims will get a softer design with less aggressive bumpers. Style-wise, this Sport model is designed to act as a halfway house between entry-level cars and the forthcoming Type R.
Despite the lower roofline, Honda claims there is more room inside than before as the wheelbase has been stretched by 30mm. The repositioned fuel tank does mean Honda’s clever Magic Seats and flat rear floor have been sacrificed, but there’s a compact and innovative sliding and removable parcel shelf. With the rear seats in place Honda claims boot capacity of 478 litres, which is just one litre bigger than the outgoing car, but still significantly larger than the 380-litre boot on the VW Golf. A more spacious Civic Tourer estate model is at least 18 months away.
Honda Civic – Paris front
As well as the exterior styling, the interior has been totally overhauled, too. Quality has taken a big step up, while a new electronic parking brake on the centre console has allowed designers to incorporate a sliding armrest and deep central cubbyhole.
The conventional dials have been replaced by a TFT screen that can be customised to show everything from speed and fuel economy to sat-nav and media. Honda Connect now comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too, while model comes with Honda SENSING with collision mitigation systems such as emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition with intelligent speed assist. Honda is confident the new car will gain the full five-star rating when assessed by independent crash testers Euro NCAP in the coming months.
Honda Civic – full front
• Honda Civic Type-R: long term test
New Honda Civic on the road
As well as having a nose around the new Honda Civic, Auto Express was also granted a short passenger ride around the manufacturer’s test track at it’s production facility in Swindon.
Our car was fitted with the all-new three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo engine, driven by engineering project leader David McDonald. While we weren’t allowed to drive the car, it gave us a good impression of performance, ride and refinement.
Honda Civic – start/stop wedding
At idle, the tiny turbo engine is all but silent. Pull away gently and little changes, while harder acceleration offers almost four-cylinder levels of smoothness. It’s not harsh like some three-cylinder rivals, and it didn’t feel like it needed thrashing to extract decent performance.
Cruising between 40 and 50mph, the engine remained hushed, while the ride had a firm but not uncomfortable edge to it. Body control also appears to have been improved over the current generation car, too.
In terms of perceived quality, the new Civic appears to better the existing car in every area. The central touchscreen is better integrated and while the graphics aren’t enormously different, it’s slicker and easier to use. The bright dials looked great from the passenger seat, too, though we weren’t able to flick through the car’s different functions such as nav, phone, or media controls.
British-built Honda Civic: Swindon production confirmed
Honda has also confirmed that the 10th generation Civic will be manufactured for global markets at its UK manufacturing plant in Swindon. The Swindon plant is Honda’s flagship European manufacturing facility, and its confirmation as hub for building the Civic will allay some fears regarding Honda’s future investment plans in the UK post-Brexit.
Honda Europe’s President and Chief Operating Officer said: “Honda has made significant investments in this facility and this next step is an important endorsement of the skills and expertise of our workforce. We’re also setting out a clear and sustainable future role for HUM, broadening our export markets beyond Europe.”
Q&A with Mitsuru Kariya, project leader of new Civic
Mitsuru Kariya was project leader for the current Civic, and was well aware of the areas where the car needed to be improved.
Q: The decision to go to turbocharging is one of the biggest changes in the new Civic. Why did you go down that route?
A: “Early in the development process I tried the latest evolution of the 1.8-litre normally aspirated petrol engine – and I realised that it wouldn’t be good enough. We needed a stronger spread of torque, and that’s what we’ve tried to achieve, while still keeping the smooth delivery character of a normally aspirated engine.”
Q: How have you tackled that issue?
A: “We’ve used quite a small turbocharger, and it has an electronic wastegate to help us control boost. It’s a set-up designed to improve response.”
Q: Some customers will bemoan the lack of the ‘Magic Seats’ that made the previous car so practical. Did you consider keeping them?
A: “We couldn’t. We knew we wanted to lower the driver’s seat and once we did that, we were no longer able to have the fuel tank positioning that allowed the Magic Seats. We have tried to give practical touches to make up for the change, though; we think the wide boot opening, low loading lip and a tonneau cover that can be opened from the side are evidence of this.