Honda Civic has evolved into a new and improved species
IT WAS a new one on us. The new Honda Civic is the result of "revolutionary evolution", we were told. Translated, it means "keeping the good points and improving the weak ones," which sums up what the ninth generation of this Focus/Golf rival is all about.
Designed in Japan for the European market, the result is a Civic we will all recognise. The face is now more aerodynamic, the stance is lower and overall the styling is sharper. The swept back headlights, dark grille and air intakes look strong and aggressive and are highlighted best in bright colours. Much of the new wind-cheating improvements which give good high-speed stability relate to the the bright red plastic rear spoiler which cuts across the back window. There have been criticisms of this feature for visibility reasons but Honda engineers make the point that it is now lower and the glass area is bigger. It may be annoying but there are no safety issues.
Inside, the cabin has been totally redesigned and has been likened to a pilot's cockpit with all controls and dials easy to reach and read, right down to the location of the gear lever to make changes "less challenging and to cut down on driver fatigue".
Driving at high speeds, the Honda is sure-footed and even on rutted roads, the new suspensions and a tweaked, more direct steering make for confident road-holding. The cabin is well-insulated with exterior noise cut to a minimum
The interior is spacious considering the compact exterior and flip-up/fold-down rear seat arrangements are an excellent feature. This allows for big items to be carried and no wonder they are dubbed "magic seats". Honda claims 100 litre more space than the best competitor -- 477 litres expanding to 1378 litres with seats folded. This is achieved as the petrol tank is located under the front seats.
The engine line-up starts with a 1.4 litre petrol unit which gives a decent performance with 100 bhp on tap and gets a Band B €156 road tax rating while the more energetic petrol heads will opt for the 1.8 litre 142 bhp option. The big seller will be the 2.2 litre 150 bhp power plant which gets a Band A rating with just 110g/km C02 output.
The new Civic, which comes as a five-door only model, will be in showrooms next month. Frank Kennedy, sales and marketing director with importers, Universal Honda, says he expects to sell 750 units with over 50 per cent of these with 1.4 litre petrol engine and the bulk of the remaining sales going to the 2.2 litre diesel option.
Prices start at €20,995 for the entry level 1.4 SE while prices for the 1.8 litre model start at €23,845, rising to €28,595 for the top spec with automatic transmission. The diesel versions range in price from €23,995 to €28,295.