2016 Honda Civic Touring

Sorgente: First Drive: 2016 Honda Civic | Driving

COLLINGWOOD, Ont. – The outgoing Honda Civic, which was introduced in 2012 and reworked in 2013 because of the lacklustre response to its redesign, is being reinvented yet again. This time, it is a complete makeover that touches everything between the bumpers. As such, the 10th-generation sedan should serve to maintain the status quo and keep the Civic as Canada’s favourite car, as it has been for the past 17 years – and soon to be 18.

Stylistically, the new Civic adopts a much sharper look with detail in its curves. The face is bold with available LED headlights, the side profile is sleek, the tail is taut and it too earns LED lighting. Now if only the colour palette were as expressive — two whites, a couple of silvers, burgundy and black, along with a new blue are your options. Sadly, Canada does not get the racy red the U.S. enjoys.

The Civic is both larger and stronger than the outgoing model. The overall length rises 75 millimetres, while it is 126 millimetres wider and it now rides on a 2,700-millimetre wheelbase. The plus is the platform is also 25 per cent stiffer, in spite of being 31 kilograms lighter and larger overall.

Stepping inside the all-new Civic, the very first thing you'll notice is that Honda has finally done away with the two-tier dashboard.

Stepping inside the all-new Civic, the very first thing you’ll notice is that Honda has finally done away with the two-tier dashboard.

The Civic’s interior takes significant steps forward. First, the controversial two-tier instrumentation has gone away — thank you, Honda! The new look, which is primarily digital, is so much easier to comprehend. It also adds an aura of richness to the soft-touch-lined cabin.

The driver’s lot is also better than before. Sitting proudly atop the centre stack is a seven-inch screen that houses the audio and climate functions. It also embraces the notion of a “smart” car — Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have been integrated into the driver’s life in a remarkably friendly manner. Both platforms bring the smartphone into the car and blend two divergent technologies into one, which gives easy access to anything your phone can do, apps and all. If there is a cabin related complaint, it lies in the reflection in the back window as seen through the rear-view mirror; I found it distracting.

As for amenities, Honda builds with each step up the Civic ladder. The $15,990 DX is pretty basic by skipping air conditioning, although it does get a back-up camera. For $18,890, the LX earns the seven-inch screen and all of the gizmos, along with air conditioning, heated front seats, cruise control and 60/40-split-folding rear seats. The EX ($22,590) adds dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, smart key access with push button start and Honda’s clever LaneWatch camera, which puts the view from the right side of the car in the seven-inch screen.

The 2016 Honda Civic EX

The mid-range 2016 Honda Civic EX starts at $22,590, which gets you features like a power sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, smart key access and Honda’s nifty LaneWatch gadget.

Meanwhile, the EX-L ($24,990) brings a new engine, fog lights and 17-inch wheels, along with the Honda Sensing suite of safety features. The package counts a number of active safety gadgets as extensions, including a lane-keep assist system, which steers the car to keep it in the lane. The top-level $26,990 Touring brings everything including wireless phone charging, LED headlights, GPS navigation, power-adjustable front seats, heated rear seats and a sweet-sounding 450-watt audio system.

The 2016 Civic’s powertrains have been completely revised. It starts with a new 2.0-litre, which replaces the outgoing 1.8-litre four-cylinder, delivering 158 horsepower and 138 lb.-ft. of torque; it’s available with a six-speed manual or optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). With the latter, this combination took, according to my handheld stopwatch, 9.9 seconds to run from rest to 100 km/h; the claimed fuel economy is 7.8 L/100 km in the city and 5.8 on the highway – not bad from either perspective, and likely good enough for most shoppers.

The better news, however, is the rollout of a new 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, which makes a much more rewarding 174 horsepower and, more importantly, 162 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,800 rpm. Off the line, the turbocharged Civic pulls strongly and with little in the way of turbo lag. Once moving, it piles on the speed with spirit, running from rest to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds. This work ethic brings a surprisingly sporty feel to a four-door compact sedan. If there is a nit to pick, it means moving far up the trim level ladder to get this sweet mill. Bringing it down to the LX level would appeal to those who appreciate the Civic for what it is — a sporty, fun-to-drive compact car.

The Honda Civic's new 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

The Honda Civic’s new 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

The new turbo is married to a CVT sourced from the Accord to handle the low-end torque. Normally, I would launch into a rant about the vagaries of this transmission, but I came away pleasantly surprised. Yes, it does drone a little when flat-out acceleration is called upon, but it was civilized and workable on the drive. The lack of a manual mode or paddle shifters was disappointing, but it does bring stellar economy: 7.6 L/100 km in the city and 5.5 on the highway, and this is all in spite of being two seconds faster than the 2.0-litre engine. It also consumes regular gasoline.

And so, to the fun part of the exercise — the reworked architecture provides a better base of operations for the new suspension. The front struts now work with a multi-link rear suspension, a vastly improved steering set-up and better brakes. The lot came together with a precision that is rare in a sub-$30K car. There is, however, a noticeable difference between the EX and Touring models I drove. The EX tends to favour the ride side, although it still handles admirably for a compact sedan. The Touring model felt crisper and delivered better feedback across the board. For me, an LX with the turbocharged engine and the Touring’s suspension would be perfect.

Unlike the previous Civic, which was pure evolution, the 10th-generation car moves the bar upward in all key areas. It has more space, a richer cabin, sophisticated technologies and a better powertrain lineup. Throw in the nimble handling and you have a very entertaining ride. Down the road, coupe and five-door models will be added, along with Si and Type R versions. The Civic is finally poised to return to its fun-to-drive roots.

Honda finally has the goods to take the Civic back to its fun-to-drive roots.

Honda finally has the goods to take the Civic back to its fun-to-drive roots.