First Drive : Revised 2015 Civic & CR-V

Sam Mace & Mike Humble:

New revised Civic features a smart new nose, tweaked chassis and some refreshment to the interior. Prices reduced too.
New revised Civic features a smart new nose, tweaked chassis and some refreshment to the interior. Prices have been reduced too.

Revised Civic & Tourer:

Honda have introduced a raft of improvements to the Civic for 2015. Most obvious is the redesigned front end, with a mesh grill and more sharply angled headlights, adding more visual character. The piano black spoiler and nicely detailed rear bumper finishes off the look. Also new for 2015 is the Civic Sport. Car spotters will be able to pick it out by a colour coded spoiler and black alloys, which are unique to the Sport.

A key feature of the updated Civic is City Brake, which is standard across the Civic range. It works by a controlled self-application of the footbrake when it thinks you’re too close to an object in front, at speeds as high as 25 mph. We’ve tried it out in controlled conditions – it works well. Not only could it save you from having a collision, but it means the Civic has dropped two insurance groups because of this new feature.

Honda have also reduced the list price and now offer some very tempting PCP deals as well. There’s more changes inside, where the Civic has been given a minor revamp. Most importantly, the outgoing car’s infotainment system that was frustratingly complicated has been replaced by a much more user friendly system. From the SE-Plus upwards, the Civic comes with an iPad style infotainment system. The entry level S gets a more conventional interface.

Changes have also taken place under the skin, with Honda paying particular attention to the suspension system. Ride quality has been improved, and the handing has become even better part thanks to a new design of suspension bush. The Civic is a real go-cart around the bends: quick, pin sharp steering and limpet-esque grip work together to make it a genuinely fun car to drive.

The 1.6 I-DTEC engine is a brilliant plant. CR-V model now benefits from a two stage turbo with 160bhp and the same 350 Nm of torque of the outgoing larger, heavier 2.2 unit.
The 1.6 i-DTEC engine is a brilliant plant. CR-V model now benefits from a two stage turbo with 160Ps and the same gutsy 350 Nm of torque of the outgoing larger, heavier 2.2 unit.

The most impressive feature of the Civic however is still that fabulous 1.6 diesel. It might not sound very exciting on paper, but trust us, in the real world it really is. It is a car which never seems to run out of puff, nor does it ever seem to be in the wrong gear. The way it gathers pace in top at motorway speeds truly has you thinking it could be a 2.0 – and it’s reassuringly refined.

The new Civic has picked up where the previous model left off. There really is very little to dissuade anyone from buying one. If we’re being picky, some contact points such as the rear door handles could do with being a little more robust feeling and some of the glossy black finishes on the car could end up looking very grubby and sad quite quickly. Those minor gripes aside, this is a great car made even better. Prices start from £15,975.

Revised CR-V:

CR-V gains a 160bhp version of the superb 1.6 diesel, a 9 speed auto option, new grille, new bumpers and some suspension improvements. Superb ride and tidy handling. Interior could do with one or two uplifts though but a lovely thing to drive nonetheless.
CR-V gains a 160Ps version of the superb 1.6 diesel, a 9 speed auto option, new grille, new bumpers and some suspension improvements making for a superb ride with tidy handling. Interior could do with one or two uplifts though but a lovely thing to drive nonetheless.

Honda’s strong selling SUV has also been finessed for 2015. These newer models are easily identified by their new chrome grill and slightly wider front bumper. The effect is a more imposing and purposeful looking car. Its a green machine as well offering over 55mpg and just 134G/Km in Co2. Like the Civic, the CR-V can be had with a 1.6 litre diesel engine as well. Don’t let the small capacity put you off, though. Unlike the Civic’s diesel, the CR-V’s has a two stage turbo that ups the power to 160Ps. The result is a much larger car which feels just as nippy as its smaller brother.

It pulls well in every gear, even the 9 speed automatic has a useful amount of verve in top gear – the 350Nm of torque explains that. Automatics come with 9 speeds plus a F1 style paddle gearshift to play with. It works well and is just as smooth as when you leave the car alone to change up and down by itself. Performance wise, the new auto gearbox is not far off the manual in terms of performance. Honda were keen to tell us the new auto gearbox weighs 30% less with a large reduction of internal friction and the added bonus no loss of longevity they claim.

Despite its considerable bulk, the CR-V is very easy to drive. The clutch is light and the gear change has a positive, clean feel. Combine this with the light, precise steering and you have a car which anyone can jump in and drive without feeling intimidated. The tradeoff is the steering being devoid of any kind of feel – and we also felt that the steering wheel is too thin, spindly and cheap looking for an otherwise substantial and chunky car.

Honda have seen fit to beef up the suspension linkages and wishbones in a more thorough improvement package as per the Civic. Whatever the engineers have done, it’s made no difference to the ride comfort as the CR-V still rides amazingly well and corners tidier than a barrack dormitory before kit inspection.

Interior wise, the CR-V remains similar to the outgoing model but top of the range models feature a far better user friendly audio / sat nav unit as per the high line Civic and Tourer. It’s still of very high quality that bristles with nice practical touches but the climate controls still look a bit last decade and the interior desperately needs a dash of colour. In summary, the CR-V is a practical, well made, great performing SUV which is good to drive and look at. Prices start at £22,345. To us, that sounds like a bit of a bargain.

The Humble Opinion:

I have said it before but will say it again, the 1.6 Honda diesel engine is one of the best kept secrets of the motor trade. Best of all, its British made in Swindon.

The new interior nips and tucks go some way to addressing the sombre mono-tone colour schemes thanks to a splash of chrome and neat garnish veneer between the glovebox and the upper dashboard.

 The CR-V also remains a cracking drive, especially with the new 9 speed auto and extra power. Lets hope Honda gets the marketing machine wound up as they are both great cars that have got that little bit better – and more affordable too!

2015 is a big year for Honda in the UK as they enter 30 years since the opening of the Swindon plant, the up coming launch of the Civic Type R and the re-introduction of the NSX. Lots to look forward to and lots to celebrate in a very important year for Honda UK Manufacturing.

We will be thoroughly testing the new Civic Sport Diesel next month. Its a new model with smart and sporty looks but with a low C02 and insurance criteria – will it be a case of having your cake and eating it?

Thanks are due to Honda Manufacturing UK for the invite to Stanton House and the Swindon assembly plant.


One thought on “First Drive : Revised 2015 Civic & CR-V

  1. Agree with your comments re: Honda’s marketing. The Civic and CRV are good cars but are woefully undermarketed. The 4th gen CRV is a massive success in the USA and competes against the same cars we have on this side of the pond (Kuga/Escape, RAV4, CX5 etc) but Honda seems happy just to be a bit part player in the UK. Honda barely bothers with TV advertising these days, and the adverts I see on the internet and in the press are dreary and unmemorable. It seems a long time since the excellent “Cog” TV ads for the 7th-gen Accord.

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