Time Well Spent : New Honda Civic 1.6i-DTEC Sport – 9/10

Mike Humble:

The new Civic Sport - New model with some useful revisions have taken a cracking car and made it subtly better.
The new Civic Sport I-DTEC – A new model with some useful revisions have turned a talented alternative into a great car with some class leading stats in terms of space and safety.

Readers of the site will probably be aware that AUTOBRITANNIA.NET are big fans of the Honda Civic range. Not at all to do with the fact that it blends vivid styling with friendly technology but purely on the grounds of it being a rather belting drivers car. It offers an antidote from the street furniture such as an Astra, Focus or VW Golf while giving the user an almost guaranteed level of satisfaction and reliability – and these are proven facts. We had the chance to briefly sample the new revised Civic and witness them being built a few weeks back at the impressive Swindon assembly plant – we left quite impressed despite the short drive on the day.

Well Honda loaned us a totally new model – the Diesel Sport to get a more up close and personal test and even thought the revisions and improvements are subtle to the eye, they are effective at keeping the Civic on top of its game while being better value than the out-going model. Visual changes amount to a new design of front and rear bumper, new headlamps with improved DRL lighting, new grille with a slightly more aggressive mesh effect, new rear bumper, a vastly improved “user friendly” infotainment package on the plusher models.

New spoiler and rear bumper - with the latter having a racy bottom splitter. Its improved the rear aspect considerably and with those glossy back rims, one or two bystanders asked if it was actually a new Type-R... if only!
New spoiler and rear bumper – with the latter having a racy bottom splitter. Its improved the rear aspect considerably and with those glossy back rims, one or two bystanders asked if it was actually a new Type-R… if only!

One or two niggles still remain. I loath the seat recline mechanism action which makes minor backrest adjustments on the move almost impossible – why cant we have a nice wheel? The instruments reflect on pitch black roads into the screen and side windows – but at least with this issue you can dim down the illumination. Also, the bonnet and fuel pull tabs still reside right down to the side of the throttle pedal – but Honda have seen fit to now add white lettering to help you spot them on these latest cars. Rear visibility is not the best either though the reverse camera and parking sensor takes out some of the sting when parking in tight or dark areas.

But… was is impressive is the across the board standard fitment of “CiTy-Brake” which is a collision avoidance system that works via radar in low speed driving situations. Should the driver fail to notice a stationary car or obstacle in front, the car senses it and brakes well within safe limits to a complete stop with no input from the driver. Hopefully its a system that you will never have to experience, but we have and can confirm it works… very well in fact.

Interior revisions amount to a garnish rail above the glovebox, chromed interior door handles and a brand new Infotainment system with Wi-Fi connectivity, DAB and all the usual abbreviations. It works 200% better than the dreadful system in the previous Civic and its basically a tablet in the dashboard. Heaps of space and comfy seats that grip and support well. NOTE TO HONDA - please get rid of the seat reclining lever and change to a wheel.
Interior revisions amount to a garnish rail above the glovebox, chromed interior door handles and a brand new Infotainment system with Wi-Fi connectivity, DAB and all the usual abbreviations. It works 200% better than the dreadful system in the previous Civic and its basically a tablet in the dashboard. Heaps of space and comfy seats that grip and support well. NOTE TO HONDA – please get rid of the seat reclining lever and change to a wheel.

The suspension has been revised with new front settings and bushings that turn an already nimble chassis into one that really brings a smile to your face. Regarding ride comfort, the Civic remains unharmed despite the revisions – a little on the firm side at low speed but forgiving and smooth once up to speed. Its excellent and quick steering remains untouched, the car really is a jolly old thing to chuck around and fool about with should you be in the mood for it. Low speed ride is slightly joggly but totally in fitting with cars sporting cache.

As far as the inside matters, current Civic owners will find it most familiar. You still have the (slightly sombre) dark trim and flight deck of the USS Enterprise but the new mid dash garnish rail and chromed door handles go some way to lifting the outgoing models feeling of being a little drab in terms of texture or colour. But by far the most impressive interior upgrade is the new audio – sat nav unit which has ousted the previous unfathomable to comprehend item.

The UK built 1.6 i-DTEC is a gem of an engine. It flies like a bird, pulls like a train and only gets vocal if you really wring its neck. Super economical too with 60+ mpg without even trying. Lovely short and slick gearchange from the manual 6 speeder.
The UK built 1.6 i-DTEC is a gem of an engine. It flies like a bird, pulls like a train and only gets vocal if you really wring its neck. Super economical too with 60+ mpg without even trying. Lovely short and slick gearchange from the manual 6 speeder.

Like a tablet, it features a swipe and tap screen with colourful symbols and fonts on the screen. Its much more user friendly, looks good and in my view has one of the best in-dash Sat-Nav units experienced in a mass produced car. The head unit even features Wi-Fi connectivity and although it sounds complicated its actually fairly simple to work – well done Honda… the outgoing top of the range infotainment unit was that fiddly – it could turn a man to drink!

So there we have it, the Civic Sport is an all new trim level which sits right in the middle of a range which is cheaper than the previous Civic range. If you like your car to be bristling with technology yet be as simple to use as a knife and fork… and able to see beyond the styling issue – the new Civic is a cracking car that’s just got a whole lot better – and a little more affordable too!

New nose and lamps looks cool with slight aggression. A great car in almost every area that's better value thanks to the new model being cheaper across the range.
New nose and lamps look cool with slight hint on visual aggression – I love those DRL units too. A great car in almost every area that’s better value thanks to the new model being cheaper across the range.

AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 9/10

THE HUMBLE OPINION

Everything a keen driver or family person could wish for in a uniquely styled package. The more affordable Civic may not have a mind blowing array of revisions compared to others, but it didn’t really need it. The 1.6 UK built diesel is a brilliant engine that’s quick, quiet and super thrifty. Add that to a brilliant chassis and a slick gearshift and you’ll find the new Civic an absolute joy the punt around in.

Class leading space and an excellent build quality all help to offer the five door buyer something a little different in todays cut throat motor pool. I would have liked a bit more colour inside the cabin – its still a bit dark and gloomy to some tastes, but its well equipped, comfy and shockingly good at motorway / high speed cruising – all thanks to that cracking engine which is amazingly thrifty.

There are one or two reservations. The underseal application to the lower edge of the sills has a distinct rough edge that almost makes it look like a crash repair done in haste. The positioning of the bonnet and fuel filler levers are both awkward but at least Honda have added a white symbol to each lever. The centre armrest up front needs to follow V.A.G by being adjustable – its too low to rest upon without listing to one side.

There is of course that opinionated view of the styling and the brand perception of being a bit twee. Honda claim to be addressing the latter – which is good news as the Civic feels hi-tech and youthful with its Go-Kart handling. As a true drivers car, there is little to really poke the Civic for, okay… the brand image is a bit twee and the seat reclining mechanism is awkward but the former Honda are working on and the latter is small fry in the grand scheme of things.

To conclude, the revised Civic is an antidote to the major players in its class – but its NOT an also-ran… tis a damn fine showcase of tech, spec and British manufacturing. Class leading space and class leading safety features over the whole range, great dealers and a set in stone reputation for reliability make this revised UK built Honda Civic a remarkable package – I urge you to try one for size in 1.6 diesel format.

Should you buy or if not why: Certainly

Model Tested: Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC Sport

Produced by: Honda UK Manufacturing Ltd Swindon

Price: £21,430 (£22,555 as tested including options)

Fuel Economy: 76.5mpg* (64mpg on test)

Co2 / VED: 98G/km – Tax Band A

THE HIGHS: Utterly superb chassis – Well equipped – Excellent class leading space & safety – Good performance – Good Economy – Clever interior – Different exterior – Lovely feeling of robust build quality – Motorway cruising is top notch.

THE LOWS: Awkward siting of bonnet / fuel levers – Still too dark and gloomy inside – Some plastics inside are disappointing and hard to the touch – Exterior styling seems to be the epitome of Marmite – Brand image may be a little twee for hard core “drivers” – Night time reflections of dashboard dials – Still uses that awful lever seat recline.

For technical lowdown see our previous 1.6 i-DTEC test by CLICKING HERE

For more information of the revised Honda Civic range CLICK HERE


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