2016 Honda Civic

Upped the ante in its class

"The dimensions are more Accord-ish now!" said Ershad.

From the outside, you can almost sense roominess within the car."

"This is a daily driver which can give you a good balance of driving fun and reliability."

"Overall handling is a bit on the wallow-ish side; but comfort is just excellent"

Daily trips between home and office, a trip to the supermarket through bumper to bumper traffic, skipped service schedules, occasional off-roading; these form an essential part of a daily drive family car. The users are demanding and cars in this segment need to be really good to get the sales registers ringing. Japanese carmakers have been really successful in this category and today we have one of the best picks of the lot, the 2016 Honda Civic.

Finished in Cosmic Blue Metallic, the new Civic looks modern and updated. Whereas the competition has resorted to downsizing their models, Honda has actually gone the other way around by making the Civic a bigger car compared with the previous year. The new Civic has undergone a complete revamp from ground up. The typical sedan silhouette gives way to a fastback look with a sloping roofline, which kind of reminds me of the Honda Crosstour at times. The stance is more imposing than the previous model with bulging wheel arches and a curvy design language. The 2016 Civic has a longer wheelbase and is wider than the previous model which translates into better comforts for the passengers. The dimensions are more Accord-ish now!

The front end features bigger, sleek headlight units with integrated daytime running lights. The front grille now extends over the headlights and is finished in chrome, but is instantly recognizable as a member of the Honda family. The front bumper has a mix of aggressive and flowing shapes with big air dams incorporating the fog lights. The sleek profile is continued on to the nicely shaped hood, which joins a heavily raked A-pillar. From the A-pillar to the boot, there is one smooth, poetic flow that will be a distinctive factor for this year’s Civic. From the outside, you can almost sense roominess within the car. The rear quarter of the new Civic is something to talk about now. The C-shaped taillights look fresh out of some concept show car and puts an end to the bland rear end of the previous model. It looks chic and shouts style. The boot of the car also incorporates an integrated spoiler which effortlessly blends with those nice looking rear lights. The boot line drops sharply into the rear bumpers, which are well-designed to match the overall looks of the car. Viewed from the sides, there are a couple of ascending character lines which help to enhance the front-down rear-up aggressive stance. One thing that caught my attention was the clear-lens indicator light on the front wheel arch. It could have been styled better; it looks a lot like an aftermarket add-on. Our test car had the 16-inch alloy wheels with a shape that I am not a big fan of. I don’t know what they call it, but I prefer simple, straight designs compared with the complex shapes they have in modern cars.

Time to step in and take the Civic for a drive around the city. I presume that the interior will be super-hot, thanks to the outdoor photo session. Surprise, surprise! The new Civic has a remote start feature that allows you to start the car and make the interiors comfy for you to settle in and drive off. A first in this class of cars and a very big thank you from the bottom of the heart of all future Civic users who will be parking their cars outdoors. So good-bye to superheated steering and seats! The new Civic features smart entry, a push-button for engine start/stop and electronic parking brake. It just keeps getting easier and easier. Getting into the car is effortless, thanks to a high roof and low floor. Settling into the seats finished in a combination of ivory and black colors, you get that upmarket feel which was missing a bit on the previous gen Civics. Almost all panels are padded and radiate a good feel. Controls fall into hand easily and all switches and knobs feel good to operate. The new Civic features dual zone climate control, rear AC ducts, rear armrests and 60/40 fold down rear seats for added comfort. The interiors have a lot of room with ample headroom, legroom and excellent visibility all around. Rear seat legroom is too good and the sloping roof does not interfere much into passenger comfort. All those extra dimensions are doing their job. The base model comes with a touchscreen audio system with a five-inch screen that works well, albeit the volume control. Volume control needs knobs in any century! Touching plus and minus buttons on a touchscreen just doesn’t work. Steering mounted audio controls lessened my agony, but knobs work best. The four-speaker sound system kept us happy throughout the drive.

Releasing the electronic parking brake and a mild foot on the accelerator, the 2.0 liter i-VTEC engine pulls the car ahead with ease. The completely new engine now pumps out a healthy 158 horsepower at 6500 rpm, with a torque figure of 187 Nm at 4200 rpm. This means one thing: rev it to get it. Typical VTEC talk. Pushing hard on the throttle, the power is transmitted to the front wheels through a CVT that surprisingly has no way of manually selecting gears. No paddles, no slots in the gear selector; that’s sad. But the CVT easily moves through its cogs to quickly pick up speed. There is no nerve-cracking acceleration, but just a smooth flow of power. According to the Honda literature, the new engine is lighter and more efficient than the 1.8 liter unit it is replacing. The electronic power steering feels very light at lower speeds, but things are slightly better at higher speeds. Suspension is comfortable and loves to even out the occasional bad patches encountered on the motorway. Overall handling would be a bit on the wallow-ish side; but comfort is just excellent. Disc brakes all around perform well with anti-lock and Electronic Brake-Force Distribution electronics in place. A Vehicle Stability Assist system with Traction Control keeps the car in check during mid-corner emergencies or urgent direction changes. Air bags for driver and front passenger are standard.

Verdict
The 2016 Honda Civic (the 10th generation) has definitely upped the ante in its class. This is a daily driver that can give you a good balance of driving fun and reliability. The refinement and features from a Honda branded car has always been top-class, and the new Civic is just another benchmark. It looks smashing in the RS avatar and I would love to get my hands on one soon. Honda has a winner again.

Pros: Beefed up looks, roomy interior, fuel economy, comfortable drive
Cons: Price bracket is on the higher side, noisier at times

Rivals: Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Volkswagen Jetta, Subaru Impreza, Nissan Sentra, Mitsubishi Lancer, Kia Cerato
Engine: 2.0 L i-VTEC engine, 158 hp @ 6500 rpm, 187 Nm @ 4200 rpm
Transmission: CVT, FWD
Performance: 0-100 km/h: 9 sec, 6 L/100 km, top speed: 200 km/h
Weight: 1247 kg

4 STARS
One word: upped

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