By Nauman Farooq
For nearly the last two decades, the Honda Civic has been the best selling car in Canada. It’s not hard to work out why, since the Civic has been an affordable, reliable and practical vehicle for those who want a compact vehicle.
National pride could be part of the reason the Civic has done well also, since it is made in Alliston, Ontario. In fact, Honda is hugely impressed with the quality of vehicles coming out of its Canadian facility, so much so that Alliston was named the lead production plant for the all-new 2016 Honda Civic. So while a few facilities around the world makes the Civic model, Canada got to put the new model in production before anyone else.
That is a huge compliment for the Canadian work force, and should be all the more reason why the Civic will remain the best seller for years to come.
However, those who will be spending their own hard earned cash would like to know, is this all-new 2016 Honda Civic the best compact car currently on sale in Canada?
From an appearance point of view, it most certainly is. This new Civic looks classier than anything else in its category – the design details that this model received has clearly elevated it above its competition. From the profile, it looks like a fastback, but it is actually a sedan. From the front three quarter view, its sleek body makes it look like a sporty coupe rather than a compact sedan, and the more you look at it, the more details you’ll find on this car. I personally think this 2016 Civic should win a design award, it’s that good.
Open the door and you’re greeted by a spacious interior that is also very pleasing to the eye. Honda surely had their ace design team working on this model, because the same attention to detail was given to the interior that was given to the exterior. The layout is clean and user friendly. No one would need to show you how things work in this car, because everything is very logical and positioned just right. Rather than the split instrumentation layout of the previous generation Civic, the dashboard now contains a single TFT screen that shows you all your vital information, with the revs and speed taking centre stage.
There are steering wheel mounted controls for you to scroll through different menu options – while the volume button for the stereo deserves a special mention as it can not only work in the traditional way of pressing up or down, but also by simply swiping your thumb over it.
Couple that with the available wireless ‘qi’ charger for android phones, proximity keys, active cruise control, lane departure assist, etc., etc., and you’ve got a compact car that has the technology to shame many luxury cars. However, I always say; above all, a car needs to be comfortable and good to drive – so how does the 2016 Civic fare on the road?
Well, for starters, there are a two powertrains on offer. Base engine is a 2.0L, inline-four cylinder that makes 158 hp. This motor can be mated to either a six-speed manual transmission, or a CVT automatic. The upgraded powertrain is where the big story lies, because it features a brand new, 1.5L inline-four cylinder engine, that is turbocharged! Yes, this is possibly the first turbocharged Honda model to be sold in North America (however, Honda’s luxury arm Acura offered a turbocharged motor in the first-gen RDX model).
The Civic’s turbocharged engine produces 174 hp, which is quite impressive. However, sadly this motor is currently only offered with a CVT automatic (no manual option), which in my view is not ideal. This transmission on a cold morning makes all kinds of weird whizzing sounds until it heats up, and even at the best of times, does not encourage you to dig deep into its turbocharged performance capabilities, because the transmission feels it has run out of steam. Honda, if you’re listening, please offer this turbocharged Civic with a manual gearbox, it surely needs it.
It could also make do with a more natural steering feel. Like most modern cars, the 2016 Civic has an electronic power steering set up – rather than the old hydraulic based system. While most electric power steering systems lack feel, the one in the Civic is in a league of its own.
Turning the steering wheel is like twisting a servo for a radio controlled toy car, it’ll do the job, but there is a lot of guess work going on in the beginning. The steering input is much sharper than I was expecting, and even after a week of driving, it felt robotic to me. This is by no means dangerous, but it will take a little getting used to.
Apart from that, the ride quality is excellent, and thanks to its aforementioned active (adaptive) cruise control and lane watch system, covering distances on the highway is a breeze. Like most Honda models now, the blind spot camera system is also available on this new Civic, which surely pleases your passengers – although I’m still not convinced how useful it is, since looking at a screen and the mirror at the same time can be quite distracting.
One of the main reasons the Honda Civic has sold so well over the years, is because of its fuel economy. That won’t change with this new model, because it still sips gas. My turbocharged tester averaged a city/highway run with a figure of 7.4L/100km – which makes it one of the most fuel-efficient, non-hybrid, vehicle I’ve tested this year.
If the new Honda Civic appeals to you – and there are plenty of reasons why it should – then you’d be interested to know about pricing. The base “DX” model starts from just $15,990. My fully loaded tester, known as the “Touring” is yours for $26,990. No matter how you look at it, the 2016 Civic still offers you a great bang for your buck.
What does the future hold? There will be a new Civic coupe coming in a few months time, and hopefully us Canadians will get a model featuring the bigger turbocharged motor found in the European-spec Type R model. Offer this model with a manual gearbox and better steering feel, and that will be the ideal Civic for me.
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