A hybrid revival
Honda Civic e:HEV review+20
On July 11, 1972, Honda launched its Civic. It is undoubtedly the brand’s best-known model, especially in France, where 190,000 copies have been sold since its inception. Now produced in Japan and available as a hybrid only on the old continent, Honda’s “citizen car” is presented in a new light for its 50th anniversary.
This new Civic retains the generous size of the previous generation and now reaches 4.55 meters. To a few millimeters, the ribs are those of a series 2 GranCoupé, or a Class A Sedan. The oxymoron designation of large compact corresponds unequivocally to the Civic.
The chassis is an evolution of the previous model. There are MacPherson suspensions at the front and a multi-link rear axle. The wheelbase, already generous, has been increased to 2m73, a development that promotes interior space and comfort.
On the mechanical side, the hybrid and the Civic is also an old story. As early as 2003 Honda offered such a proposal on its flagship model, equipped with the house system called IMA. An electric motor at the service of combustion, while the e:HEV of the new Civic is quite the opposite! A new 2-litre 4-cylinder with direct injection is associated with an electric traction motor, a generator, and a power module, all under the control of a controller. This hybrid set takes the name of e: HEV and offers similarities with the system offered on the CR-V, the HR-V or the Jazz. A somewhat simplistic shortcut, but which nevertheless does honor to the famous “Power Equipment” of the brand, can present the internal combustion engine as a generator at the service of the vehicle. The reality is far more complex, even if in practice the Civic knows how to be as easy to use as the brand’s small red engines.
Visibility & space
Honda Civic e:HEV review+20
Visually, we discover a Civic with more slender lines, which give it a dynamism without artifice. It is not over-designed like many competitors. Between the aggressive look of the previous generation, launched in 2017 and the clumsy look of the 2011 model, Honda seems to have found its way. This is particularly true for the front part, or the general appearance, it is less so for the rear face. There are a number of new details, from the uprights of the refined windscreen, to the rear hatch in synthetic material, including the increase in the glass surface. The whole exudes a sobriety of good quality, enhanced by 18-inch rims, a honeycomb grille or mirrors placed on the wings which enhance the line of the Civic.
Inside, this Honda is part of a trend initiated on the “e”, where the passenger compartment is spacious and uncluttered in order to create a comfortable atmosphere. The 10.2-inch HD screen is large enough to satisfy enthusiasts and easy to use so as not to put off others, the controls are touch sensitive, with dials and rockers. As on the first Civics, a long strip runs from one side to the other of the dashboard. It takes up here the motif of the grille. At the rear, there is plenty of room for the legs, and the feeling differs depending on the version. The black roof lining of the Sport versions gives the feeling of being caulked, the sunroof and glass, combined with the clear roof lining of the Advance finish, gives on the contrary a feeling of space. Two rooms, two atmospheres in a way.
We appreciate the lightness of the tailgate in synthetic material, which thus does without assistance. He discovers a trunk the size of a car of this size. It allows you to bring back flat boxes from Ikea, or to go on vacation, not to move. If some will regret the magic seats available on the Jazz and HR-V or the Civic 8 & 9, the fixed shelf and the cubic shape will be appreciated.
Honda Civic e:HEV review+20
We covered 300 kilometers around Madrid aboard or at the wheel of a Civic in its Advance finish, the highest available, which is distinguished by a large glass and opening roof, leather-covered seats, fully digital instrumentation and equipment Audio from Bose. The Platinum White shade of our test model is one of the 5 shades available, the choice in terms of colors, as options, being always measured at Honda.
Despite a lower height, access on board is easy, including for the tallest, at the front and at the rear. The environment is attractive, the assembly flawless, with touches of originality and simplicity of layout. Forward and side visibility is very good. The third generation of Civic, those of the years 1984/1988, was taken as a reference, according to the engineers of the mark. It is less true towards the back, fastback style obliges. The electric seats of the Advance model can be used without thinking. The leather trim, micro-perforated, marks a clear improvement, both in comfort and to the touch, compared to the previous generation and what Honda has been able to offer in the past.
Getting started is quick. Of course it is possible to customize the parameters before departure, to adjust screens and music, but you can also put on your seat belt, press the ignition and the Drive button, remove the handbrake and set off…in silence. Appreciable simplicity. The opening panoramic roof, lined with a beige gray roof lining, adds to the ambient light and allows you to take advantage of a little morning freshness that the Madrid traffic jams and the sun’s rays quickly encourage you to hide. We then enjoy the comfort of the Civic. It is real, with a filtration that we found rather on the Accord at Honda. The Japanese engineers present told us that the Honda sedan had served as a benchmark. The kilometers traveled on the M-30, and the untimely stops, allow you to become familiar with the screens and the possible modes, Eco, Normal or Sport. Again, it’s pretty intuitive.
Once left the “Circunvalación”, the peri-urban area and its speed bumps, almost as bad as their French counterparts, are crossed without clashes. A good point that confirms the initial feeling of comfort. In Eco or Normal mode, the Civic most often evolves into EV, while consumption flirts with 5 liters per 100 kilometers.
Dynamic like a Civic
Honda Civic e:HEV review+20
Change of scenery with the small roads of the Cuenca Alta del Manzanares natural park. Quite wide and sinuous, they invite you to roll up the bends. The steering in Sport mode and the Pilot Sport, specially developed by Michelin, work wonders. Rigorous, the Civic remains flexible, making us regret the active suspension available on the older generation. On this winding terrain, the internal combustion engine is constantly on the alert. The 184 horses are present, even if they have to deal with 1500 kilos. Still in sport mode, a gear change noise accompanies acceleration. It’s fun, but in the end, we may prefer the normal mode. Same thing with the steering wheel paddles of relative interest. It’s in dynamic exercise that the Civic excels, not in sport. For that there will be the Type R.
Even while playing, consumption hardly exceeds 6 liters per 100 kilometers, or 650 kilometers of autonomy. As for the template, it is only faulted for the slots. The Civic remains reasonable with its hips of 1m80, comparable to those of a Golf or a Corolla. A plus to meet in the villages.
Our test ends with a fairly clear section of highway. As in the winding, the thermal takes over and the traffic encourages you to test the driving aids. The line crossing warning reminds its presence quite vigorously, while the cruise control is less intuitive than the majority of controls. On the other hand, the maintenance in the lane was flawless. The Honda Sensing system of driving aids appearing just as present, but less abrupt than in the past.
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Ease of use, economy and versatility, the Civic fulfills the contract it has had for 50 years. Hybrid and dynamic, this eleventh generation adds comfort, which, let’s be honest, had never been its forte. If the version of our test is displayed at 37,100€, Honda offers the Executive version for its launch at 29,900€, or 289€ per month over 36 months. With its 184 horsepower without penalty, it is an original alternative to the tenors of the category and to many SUVs.