An exceptional new car to challenge Toyota
Here’s everything you need to know about the new Civic Hybrid.
There’s no escaping the fact that the Honda Civic hybrid is expensive compared to its traditional hatchback rivals. It costs about $7,000 more than the top-of-the-line Mazda3, nearly $10,000 more than the Volkswagen Golf and $13,000 more than the Toyota Corolla Hybrid. That said, it’s packed with amenities, and the quality of cabin materials and finishes are top-notch. Technology includes a fully digital driver display, wireless phone charger, wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, satnav and an excellent 12-speaker Bose sound system. Heated leather front seats and a large sunroof add to the premium ambience, but there’s no head-up display, as can be found on some rivals. The warranty is five years and the services are exceptional value at $995 for five years.
The Civic is an extremely comfortable long-distance cruiser thanks to well-cushioned and supportive seats with a wide range of adjustments for bodies of all shapes and sizes. Rear-seat passengers have good head and knee room, as well as their own air vents and two USB ports for charging devices. Buyers get five years’ free access to “Honda Connect,” an app that lets you pre-cool or heat the car remotely via a phone app. On cold mornings, you can heat the seats and steering wheel, while the air conditioning quickly cools the cabin on hot days. The cabin is well insulated from engine, road and wind noise and the suspension makes it easy to work on rough roads, providing a comfortable yet well-controlled ride at city and highway speeds.
The Civic has all the latest collision avoidance technology, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Lane Keeping Assist works better than most, gently bringing you back to the center of the lane without incessant beeping. Other handy technologies include radar cruise control that works in stop-start city traffic, speed sign recognition and driver fatigue detection. In the unlikely event of an accident, there are 11 airbags to protect occupants, including a front center airbag to prevent the driver and passenger from hitting their heads in a side impact. The car was locally accident-free, but received a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, with an 89% occupant protection rating.
ON THE ROAD
It may be pricey, but you can’t argue with the engineering quality of the latest Civic. The hybrid setup, which combines a two-litre four-cylinder engine with a small electric motor, is quiet, refined, punchy and frugal – a rare combination. We almost hit the claimed fuel consumption figure of 4.2 liters per 100 km, which is impressive considering the performance of the engine. The continuously variable transmission was also one of the best we sampled, keeping the engine seething at its sweet spot. Honda has achieved the compromise between comfort and cornering ability. The car glides over low-speed undulations and road junctions, while staying flat through corners and keeping its composure over high-speed bumps. Precise and well-measured steering adds to the driving pleasure.
The Civic is a premium offering, but the price seems ambitious when there are so many excellent competitors charging thousands less.
Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid, starting around $42,100 drive-away. Much cheaper. No sunroof but head-up display. Less power and torque and a very small trunk.
Mazda 3 X20 Astina, starting around $47,700 drive-away. Cheaper. Similar power to the 2.0-liter mild-hybrid four-cylinder, but more thirsty. Similar equipment levels.
Volkswagen Golf R-Line, from around $45,500 drive-away. A lot less expensive. The engine is more thirsty, with less power, but the cabin is high quality and it’s fun to drive.
HONDA CIVIC HYBRID
THE PRICE $55,000 by car
ENGINE 2.0 liter petrol engine and electric motor, 135 kW and 315 Nm
WARRANTY/SERVICE Five years/unlimited km, $995 over five years
SECURITY 11 airbags, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping and blind spot assist, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control, traffic sign recognition
FUEL USE 4.2l/100km
SPARE Repair kit
LUGGAGE 409 liters
[gptAn exceptional new car to challenge Toyota