Fuel's the enemy
Unfortunately, we can’t say that Honda has done very well with their hybrid models over the past couple of years. Two-thirds into the 2011 calendar year, Honda moved out 33 Civic Hybrids, 438 CR-Zs and 220 Insights. Add them up, and they account for just 1.6% of the brand’s car sales this year. But wait, isn’t fuel economy one of the buying public’s priorities when purchasing a new car?
Well, turns out there's another new hybrid from Honda. And it’s the most fuel-efficient of the current bunch.
Based on the new 9th-generation Civic, the Hybrid gets a new engine. It now displaces 1.5 litres (up from 1.3), but still sports only 8 valves and a single overhead cam. All of that is combined with an electric motor, as well as a lithium-ion battery pack for a total output rated at 110 horsepower and 127 lb.-ft of torque.
In comparison, the Insight makes do with 98 horsepower from its 1.3L engine, while both the Insight and CR-Z are equipped with Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries. On the other hand, the old-gen Civic Hybrid’s powertrain also produced 110 horsepower, so don’t expect it to be any quicker.
The 2012 Civic Hybrid gets fuel consumption ratings of 4.4L/100km in the city and 4.2 on the highway; that’s an improvement over the 4.7/4.3 ratings of the 2011 version. During our short drive down twisty country roads, we’re netting an average of 5.9L/100km; with a little hard work and a little patience from fellow motorists, we could easily dip below the 5.0L mark.
At full-throttle acceleration, the CVT-equipped Hybrid is noisy. Honda’s engines never sound trashy, but the 1.5L mill in this car gives the impression that it’s out of breath (and it is). Fortunately, when driving at a relaxed pace (which you should be doing in a hybrid, anyway) the cabin is whisper quiet. Although not perfect, brake-pedal feel is much improved over the previous-gen model.
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