Honda has not only knocked the socks off the competition by winning AJAC’s 2016 Canadian Car of the Year award, but I seem to be walking around barefoot myself. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but whatever it was, it has been blasted to smithereens. The new Honda Civic is really good.
For the first time in over a decade, I missed AJAC’s TestFest, the annual gathering of Canadian auto journalists determined to find the best of the best in each car category. Although I may be late to the party, I totally agree with my colleagues: The redesigned 2016 Honda Civic is amazing.
Honda has done an impressive thing. I can be a reasonable consumer and thus can appreciate the Civic as a whole ― a tool for getting from point A to point B and something that, although it might be treated as an appliance, will satisfy driving enthusiasts. Seriously, a massive “WOW!” to Honda from yours truly for this car.
Some of you may be surprised to learn that my personal stable of cars includes two Hondas (alongside my Subaru and Volkswagen). This brand, like a few others, is known for some incredible and unique cars. While I can’t afford an NSX or S2000, I own a 1985 CR-X and a 1997 del Sol. These cars have a soul, they have character ― two qualities that are sorely missing in most modern cars, and if I may add, were missing at Honda until now.
The new 2016 Civic is the first Honda since the S2000 to have “it”, that sense of purpose beyond being but a way to get around. It’s not as plainly obvious as it is in the CR-X, but it’s undeniably there, if nothing else than an evolved version.
Yes, driving the Civic is fun. Instrumental in that statement is the presence of the all-new turbocharged 1.5L 4-cylinder engine. Despite its smallish displacement, this mill is impressive and highly entertaining.
Boosted might makes right
Available on the EX-T and Touring versions of the 2016 Honda Civic sedan, the 1.5T produces 174 horsepower and a relatively timid 162 lb-ft of torque. Ah, but the secret of its success comes from the fact that all the torque is on tap from 1,800 rpm, and stays that way until the engine reaches 5,500 rpm, when maximum horsepower arrives.
Channelling that power to the front wheels is a continuously variable transmission (CVT). In the Civic, this ‘box functions very well. It pretends to shift in order to avoid screaming engine speeds; however, the driver has no manual control over gear changes. The Civic Coupe features steering wheel-mounted paddles that hopefully will make their way to the Sedan.
The turbocharged 2016 Civic feels faster than it actually is, but don’t be fooled: As boost builds up so quickly and power delivery is linear, you’ll be travelling at a greater rate of speed than you expect.
The new Civic also handles like a Honda should. To be honest, Honda has never really let us down in this department. The old Civic held its own on the road when driving got spirited, but the new car takes it one level further.
This 10th-generation Civic rides on a new platform that is stronger and lighter than the previous model’s. Built into that is a revised multi-link independent rear suspension with new bushings, not to mention brake torque vectoring and, my favourite, a dual-pinion variable electric power steering. In a few words, the 2016 Honda Civic is a sharper, more astute road car in every sense.
The steering’s quick response will surprise at first, but is quickly adjusted to. The car remains flat through switchbacks and long, sweeping on-ramps. When you depress the go-pedal, the drivetrain works at putting the power down, and once more, the sequence of events is so seamless that I felt like I was not going as fast as the speedometer indicated. I loved every moment at the wheel of this car.
From a point of view
The 2016 Honda Civic has been completely made-over, and although I was concerned about what I perceived to be a throwback to the late Crosstour, I quickly put that aside and began appreciating the work of Honda designers. You can judge the 4-door hatchback look for yourself, and don’t get hung up on the taillights ― they’re really cool.
What’s also colossally cool? Turbo stickers! +10hp!
From the cockpit
And now, the cabin. The redesigned environment combines modern amenities with the extremely useful. The centre console is a perfect example as it’s deep enough to hold a wine bottle and much more while blending nicely with the shifter and a few key controls.
The display audio system is comprehensive and user-friendly. The dual screens have been replaced by a horizontal bar that contains the important HVAC controls as well as a “cheat button” that takes you directly to more options on the screen without dealing with more menus.
The seats are adequately bolstered, comfortable, and provide an ideal driving position. Rear occupants are well treated, too, thanks to the new car’s greater overall interior volume. Oh, and it’s fairly quiet in there even at highway speeds.
Not letting go
The 2016 Honda Civic is nowhere near relinquishing the top seller spot in Canada in its segment. Despite the arrival of a new Hyundai Elantra, the always entertaining Mazda3, the Toyoyawn, er Toyota Corolla, and many more, the Civic is unlikely to be knocked out of its No.1 spot.
I am once again a willing member of #civicnation, and all I can say now is this: Bring on the Si ‘cause it will surely be smashing good fun.