After a nine-month delay, largely due to the Asia-Pacific Tsunami, the ninth-generation Honda Civic Sedan was launched to the motoring press last week at Fancourt Golf Estate, George.
The all-new Civic range featuring cleaner engines and smarter technology is available in two engine derivatives (1.6 and 1.8-litre) and three trim levels (Comfort, Elegance and Executive), while a five-door hatchback version will be available in three month’s time.
From the outside, the Civic looks pretty impressive keeping the Honda family face and design language of the Accord and Ballade. The cabin retains the two-tier instrumentation layout of the previous-generation Civic complete with intelligent multi-information display. While the interior may look impressive, the dashboard, center console and door trim is covered in an assemblage of horrible-looking hard plastics – not what you’d expect after driving the Elantra, Corolla or Focus. However, there are several creature comforts – model dependent – that make up for the plastic fest such leather seats, Bluetooth, auxiliary and USB audio connections, and a multi-function steering wheel. The cabin is also a lot wider and longer than its forebear with shoulder room and rear legroom increasing by 75mm and 40mm respectively.
Engine-wise, there are two units on offer: a 1.6-litre (92kW and 151Nm) and a 1.8-litre (104kW and 174Nm) both featuring i-VTEC and available in automatic and manual guise. The 1.8-litre pulls well and responds diligently to throttle inputs. The environmentally inclined will be happy to know there’s an ECON mode, too, which helps foster better fuel economy and efficient driving.
The Civic handles surprisingly well and is bereft of any noticeable body roll thanks to a revised McPherson strut suspension (front) and a multi-link configuration (rear).
Although a neatly pieced together car with a solid engine, the Civic left me feeling a little empty – I was expecting a lot more in terms of quality and refinement. Don’t get me wrong, the Civic isn’t a bad car; it just lacks the sophistication of the Hyundai Elantra.
That said the Civic employs a host of safety programs such as G-CON, antilock brakes with EBD and EBA. Stability control is standard on 1.8 Executive – something that doesn’t feature in the Elantra.
Honda aims to move a respectable 300-plus units per month and assures us there’s enough supply to meet demand. Although no diesel option is available, a Type R hot hatch will be on offer in the future.
FOR: Raft of driver aids
AGAINST: Interior feels cheap, lots of wind noise and lifeless steering
PICK OF THE RANGE: 1.8 EXECUTIVE
ALTERNATIVE CHOICES: Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus sedan
TOPCAR RATING: 6.8/10