Fifty years ! A beautiful age for the one that has sold 27.5 million units worldwide since its first introduction to the market in 1972. If it wasn’t easy to fully measure the aesthetic changes of the new Civic in the first photos, doubt is no longer one times allowed. It immediately appears lower and wider than the one it replaces, although Honda insists the dimensions barely change. (4.52 m long by 1.80 m wide and 1.43 m high for the old ones), without revealing any figures, however. Without going into details, this immediately puts it between the HR-V and CR-V. It must be said that it is still a bit early to tell everything, because when the Civic is first presented to the public at the Lyon Auto Show, it will not be available until early autumn, shortly after the start of the the school year. Still, visually, the receding roofline and the much thinner optics are a hit (the LED headlights adapt to the high finish), giving the Honda a little more presence. This one new pencil stroke, wiser than in the mid-2000s, seems especially more maturean impression enhanced when climbing on board.
Pragmatism getting in
The presentation is sober, well-arranged and unadorned, the designers have made it a point of honor not to give in to tactile fashion at all. We therefore find physical buttons for the air conditioning and steering wheel, while the multimedia screen at the top of the dashboard also has physical shortcuts. Easily accessible from the driver’s seat, the touch screen was quite smooth on the pre-series model available to us, even if the responsiveness was not always optimal in the transitions between the different functions. Work has been done on the perceived quality, with materials generally pleasant to the touch, correct plastics and reassuring handling: the buttons click firmly and the various wheels are notched for easy operation even without taking your eyes off the road.
Despite the dynamic profile, according to the brand, the height in the rear seat is not started. That’s lucky, because you don’t have to be too tall not to touch the headliner with your hair! The space for the legs is fortunately generous, enough to allow as many people as possible to expand without worry. Anyway despite the larger glass surface (visibility outwards), in particular thanks to a slightly lowered beltline, thepassenger compartment remains very dark. There will be no obvious coverings, but the advanced Advanced finish gets a sunroof which should bring some light into the cabin. In a logic of simplification of the range with no individual option offered except paint and rims, the entry-level Executive trim and the Sport intermediate will therefore have to do without this skylight.
Hybrid or nothing!
When US customers have the choice between different thermal motors, Europe can only rely on an e:HEV hybrid engine. The latter develops 184 hp and no less than 315 Nm of torque, all via an e-CVT transmission. Honda’s technology differs from Toyota’s in that it is based on a heat engine (a 2.0 petrol) and two electric motors: one serving as a generator, the other driving the wheels. In most cases, therefore, it is only this electric motor that is responsible for propulsion of the car, while the combustion engine serves as a generator. A small buffer battery (just over 1 kWh) is responsible for recovering energy during braking and using this electricity to power the electric traction motor at high power demands. And as with the Jazz, HR-V and CR-V, the thermal motor can be coupled directly to the wheels at a fixed ratio from a certain speed (not yet communicated) at a steady pace and at low acceleration.
Honda ensures that this Civic has a first-class dynamic handling, thanks in particular to a multi-link rear axle (already present on the previous generation). It will of course have to be checked, wheel in hand, but the Original tire fitted in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 on medium and high finishes goes in this direction. Yet the hybrid engine with the transmission is so special, if it should be satisfied with low CO2 emissions of around 110 g/km, on paper it does not invite you to drive a knife between the teeth.
What about the Honda Civic Type R?
For that we will have to wait for the arrival of the filthy Civic Type R version, pure and tough sportsman that will be available from us, against all expectations. And if it’s too early to confirm, it should be nothing less than the last 100% thermal car that Honda has launched in Europe. We can count on an evolution of its 4-cylinder 2.0 turbo, which, on the occasion of this new generation, should gain some horsepower to produce just under 350 hp.
Until then, go to early fall for marketing of the new Honda Civic hybrid, at prices not yet communicated. Production should begin in Japan this spring. The Type R will probably be presented in the course of 2022, to hit the market next winter.