Sunday, January 20, 2013

Prima Facie - Honda Civic EURO

The Civic sedan, Le General with little Ming-N in 1988.
I was a sucker for Honda Civic, when we landed on this shores of Aeotearoa; my first car was a second-hand white Honda Civic sedan.

It was a really boring sedan, 1.6L; 12 vales; get you from A to B but boring, boring; boring ;)

 A few months later, I traded the borer for a new two door Civic 1.5...
The two door 1.5 Civic, me with family and friend in Auckland, 1989.
The 1989 two door Civic 1.5 hatch look really sporty but still gutless, I remember the time the 4 of us went on our North Island tour and how I struggled to get up the Rimutaka Range on 2nd gear!!

But that was then, this is now...

I found out the new Honda Civic EURO are in town!

It took almost five years for the hatchback version of the Civic to return to New Zealand! The NINTH Generation Civic came all the way from Swinton, England!

According to Honda New Zealand...

A New Class of Hatch - Euro Civic. By Honda.

"Born of Europe by Honda's international design teams, the all new Euro Civic five-door hatch showcases a striking and confident design, impressive performance and innovative technology solutions to balance the best of high-speed autobahn cruising with the cobbled back streets of Italy.

With class leading space and revolutionary magic seats the Euro Civic was designed to meet the demands of the European market, with an elegant yet ultra-modern feel, the Euro Civic is a car that couples lifestyle and cutting-edge design to stand out in a crowd."

Sound very impressive and 24 years later I was sucker in AGAIN!   ;)

So just before 2013 new year I drop into Honda Car Wellington to find out how much I can get for my 2 year old Lancer VRX Sportback :)
My VRX...  Two years later, still stunningly good looking!
Sadly, I was offered too little $$$$$ for my VRX, so I had to extinguish my desire and fire for the aggressive looking Civic EURO.

Like a whisper, the much needed holiday season came and gone...

I received a call from Ross at Honda Sales on Monday, I told him their offer is too little and I intended to keep my Lancer for at least another year.

While talking to him, I found out Ross have a cousin, Malcolm; who work at the Singapore Straits Times!  Good old M McLeod, who I know when I was the Picture Editor at Singapore Press Holdings!  Talk about small world!

I asked and Ross agreed that I can take a Civic EURO for a spin and write about my experience!


Today, late morning; we pick up the "yellow topaz" Civic EURO from Ross. I was going for the white one but he said that is a "manual", beggars are no chooser; so off we go towards the near by Mt Victoria. I done car shoot at the pine forest before and that was also the spot where my dear beloved dad loved :)

Dad at the pine forest, Mt Victoria 1997
The Yellow Topaz Civic EURO at the Mt Victoria pine forest, Wellington.
Where is the rear door opener? Side on, the Civic Euro look like a two door sport hatch... nice illusion :)

The sporty side mirror with turn indicator built in.

The "hidden" rear door opener, ala Mazda RX-8.

Front lamp and a LED lamp strip in the air scoop hole.

Even the radio antenna look aerodynamic and sporty!

Honda alloy and 16" tyre! This was a give away that the test car I am driving is NOT the latest model!  No wonder we cannot locate the reverse camera!  We spent at least 15 minutes trying to figure out where the camera is!

This test car was suppose to be  the "L" variant. A flagship model that wears 17 rather than 16-inch alloys, front fog lights, auto headlights, a reversing camera, a premium sound system, more sophisticated Bluetooth system, leather-trim heated front seats, and dual-zone climate control.

I was disappointed!

The busy engine bay... the 4 cylinder banger is 1.8-litre with16-valve and i-VTEC,  outputting a max power of 104kW@6500rpm, max torque is 174Nm@4300rpm.

The climate control air cond
Ugly shifter! Come on Honda, at a whopping $38,990 NZ I am sure you can do better!  Look at the Mitsubishi one...  ;)

Do you agree this shifter from the Lancer look better than the Civic one?

Same go for the paddle shift, they are TINY and made of plastic!  You need LONG fingers to activate them ;)

I like the three pod instrument panel, the gauge cluster is well lay-out, with a central rev counter and fuel/temp gauges on either side; a very effective "old school" design that works well!

I am not so sure about the upper binnacle with the digital speedometer though, the fast changing numbers can be very irritating; I think the boy racers will definitely get a kick out of the fast accelerating numbers change ;)

The sporty looking rear light cluster sweep around the hatch and form a rear "wing" and spoiler.

The rear wing took out a large strip of your rear vision, the high sill added to the limited rear mirror view.

The very deep boot and folding rear seats give you tons of carry space!

Getting in and out of the driver seat is a breeze, I immediately notice the doors are very heavy and solid; the Civic received a a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating.

How did it drive?

When I took the car out of the yard, I immediately notice the very deep travel of the accelerator before I get any response!  I have to literally "half floored" the pedal to get the Civic moving briskly!

I am not sure if that was a Honda design or there is a fault in the linkage, compare to the ultra responsive  pedal input of my Lancer, it does seems strange! May be Honda New Zealand can enlighten me on this?

The impressive thing about this European accent Civic is how very quite it is! Cabin noise is one area where Honda has done serious work, and I learn that more than 10kg of deadening sound absorbing material were added to ensure a real sense of serenity even on highway speed. Honda also devised a full under-pan cover to cut down the under-body turbulence in high speed.

This area of "Sound of Silence" is where the Lancer looses out!!

Overall, the Civic EURO drive really well, it is firm and directional stability impeccable; the lack of road and wind noise is superb.

Acceleration wise, it is no hot rod; the power delivery of the 1.8L twin cam engine is so smooth, there is actually a lack of speed sensation; I know we are accelerating at a rather rapid pace from the furious numbers changing digital speedo :)

These are Honda's claim:

Max 104kW at 6500rpm and 174Nm at 4300rpm. Max 205kmh, 0-100kmh 8.8sec, 6.1-6.5L/100km, 146-155g/km CO2.

Compare to my VRX the output is 125kW@6000rpm, 226Nm@4200rpm, but the Lancer VRX Sportback banger is 2.4L and the Civic is only 1.8L, 0-100km/h: 7.9 sec.

Which bring me to the million dollars question...

How is this sporty EURO Civic gonna compete with the "equal spec" 2012 Lancer 2.0L SEi which is going for NZ$29,990 instead of the $38,990 of the 1.8L Civic Euro?

Both cars have reverse cameras, the 2012 Lancer come with cruise control and key-less entry which the Honda don't!

An extra $10,000 is a lot of $$$$ ;)

I think the Honda Civic EURO have a really tough fight ahead to get into the small Wellington new car market!

Thanks to Honda Cars Wellington, 65 Kent Terrace, Wellington for the test drive.

You Might Also Like:

My Lancer VRX Sportback


heather said...

Is that you CY? or is it someone else? Nothing wrong with a boring car.As you said.. they get you from A to B. That`s what it`s all about.

Mardell Tobin said...

I understand what you meant by saying that the Civic Euro was an aggressive-looking car. Its design reminds me of a rally car, so it was a little disappointing to read how it didn’t offer much for speed. But then again, I’m not on the public road to practice race car driving. You did mention that the car you took out for the test drive wasn’t the latest model, so perhaps a few of the issues you had may have already been attended to.