Car of the week: The Honda Civic

We run the rule over the new Honda Civic.

The Honda Civic has been around since 1972 which tells you all you need to know about its popularity. It inhabits the compact sedan/coupe segment which is dominated by Japanese manufacturers and where all cars tend to look the same but offer good value for money and reliability.

Personally, I find this segment crushingly boring, mainly because it is so bland, but one or two manufacturers are making an effort to make their cars stand out from the crowd and one of them, thankfully, is Honda, a manufacturer that is most definitely upping its game by making its vehicles more appealing.

More than 16 million Honda Civics have been sold worldwide since its launch but after nine generations of this car, it was clearly time for a big change, with emphasis on the word big.

The tenth generation of the Civic has been entirely redesigned and has grown in size, so much so that you could easily mistake it for its larger stablemate, the Accord. But for me, the biggest improvement is that Honda’s designers have given the Civic more of a distinctive personality. It now looks like a car you would like to drive, unlike many of its faceless rivals.

And it is the face of this car that really makes it stand out with a redesigned front that is sharper and more sophisticated.

With its sculptured bonnet, cool, slightly mean-looking LED headlight clusters with DRLs (day running lights), sweeping chrome grille with the Honda logo at its centre and deep front spoiler with integral spotlights it has far more allure than its predecessor.

That sportier, more classy, theme continues with the side profile and the rear with new, distinctive, C-shaped rear lights which look great. The car sits wider and lower with 16-inch wheels, resulting in a more confident stance you would normally associate with more expensive cars and it really is a very tidy looking machine.

The makeover continues inside where priority has been given to creating a more luxurious, modern and functional cabin.

The steering wheel is sporty although there are too many buttons on it and the digital instrument cluster is simple and effective.

There is a seven-inch touchscreen which dominates the centre console and where you access the infotainment system. It all looks very good but I didn’t find it intuitive and it was a little frustrating to navigate until I got used to its foibles.

Connectivity for smartphones is good and there are plenty of driver assists including a rear parking camera and a blind-spot camera on the right wing-mirror which is an excellent safety feature.

It operates when you indicate to turn right enabling you to see any traffic that may be undertaking, one of the most dangerous manoeuvres on the road, on the touchscreen.

This does of course mean you have to look at the wing mirror and the touchscreen at the same time. The rest of the cabin is very nicely put together with comfortable seats and plenty of space and again it feels as if you were in a car that costs more than the Dh72,900 starting price of this car.

One of the other features I like in this new Civic is that you can start the engine remotely from the key, enabling you to get the air conditioning going before you get in – priceless in the summer UAE heat.

This Civic is front-wheel drive and comes with two available engines; a two-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated powerplant with 158bhp and torque of 187nm and a 1.5-litre turbo with 180bhp and 220nm of torque in the top-of-the range RS, both with CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) transmission. I am not a fan of CVT because effectively there are no distinctive gear changes, just a seamless succession of gear ratios which enable the engine to run at its most efficient speed. All very interesting and worthy but, if you ask me, I would much rather have proper gear changes.

It works perfectly well in the Civic although I found the two-litre engine in our test car a little sluggish when it came to acceleration although once you are up to speed it is a very comfortable and enjoyable car to drive.

The chassis and suspension have also been upgraded and it comes with Agile Handling Assist and Vehicle Stability Assist to improve the handling. I wouldn’t describe this Civic as fast but it handles itself with confidence and agility when you push it through corners.

Honda say the first shipments of the new Civic into the UAE have already been sold which doesn’t surprise me because for the price you are getting unbelievable value for money with all three models that are available – the LXI, EXI and the sportier RS.

Make no mistake the tenth generation of the Civic is a very good looking piece of kit that punches well above its weight.

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