Article Search


Honda Civic


Honda’s latest European market Civic makes the Japanese-sourced sedan sold in New Zealand seem mundane.

The five-door British-built Civic is as forward looking as the Japanese sedan is bland.
Its bold, radical lines look better in the metal than in photos; its super wedge shape is a real head-turner.
Though you might mistake the Japanese Civic sedan for other makes, there’s no questioning the Euro’s individuality and presence: it’s the sort of individualistic car that Citroen would make.
The body shape is dramatic and futuristic, from the Perspex and chrome grille to the triangular-shaped front driving lights and NSX-like hidden rear door handles. Even the twin exhausts are triangular. A self-cleaning rear tailgate window incorporates a mid-height spoiler, and the only downside to the tail-end treatment is the limited visibility limitation which is worsened by thick C-pillars.

The designers reasoned there was no need for a rear wiper, but at town speeds, water stays on the rear screen.

Unusually, the European Civic is shorter and lower – but wider – than its predecessor. Headroom is a whisker tight if the optional glass roof panel is fitted.

Things are pretty bold inside, with a futuristic steering wheel and Starship Enterprise dashboard dominated by upper and lower curved panels with a digital speedometer in the upper section. Shorter drivers may struggle to read the instruments, the controls are placed somewhat haphazardly and some of the plastics look cheap.

Mechanically, the Euro Civic is conventional.Where the current Japanese Civic sedan has geometrically optimal double wishbone suspension, the Euro has a torsion beam arrangement at the rear – a strange move at a time when rivals like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf are adopting advanced, multi-link set-ups. On indifferent surfaces, the suspension feels firm, and low speed ride is
somewhat lumpy.

The electric power steering is geared to a sharp 2.3 turns lock-to-lock. The steering is well-weighted although not all drivers like its self-centring. Handling is secure, grip high and body roll minimal.

The core design was done in Japan but the final research and development took place in 11 countries.

Civic buyers are conservative and, ironically, the bold body shape might date quickly.
In Europe, Honda has tended to sell to the over 50s – the typical British buyer is 58 – but it’s now chasing buyers between 25 and 40 and is upping the youth profile with the Jazz, CR-V and Formula 1 racing.

Also appealing to younger buyers is the punchy 2.2-litre all aluminium, common rail, turbodiesel engine: there are also 1.4 and 1.8-litre petrol versions. The diesel can return up to 5.1 litres/100km (55mpg), although the reality is somewhat less.
The diesel will hit 100km/h in 8.6 seconds and has a 204km/h top speed.
What interests most customers is the diesel’s mid-range strength and uncanny silence:
it’s quicker and quieter than its petrol siblings. Buyers choose between a six-speed manual gearbox or Honda’s i-Shift automated manual transmission.

Though the Accord has overshadowed the Civic in New Zealand in recent years, the smaller Honda remains an important model for the brand worldwide.
It accounts for 30 percent of Honda’s world sales and 40 percent in European, where around 40 percent of Civics are diesels.

Why don’t we see the most extrovert Civic in New Zealand? It’s probably a matter of cost.

In Europe the car competes with the Audi A3, BMW 120d and Volkswagen Golf. Here, the Civic is a less costly, mainstream contender. British Civic prices range from $37,000 to a hefty $53,000, and the least expensive versions don’t have air-conditioning or alloy wheels. Plus, buyers need to stump up an extra $1000 for metallic paint. A $40,000-plus Civic in New Zealand wouldn’t cut it, despite its design flair. 

Auto Trader New Zealand