“WHAT?! The cost of fuel has gone up yet again!” A familiar cry from the masses as fuel companies cling ever tighter to their profit margins. A trip to the pumps now costs well over double what a weekly shop for a family of four does and with prices set to rise again people are looking for alternatives to their standard combustion engined car. What is the answer? The truth is nobody, not even the experts know, but I can give you my opinion. Electric cars work in theory but until battery technology catches up with such a demand for range it will remain a niche. Hybrid cars are best of both worlds and are becoming increasingly popular, however, is such an alternative really needed? Not if Honda has anything to say about it as their new 1.6 litre diesel engine finds a home in the Civic.
Opening the batting for what is being branded “Earth Dreams Technology,” Honda have produced a 1.6 litre diesel engine that claims to do an impressive 78.5MPG. To put that into perspective the worlds best selling Hybrid, the Toyota Prius, can only achieve 72.4MPG. Arriving in top spec EX trim our i-DTEC Civic was driven in many different environments and we are pleased to say that the car does appear to come very close to its claims.
The cars visual construct is something that has been debated the whole time we have been testing it. Opinions are divided with some seeing it as too obscure and other rather liking the reinterpretation of this next generation model. With the EX’s 16 inch alloy wheels and optional white orchid pearlescent paint the majority ruled with saying they liked the way it looked. Also found on this top specification car is a touchscreen navigation system, an excellent premium audio system with subwoofer, heated leather seats, DAB radio, rear reversing camera and parking sensors. The total cost of this car with every toy on the options list is a rather hefty £23,675.
Inside the high levels of tech make for an environment that caters to your every need. Want to find the nearest Tesco? Sat-Nav has it covered. After crystal clear radio reception? DAB can arrange it. Tight sparking space? The rear reversing camera makes it as easy as playing a computer game. Long journeys are made comfortable by the very supportive seats and the dual zone climate control ensures life in cabin, even on ice cream melting days, if refreshingly cool. As a place to sit for long periods of time the Civic’s interior is top of its class. The boot is also vast and in tandem with Honda’s “magic seats” the space for luggage is versatile. However, the interior ergonomics is the cars Achilles’ heel. Keeping in mind the demographic for buyers of a diesel car with plenty of the options boxes ticked, let us say those who often require reading glasses, the vast amount of buttons all over the console and steering wheel could do with being reduced.
When this 1.6 Civic is on the move we can analyse the most important part of this new car, its engine. As with most diesels on colds days it is a bit gruff at start-up but once you get going it is a very smooth unit. All 300Nm of torque are found low down in the rev range allowing for seamless overtaking manoeuvres The gearbox is yet another brilliant manual from Honda with a really nice positioning and feel. Engine noise is minimal and as previously mentioned, fuel consumption is most pleasing. Around town the need to change gear at about 2,500rpm can become a little tedious, but the steering is light and the brakes give a lot of confidence to the driver. This car is most at home on the motorway where its high levels of torque, comfort and economy can be maximised.
This Honda Civic joins a highly competitive marketplace with tough rivals to beat such as the Ford Focus and VW Golf. The new engine puts this car right in the mix and its interior is most defiantly class leading in terms of comfort. Honda’s 1.6 i-DTEC Civic will no doubt be a big seller, particularly here in the UK.