|The Honda Civic needs no introduction in this country and has been an important variant amongst the citizens since the 1980s. Honda popular selling variant is comparative to the other iconic Japanese product; the Sony Walkman.|
The Honda Civic sits between the Honda City compact sedan and the large sedan Accord. The Civic is suited for the average family man with 2 kids. It held on to some of its youth, by remaining contemporary and trimmed. We should therefore expect the Civic to have bigger engines, especially in comparison to the Honda City. And, the 1.5 displacement powerplant is transferred to the Honda Civic in Hybrid, IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) guise. The Civic Hybrid has a 1.5-liter engine Single-Overhead Cam (SOHC) i-VTEC that produces a maximum of 110ps and 172Nm of torque, that is matched to the IMA. The Civic Hybrid carries a higher kerb weight, due to the integrated hybrid system on the chassis.
The Civic Hybrid’s Lithium-Ion battery pack at the bottom of the car is meant for energy storage, ‘saving the earth’ and fuel regulation purposes.
The essence about a Hybrid car is the fuel consumption factor, and our test unit Honda Civic Hybrid stood out and averaged 15 km per liter at the time we returned the car to Honda Malaysia. Considering that the Civic Hybrid’s kerb weight of 1280 kg, fuel efficiency rate was deemed effectively decent. For the everyday driver, the Civic Hybrid’s 1.5-liter provides enough torque and decent cruise driving.
Although hybrid cars in the second hand car market are still fuzzy, the more important factor about owning a hybrid is the cost of switching the battery, as well as maintaining and replacing related parts.
Civic Hybrid: From the writer’s perspectives
The first thing we did when we sat in a hybrid was to determine what kind of driver would actually buy this car. The answer was pretty simple. A person who is well informed and technologically savvy, looking perhaps for a bit of savings with the rising fuel cost. Design-wise, the writer figured that Civic Hybrid looked similar to the old UK Civic variant.
During the uphill drive, the IMA assisted the Civic hybrid very adequately. This was where the surprise kicked in. There was almost no difference in terms of performance of the hybrid on a low gradient road and high gradient road. The IMA just worked harder to assist the engine, and we began to feel the advantage of the hybrid system that delivered the ‘seamless’ in performance regardless of gradient. However this seamless-ness in performance was short lived as the uphill climb slowly munched away the hybrids battery. Soon we were on just engine power and then we had a screaming 1.5 liter that was still capable of pulling the compact sedan up the hill at decent speeds. So how comfortable are you with a 1.5 liter engine pulling your Civic up Cameron Highlands or uphill resorts? Well that’s it, Honda stuck in a reasonable engine size for the Civic Hybrid, which is far more decent that the 1.3-liter of the Honda Jazz or Insight. Flooring the pedal, we were able to get the Civic to up 80km/h on a high gradient, without any IMA assist.
Civic Hybrid: Handling
It’s a Honda, and Honda makes cars go round bends, twists and corners that only Honda cars can. The test unit came with 195/65R15, Dunlop tyres. We deemed the 15-inch tyres a bit undersized as the car swayed from left to right through the twists and turns when cornering at higher speeds. When the driver pulled back the accelerator, the car was more stable and planted, though the car had reasonable difficulties at top end speeds; the Civic Hybrid topped out at 165 km/h on clear, straight highway roads. One more thing, steering feedbacks were almost non-existent on the straights, as the Civic Hybrid’s steering is electronically assisted.
Civic Hybrid: Comfort
Because of the low ride height of the Civic Hybrid, we were frequently scraping the underside of the car especially when taking road humps a bit too fast.
The Honda Civic Hybrid’s suspension consists of front MacPherson struts and the rear’s multi-link, and the car’s suspension is set soft which denotes its comfort ride and decent cornering attributes. During highways and downhill drives, road noise was minimal, but the writer did notice some wind noise inside of the car at speeds 100 – 110km/h.
As with most competitively-priced compacts to mid-sized cars these days, the Civic Hybrid’s main dashboard and door panels are made entirely of hard plastics. The writer thought the driver-centric center console suited his tastes, and that the layout made the car a little more sophisticated and air-y. He also deemed the overall interior of the Civic Hybrid to be spacious, contemporary and comfortable.
The other thing the writer noticed in the Civic Hybrid was the deteriorating air-conditioning after more than five minutes of usage, just on battery alone. It was more apparent especially in hot and humid conditions.
The sound system in the Civic Hybrid was one of the writer’s favorites. He evaluated that the Civic Hybrid’s audio system had deep, natural and accurate bass and treble. Additionally, he felt overall comfort would be one the reasons why people would own a Honda, Civic Hybrid.
Civic Hybrid: Safety
In terms of braking the Civic Hybrid was a bit unusual, the writer testified. He believed that the regenerative technology affected the usual brake feel. He felt a slight delay from the time he pressed the brake pedal with the desired pressure to the actual stopping or slowing of the vehicle. Emergency braking was a bit of a shock when he tried to bring the car to a full stop; he heard a loud clanking noise emanating from the car’s front brakes. On the specs sheet, the Civic hybrid is equipped with ventilated Disc(Front) and Drums(Rear).
The Honda Civic Hybrid’s safety features are aplenty such as. ABS, VSA, Hill Start Assist, ACE body structure (Advanced Compatibility Engineering), airbags and more. The Civic Hybrid is a recipient of the 4-star Euro NCAP for safety standards.
At RM 120,000 (OTR), the Civic Hybrid is the best variant in Honda’s current hybrid line-up and includes a 5 year warranty, plus an additional 6 complimentary services. The hybrid is chain driven as with most DVVT, VTEC, VANOS and etc, therefore eliminating the need to change the CAM belts at service intervals.
Images by Greg Yang