Honda Civic 1.8i-VTEC test
Original, extravagant, unusual...this best describes the design of Hondas new Civic. Unveiled in concept car form at the Geneva last year, it has basically remained unchanged...Honda is wagering on its prototype look to find a place in Europes most competitive sector. Honda, which often finds it hard to be civilised, is taking a risk in trying to become accepted.
The new Civic retains the same silhouette as the coupe, notably thanks to its high positioned door handles and the spoiler placed midway through the hatchback where a third tail light is encrusted. Even more original are the triangular exhaust exits that remind one of the anti-fog lights at the front. The symmetry is perpetuated further by the all-glass front end and the two other tail lights that span the width of the car. One thing is for sure, the eighth generation Civic is intriguing and certainly stands out in traffic. The Honda Civic is in a class of its own...When sitting behind the wheel you get the impression you are in a flying saucer except that this interior was made for everyday use. All of the controls are intelligently positioned, especially the gear shift. The information displayed on the dashboard is right where the driver can see it. Throw in roominess and you cant help but feel comfortable aboard. But, in terms of finish quality, Honda has dropped the ball, just a little. There are some nice touches but they mix with some rather less than top-drawer plastic bits. The assemblage is less than ideal and there is a tad too much noise.
A shame really, because the new Civic is a lot of fun to drive, even though the 1.8-litre VTEC gas engine isnt very smooth at slower speeds...all the same, it is a fine car in town but as soon as it surpasses 3500 rpms it becomes quite noisy. This unprecedented engine has some new Honda VTEC technology, including variable valve settings for better fuel consumption. Yet, it is nothing extraordinary for an 1800cc, where most of its sector rivals have opted for 2-litre power plants.
On the road: Dynamic
The gearbox is precise and the gears are well staged. True to its reputation, the Honda Civic provides lively handling, but undermines comfort. The suspension is very stiff and youll fell every bump in the road. Despite all this, the chassis remains solid and completely safe...all that is left now is to wait for the future Type R.