The new Civic generation comes exclusively with hybrid drive and 184 hp - on a test drive with the e:HEV 2.0 i-MMD.
Due to Honda's model policy, it has been somewhat forgotten in this country in recent years, but the Civic family is one of the most successful automobile series in the world. On the market since 1972, over 17 million Civics have been built in ten model generations. If you add all the SUV and other offshoots, it's even ten million more.
Now, after generations eight to ten with their designer exaltations, the Civic sold in Europe should also be back in the fast lane. The market launch is planned for autumn. After the first driving impression, the chances don't seem bad, the new Civic will probably make an impression. Not so much because of the exterior design; this is cautiously reminiscent of its predecessors, but remains reserved and simple. More interesting is the technology under the hood of the new one, whose full name is Civic e:HEV 2.0 i-MMD.
Now with a naturally aspirated petrol engine
For the time being there will only be one motor variant, the hybrid with a system output of 135 kW. Here the system performance is defined by the maximum performance of the larger of the two electric motors. As a reminder, Honda has a petrol engine and two electric motors working together, with the larger one connected to the drive wheels and the smaller one connected to the combustion engine. An electronically controlled clutch ensures that the petrol engine can access the front wheels in a fixed gear ratio.
A two-liter Atkinson naturally aspirated petrol engine is now used as a combustion engine instead of the previous turbo. This works quite convincingly on the first exit. The Civic mostly drives electrically, the gasoline engine intervenes either as an energy supplier or as a drive motor when circumstances require it.
The system switches seamlessly and imperceptibly from one mode to the other. To prevent the combustion engine from roaring into its optimal speed window under high load, it was even given artificial switching stages. Sounds stranger than it is: When you accelerate harder, the drive energy comes from the larger electric motor. The petrol engine revs up to provide the necessary power. When it reaches rated speed, it drops, only to pick up again afterwards. The gasoline engine sounds a little like a fixed, revving sports engine.
All of this looks mature and competent when driving, the Civic drives lively and agile, the hybrid drive is neither tough nor underpowered. According to factory specifications, it should need less than eight seconds to reach 100 km/h; on country roads, the 315 Nm of the large electric motor provide plenty of power and short overtaking distances. How the Civic e:HEV drives on motorways beyond 130 km/h could not be tried out in sunny Spain.
It's good on winding country roads, drives agile and safe there, the steering is precise and easy-going, although a slightly higher dose of feedback would do it good. It also pays off that the Civic is not too heavy for a hybrid compact at just over 1500 kg. There are also positive things to report about the driving comfort: firm, but not uncomfortable. It's a good thing to endure in the new Civic, especially as the interior feels airy and spacious. It only gets tight when getting into the rear or when loading larger items through the loading flap.
What also stands out: the colorful lights in the cockpit have been sorted out. The instruments are quite simple and functional. And the prices? Now skip the threshold of 30,000 euros. Three well-stocked equipment lines Elegance, Sport and Advance are available for the Civic, entry starts at 31,900 euros.
The complex-looking drive in the pleasantly restrained Civic works harmoniously and powerfully, which in turn fits perfectly with the moderately agile chassis tuning.