Test Drive: 2016 Honda Civic Coupe Touring

Honda’s new Civic has been grabbing more praise and awards this year than any other car. The automotive media just love it, including my peers at AJAC who voted it the Canadian Car of the Year.

And then there’s that colour. Energy Green, Honda calls it. I called it Kermit on Wheels or the Flying Sneeze, depending on my mood.

The Civic has been very popular in Canada for a while now, earning the top sales position year after year here in the Great White North, but come on, it’s just a compact economy car here, people, not the second coming of the vaunted Honda S2000.

With that in mind, I approached my week with the Civic Coupe with a sneer and a desire to scrutinize the heck out of it, and prove that my peers simply hadn’t dug deep enough to find the skeletons in this automotive hero-du-jour’s closet.

So, without further ado, let’s get right to the big list of criticisms and complaints I’ve unearthed for this new Civic Coupe.

First off, it doesn’t have a volume knob. Just like every other Honda product out there now, the lack of a simple knob to quickly adjust the volume on the stereo is a massive peeve of mine. In fairness though, I became pretty proficient with the slider volume switch on the steering wheel, so this really isn’t that big of a gripe.

Next, the front seats are a disappointment. They’re claimed by Honda to be leather in this Touring trim car, and yet the plasticky texture and grey hue make them look more fake than the vinyl seats the Germans employ as “leatherette” in their cars. What’s more, they’ve very low to the floor and lack both lumbar support and the adjustability to make them properly comfortable for long-distance travel for my average-sized body.

And next on my list…. well, shoot, that’s it. That’s all I’ve got. The new Civic truly is as great as everyone says it is.

This new Civic Coupe’s greatness stems from the sum of all its brilliantly engineered parts, as opposed to any one aspect that pushes all the passion buttons. Styling-wise, the Coupe works for my eye much better than the awkward-looking sedan does. Being 20 mm lower and about 140 mm shorter, the proportions of the Coupe are much squatter and more aggressive. Plus, the wildly over-styled rear end of the Sedan seems appropriate and better imagined here, and from 20 paces, the front end looks quite assertive (up front, the protruding chrome lip is a little strange).

Or would this be more your speed? 2015 Honda Civic Si Test Drive

And then there’s that colour. Energy Green, Honda calls it. I called it Kermit on Wheels or the Flying Sneeze, depending on my mood, but either way, I wouldn’t call it my choice. But I dig that Honda has the gall to offer it and I know that others will love it. More power to ‘em, I say.

Inside, Honda has finished most of the interior with very high quality materials and components (those seats notwithstanding), and the ergonomics are worlds better than last year’s Civic with its two-tier instrument pod.

And beyond that Honda has done a really good job of integrating Apple CarPlay into their infotainment system. This seems to be the year that CarPlay is showing up as a key feature for many manufacturers, but not all of them have integrated it well. In some instances if CarPlay is in use, it essentially prevents access to many of the car’s own features (for instance, listening to the music function on CarPlay might mean the car’s own navigation system is inaccessible). Honda has done it right though, making the whole system easy to work with and reliably glitch-free.

There’s plenty of new safety tech that’s been brilliantly integrated to the new Civic as well. Adaptive Cruise Control with active braking and stop-and-go functionality, lane-keeping assist, active braking, lane departure warning and of course Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot-checking camera are all standard fare on the Touring trim and available even on the base LX model as an option.

Compared to the sedan, front seat headroom is reduced by 25 mm, and rear seat head and legroom are considerably smaller than the sedan’s as well. Still, there was ample space for my six-year-old son to clamber in and ride comfortably. And despite the swoopy coupe profile, there’s still plenty of side glass giving all passengers a good view out.

Trunk space shrinks in the coupe to 337 L from 416 L in the sedan, so the two-door is definitely not as practical as its larger sibling, but that’s the cost of sportier styling.

Sportier also applies to the driving experience of the new Civic. Our Touring trim car was fitted with the new 1.5L, direct-injected turbo four-cylinder. This engine dispenses 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque from 1,700–5,500 rpm giving it a driving character unlike any Civic I’ve experienced before. There’s always a pleasing amount of pep and not even the CVT transmission (which is actually a very good one) can suck the life out of this great little mill.

During the test week, I seemed to find myself constantly behind schedule and Kermit was always eager to help me make up for lost time by zipping through traffic with considerable zeal. It’s a legitimately fun machine to drive whether in urban congestion or out on country roads and gets me honestly excited to think how great the upcoming Civic Si (let alone the Civic Type R) will be, especially with one of Honda’s notoriously slick manual transmissions thrown into the mix.

It’s also confidence-inspiring, due in no small part to the Civic’s quick and precise handling. Steering – electrically assisted as is the case everywhere these days – doesn’t provide the same sort of feedback my old ’93 Civic Coupe did years ago, but by today’s standards, it’s pretty good. The brakes, too, have great initial bite and offer impressive stopping power. At 1,317 kg, the Coupe is about 25 kg lighter than its sedan counterpart.

The Civic Coupe is surprisingly quiet too. Wind and road noise are both notably subdued and engine noise only makes itself obvious when the elevated revs are held by the CVT during aggressive acceleration.

In the past, I’ve been duped into expecting big efficiency from so-called eco-friendly, small-displacement turbo engines only to find that when worked hard to keep up with traffic, they consume fuel at an eyebrow-raising rate. After an inordinate amount of city driving, and pressing Kermit to zip through traffic, it still delivered an average consumption of 6.5 L/100 km. The last car I reviewed that did that under similar driving circumstances was a hybrid. Concluding a full week’s worth of driving, it only took forty-two dollars’ worth of regular fuel. That’s barely more than half what most vehicles cost me.

The government rates the Civic Coupe at 6.7 L/100 km combined, and 5.6 highway; 7.5 city. Achieving or even bettering those figures should be a breeze for all but the most heavy-footed motorists.

Despite my best efforts to find the hidden flaws in new Civic Coupe, I’ve failed to unearth anything that would prevent me from enthusiastically recommending it to family and friends. Honda’s award-winning little gem is sure to keep the sales figures sizzling, and with the added dose of style the Coupe gives over the Sedan, it remains a great choice for those who don’t mind giving up some practicality.

Warranty:
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 3 years/unlimited distance roadside assistance

Competitors:
Hyundai Veloster
Kia Forte Koup
Mazda3
Scion FR-S / Toyota 86
Volkswagen Golf

2016 Honda Civic Coupe Touring
2016 Honda Civic Coupe Touring
Base Price $27,555
Optional Equipment None.
A/C Tax 100
Destination Fee $1,595
Price as Tested $29,250
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 8.2
8 Exterior Styling
8 Performance
9 Interior
7 Comfort
9 Fuel Economy