Hondas have always been known for fantastic steering, and the Civic does not disappoint in this regard.
With the recent introduction of the all-new 2016 Honda Civic, the outgoing Civic sedan immediately became more dated. The level of technology and development that has been invested into the new sedan is on another level, even for Honda. There is a hot Type-R model confirmed for North America too, but there hasn’t been an official unveil for the hot model yet. I was offered a week with the outgoing car, a 2015 Honda Civic Coupe in EX trim, to see how it stacks up against the much-newer competition in its segment. At the same time, my colleagues were in Los Angeles covering the unveil of the all-new model.
First off; the Civic Coupe has maintained the same conservative styling for nearly a decade. Since the major redesign into what I call the “spaceship” design language for model year 2006, the two-door Civic’s profile has remained very similar despite two redesigns over this period. We were invited by Honda to experience the 2014 Coupe1` when it was launched, and the car is essentially unchanged since. Though conservative in design, the Civic is still an aggressive-looking car, but the EX trim looks considerably more basic than the hot Si. There’s no decklid spoiler, body skirting, or anything that differentiates it from the sedan other than the absence of two doors. However, the EX’s alloy wheels and the unique Dyno Blue Pearl colour of my tester are distinctive enough.
While the Civic Si gets a tuned version of the Accord’s 2.4L four-cylinder with an added infusion of i-VTEC, the regular model gets away with a 1.8L four-cylinder, good for 143 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque, coming in at a peak of 4300RPM. Power is exactly on par for the segment, and with newer models (including the Civic Sedan) getting forced-induction and more modern direct-injected powerplants, the 1.8L is beginning to show its age. However, being a Honda powerplant, the engine has a smooth nature to it that is unmatched by most competitors. Acceleration is honest and confident, but the Civic EX won’t exactly be a popular choice for the weekend track day.
Our car was equipped with the five-speed manual transmission, though a CVT is optional on Civic (and is the volume seller). I found the transmission to be excellent in true Honda fashion, with a great relationship between the clutch and shifter. The shifter’s throws are a little bit long, but the gates are defined and it falls into place effortlessly. The clutch is light, but has a definitive bite point and is very easy to master quickly. Readers familiar with the competition will note that the Civic still has a five-speed rather than a six-speed unit, but the gearing is configured quite well and prevents the driver from wanting an additional gear. Even at highway speeds, the Civic doesn’t ache for a sixth gear.
Hondas have always been known for fantastic steering, and the Civic does not disappoint in this regard. The wheel is essentially identical to the one in the Si, small in diameter and easy to spin lock-to-lock quickly. Steering response is almost instantaneous; the Civic changes direction more spiritedly than most of its rivals. In comparison, the Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze, and Toyota Corolla feel numb when cornering. The Mazda3 is a benchmark for this segment, and boasts handling characteristics that are similar, though the steering is a little bit heavier.
I did observe that the ride on the Civic is firmer than that of the Cruze or the Corolla, but noticeably softer than the Mazda3 GT or the Civic Si. A sport-tuned suspension would improve handling slightly, but at the expense of ride quality. Even when doing some long-distance driving, the Civic’s soft ride helps minimize fatigue and the lively handling keeps the driver energized. There is no “Sport” setting in the car at all, because the suspension isn’t adaptive, the throttle already has sharp response, and the shift points on a manual transmission can’t exactly be altered.
Efficiency is key for the Civic, especially with the inclusion of an “Econ” button that numbs the throttle response a bit and very subtly alters engine mapping to save you a few dollars of fuel. My commute the week I had the Civic consisted of mostly highway driving, with a few spirited city jaunts as well. On regular 87-octane fuel (there’s no need for premium here), I averaged 7.3L/100km. I noticed the instantaneous consumption sitting as low as 6.4L/100km when steadily cruising at highway speed. The 50L fuel tank helps ensure that the Civic can go a decent distance before requiring a refuel.
Build quality and fit/finish are top-notch, exactly what I would expect from Honda. There are no large gaps between panels, and the interior materials are good for the segment. Some hard plastics are present, but for the most part everything is made to suit the Civic’s price point perfectly. What’s really good here is the driving position. The manually adjustable seat was easily configured to my ideal driving position, and the same goes for the tilt/telescopic steering wheel. The infotainment screen, climate controls and shifter are in perfect reach of the driver. I spent a week with the car, and it only took me a day’s worth of driving to memorize all major controls. Distraction-free driving is clearly important to Honda’s engineers, and the attention to detail is excellent.
This is the mid-level EX trim – the Civic Coupe can also be had in LX, EX-L Navi, and Si trims. If I wasn’t a performance junkie with my heart set on an upcoming Type-R, the EX would be an excellent daily commuter. It comes equipped with a power sunroof, intelligent key system, heated seats, automatic climate control, and full touchscreen infotainment system with LaneWatch technology. Stability control is also standard for those disgusting, wet winter months. Things like cruise control, air conditioning, power windows and locks are all standard equipment. Adding to the base price of the coupé of $18,950, the EX model comes in at $21,350.
At this point near the end of this model’s life cycle, the Civic Coupe’s only real flaw is that its competitors are more modern and offer more on-board technology. The infotainment system is decent in operation, but the lack of a traditional volume knob bothers me considerably. Rear seat access is easy too, with ample room for both front and rear passengers to ride in comfort for short distances. For longer hauls, the Civic is a two-person car, and the rear seat should be reserved for luggage, coats, or whatever additional junk that won’t fit in the trunk.
Save for the lack of a volume knob, I predict that the upcoming Civic Coupe will be a leader in its segment. Even when the new one does show up though, Honda will undoubtedly offer killer deals to move existing inventory of the outgoing model. The 2015 Honda Civic Coupe EX is a great year-round choice for the young urban lifestyle, or even college students. It offers a considerable amount of standard equipment for a low entry price, and its renowned reputation for longevity means it’s one of the most popular choices out there. After putting this volume-seller through its paces, I’m not even slightly surprised that the Honda Civic is one of the bestselling cars in the world.
2015 Honda Civic Coupe EX Gallery