The tenth-generation Honda Civic has been the recipient of the vast majority of automotive awards over the past year. Suffice to say, the auto media world loves this car, and so do we. I sampled a fully loaded Civic Touring in sedan form (reviewed here) recently and came away thinking it set a new benchmark in the mainstream import car segment. Being a bestseller in its segment, the Civic appeals to more than just the everyman – it’s a popular enthusiast choice. My tester here is the 2016 Honda Civic Coupe LX, in its most basic trim.
From a design standpoint, the Civic is a question mark, one with plenty of controversy. People either love it or they despise it – the aggressive styling just isn’t for everybody. I digress though, because I really like the clever looks; the outgoing ninth-generation car was bland from almost every angle. Our Civic was painted in Rallye Red, a no-charge option that helps the modern lines pop nicely. The rear end incorporates liftback-like styling that almost pays homage to the CRX from decades ago. It’s not a liftback though, and the sexy rear design impairs vision out the back window considerably. The large taillights swoop right across the rear end, also reminiscent of the CRX.
Honda offers two engines on the Civic now, the subject of most conversations is the 1.5L turbocharged motor. Our sleek red two-door was powered by the entry-level K20, the 2.0L inline four-cylinder with i-VTEC that puts out 158 horsepower at 6,500RPM and 138 lb-ft of torque at 4,200RPM. The keen will notice that the K20 is the same heart that propelled the delightful previous-generation Civic Si (reviewed here). The power band is exceptional – this car moves, and it’s easily forgotten that it’s the entry-level trim.
Another pleasant surprise aside from the K20 motor is the fact that the base LX comes with a six-speed manual transmission. In years past, the non-Si Civics only got five-speed units. Typical and unexpected for Honda, the gearbox is excellent. The clutch is light and the shifter throws are perfect. The entire center stack has been raised though, and the shifter is a bit higher than usual for this segment. While I was fine with it, shorter drivers with short arms will have issues and feel like T-Rexs when trying to pull off seamless shifts. The only real downside I found is that even with the manual, the Civic gets an electronic parking brake. It’s a nuisance to use and requires the car to be on to be disengaged.
The up-level Civics with the turbo motor are CVT-only, and while that’s a slick motor, it has one huge drawback in my eyes. The automatic has a “Sport” mode, but there’s no manual shift setting whatsoever. The manual transmission can only be had with the 2.0L for now – Honda has officially announced that this will change in coming months. We can’t wait to sample a more loaded Civic with the bigger motor and three pedals; that will be a proper contender against the Mazda3 (reviewed here) with the 2.5L motor and six-speed manual.
Simple as this car is, it rides like a dream. Whether it’s commuting around the city or out on the highway, sitting at 100km/h in sixth gear, the Civic has formidable driving dynamics. Ride quality is firmer than rivals like the Nissan Sentra (reviewed here), and right up to par with the Mazda3 (reviewed here). It still has Honda’s great quick-ratio steering, with a small-diameter wheel to make handling easier. On the flip side, the steering feels way too electric and lacks any semblance of analog feel.
Beastly as it may look, the little Civic is a very efficient commuter car. With the 2.0L and six-speed transmission, my test averaged 7.1L/100km even including some spirited driving. The thing with the Civic is, it just begs to be driven hard and the engine wants to be revved high. This of course has an impact on economy, but it’s not a huge issue. The car has a 46L fuel tank, which makes for cheap but frequent trips to the gas station. Honda has also kept their “ECON” mode, which maximizes efficiency by adjusting engine mapping and throttle response accordingly.
Interior ergonomics on the new Civic are decent, with clear instrumentation and easy-to-find controls. Interior materials are also adequate, thought here are a few more hard plastics throughout the cabin than I’d like. The door panels really need some soft-touch panels, which I thought Honda would add for the tenth-generation car. However, this is a Honda and everything is easy to find and use – no complaints here. I always appreciate how good Honda automatic climate control is – this shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Standard equipment is one area that the Civic has come a long way from its predecessors. This LX is the base model for the two-door, priced just below $20,000. Even at this price, the car comes reasonably well-equipped, with features such as power windows, door locks, mirrors, remote keyless entry, automatic climate control and heated seats. A full touchscreen infotainment system is also standard, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Lastly, while the base sedan gets hubcaps on steel wheels, the two-door gets 16” alloys. This is a nice touch by Honda, as Civic Coupe owners tend to enjoy customization, and replacing hubcaps with alloys is often the first step to this.
As much as I appreciate the implementation of native mobile phone connectivity in the infotainment system, the rest of the setup was absolutely infuriating. Honda has been using a slow, dated multimedia setup for years, and even though it has been updated significantly for this year, I just couldn’t get on board with it. It froze my iPod multiple times, disconnected my Bluetooth phone intermittently, and I couldn’t get past the fact that adjusting the volume requires use of a touch-sensitive slider. Technology may have come far, but tactile buttons for certain simple controls are still required.
The 2016 Honda Civic Coupe LX is now a segment leader in a class that’s thinning out. Toyota no longer offers the Scion tC (reviewed here), and neither Mazda nor Nissan offer a two-door front-wheel-drive coupé based on their compact car platform. The Kia Forte Koup (reviewed here) is still a contender, and a refresh for the 2017 model year helps that car keep up. In fully loaded form, the Civic is an easy winner at a perfect price point. This base model coupe is a great car for a younger audience that offers plenty of standard features for a price just below the $20,000 mark.
2016 Honda Civic Coupe LX Gallery
First Drive: 2016 Honda Civic Coupe