1 Feb 2006
HONDA’S eighth-generation Civic represented a radical departure for the Japanese small car.
For the first time in the model’s 23-year history, no hatchback version was offered, as a result of Honda’s decision to only build the sleek sedan in Thailand and Japan.
Subsequently, the futuristic UH Civic hatchback, manufactured solely in the UK, is delayed until the end of 2007 at the very least.
Nevertheless, with sharp pricing and more features, space, power and refinement than before, the Civic sedan has been a success in Australia.
Dual front airbags, ABS anti-lock brakes with EBD Electronic Brake Force Distribution, air-conditioning, cruise control, CD audio, electric windows, power mirrors and remote central locking are included.
Compared to the old sedan, the UH Civic is longer, wider, and lower, and sits on a significantly stretched wheelbase. More cabin space is the immediate upshot.
In the lower ranges (VTi and VTi-L) propulsion is provided to the front wheels by a 1799cc (1.8-litre), i-VTEC, single-overhead cam, four-cylinder engine.
It produces 103kW of power at 6300rpm and 174Nm of torque at 4200rpm.
Honda says this powerplant is as frugal as a 1.5-litre and yet offers the power of a 2.0-litre unit.
More money buys the 2.0-litre Civic Sport, using a variation of the 1998cc (2.0-litre) twin-cam i-VTEC four-cylinder all-aluminium engine first seen locally in the 2001 Integra range.
In Civic duty it delivers 114kW at 6200rpm and 188Nm at 4200rpm.
Transmission choices are a five-speed manual or a new-to-Civic five-speed automatic.
Rivaling the popular Prius Hybrid is a Civic Hybrid.
Like the 2004/05 sedan of the same name, it uses a 1.3-litre i-DSI single-cam four-cylinder unit that’s mated with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) electric motor.
Many changes have been implemented, though. For starters, the regenerative braking is variable rather than fixed and it now can run on electric-only power during cruising under certain conditions.
The IMA’s power is up by 46 per cent and torque by 14 per cent, resulting in a combined output of 85kW at 6000rpm and 170Nm at 2500rpm. Previously it was 69kW at 5700rpm and 146Nm at 2000rpm.
More importantly fuel consumption falls, to a combined 4.6L/100km reading.
On all 2006 Civic sedans, Honda has carried over the previous model’s MacPherson strut-front and rear multi-link double wishbone set-up, but with detail alterations aimed in improving steering, handling and ride properties.
For 2007 Honda has given its Thai-built Civic sedan range a minor upgrade.
Extra equipment includes boot lining and an auxiliary input jack for using MP3 players through the stereo.
The VTi-L also gains 16-inch alloy wheels, while the Sport is now fitted with 17-inch alloys, including an alloy spare.
The middle of 2007 saw the return of the long-awaited Civic hatch – albeit in top-line Type R guise.
The British-built three-door hot hatch is a derivative of the five-door model, and is aimed at the likes of the Mazda3 MPS, Ford Focus XR5, Holden Astra SRi Turbo and Mini Cooper S.
Where the Japanese Civic Type R is a pared-down, weight-reduced four-door sedan that barely stops short of being race-ready, our Type R is based on the shorter wheelbase five-door hatch which differs in quite a few ways from the sedan we know here, not the least of which is its use of a torsion-beam rear axle in place of the sedan’s double-wishbone independent back-end.
Dimensionally, the hatch is different too, measuring 265mm shorter overall and running a wheelbase that, at 2635mm, is 65mm shorter than the stretched-out sedan. The Type R hatch also sits a little higher than the sedan and is fractionally wider in body and front and rear track measurements.
Understandably, the Type R is heavier than the Civic Sport sedan, but not by much.
The practicality of the hatch is underlined by the fact that it offers, even in the coupe-style Type R, a good boot able to contain as much as 485 litres with all seats in place, and 1352 litres to the window line when the split-fold rear seats are down.
And the wheelbase, even though not as lengthy as the sedan, is still quite good for its class, meaning there is ample room in the back seat as well.
However the practical aspects of the sporty Civic don’t count quite as highly as the tech specs.
Here, the new three-door Civic bristles with the best of Honda technology to ensure it delivers what the respected Type R nameplate promises.
The engine is a higher-tuned version of the 2.0-litre alloy four-cylinder seen in the sedan, punching out a healthy 148kW at 7800rpm (comparing with 114kW at 6200rpm for the sedan), along with a respectable 193Nm at what, at first, seems like a peaky 5600rpm until Honda tells you that 90 per cent of peak torque is already on hand by 2500rpm.
Honda has been using advanced valve control technology for longer than most car-makers and in this case the Type R engine gets variable timing for the inlet valves, as well as variable lift for both inlet and exhaust valves via twin-profile camshafts that increase lift at higher rpm.
The result is a tractable bottom-end for easy around-town driving and an eager top end that allows the Type R to spin willingly to an 8000rpm redline.
This engine is coupled to a close ratio six-speed transmission – no auto is offered – that extracts the most out of the eager 2.0-litre.
The upshot is that the Type R Civic will reach 100km/h from a standstill in a respectably swift 6.6 seconds and stop the clocks over a standing 400-metre sprint in just 14.8 seconds.
The Type R’s suspension is set to squat 15mm lower than the regular hatch, and the tracks have been bumped out by 20mm, while extra reinforcements in the body and the more rigidly mounted steering aim at giving a more racetrack oriented flavour.
The brakes, with four-channel ABS, electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist, are sizable 300mm ventilated discs at the front with solid 260mm rear discs.
Inside, the hatch picks up the two-level dash theme of the sedan and adds nicely grippy sports seats, "drilled" floor pedals and a leather-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel with buttons for operating the radio and the standard cruise control.
Equipment levels include dual front and side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, climate-control, cruise control and switchable VSA electronic stability control.
######In early 2009 Honda introduced a facelifted Civic sedan range, incorporating a range of minor improvements as well as the standard fitment of ESC stability control.
However, while the big news was the very late arrival of the long-awaited hatch version, its even larger price – from $38,990 for the manual Si five-door – proved to be a massive disappointment, ensuring tiny sales volumes.
Compared to the seventh-generation, 2000-2005 Civic Vi/VTi five-door hatch – this car’s direct predecessor – the 2009 Si is smaller, measuring at 4720mm and 1460mm in length and height respectively, but 65mm wider at 1765mm.
With room for five people, cabin space increases compared to the old Civic hatch despite the smaller dimensions, with the Jazz’s ‘Magic Seats’ fitted as a result of the fuel tank moving from beneath the rear seat to underneath the front ones.
The cargo’s total volume with the rear seats up is 415 litres.
At the other end of the Civic Si is a Euro4-compliant 1799cc 1.8-litre single-cam 16-valve i-VTEC four-cylinder engine familiar to UH Civic VTi sedan owners.
Running on 91 RON unleaded petrol, it delivers 103kW of power at 6300rpm and 174Nm of torque at 4300rpm to the front wheels via a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox. Honda expects 75 per cent of all buyers will want to have their gears shifted for them.
Steering is via an electric rack and pinion set-up, while a Torsion beam rear axle matches the MacPherson strut front suspension system. Brakes are 320mm ventilated discs up front and 305mm solid discs in the rear.
Aiding its five-star Euro NCAP crash test result is ESC (dubbed VSA in Honda-speak), ABS anti-lock brakes, EBD Electronic Brake-force Distribution, breakaway foot pedals, double pre-tensioner front seatbelts, dual front airbags, side airbags, and curtain airbags.
Reflecting its premium pricing, Honda has loaded the Civic Si with leather upholstery, dual zone automatic air-conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering, fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, rear parking sensors, cruise control and an alarm, among other features.