Win­ning for­mula

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - FRONT PAGE - By Graeme Fletcher

COLLING­WOOD, Ont. — The out­go­ing Honda Civic, which was in­tro­duced in 2012 and re­worked in 2013 be­cause of the lack­lus­tre re­sponse to its re­design, is be­ing rein­vented yet again. This time, it is a com­plete makeover that touches every­thing be­tween the bumpers. As such, the 10th-gen­er­a­tion sedan should serve to main­tain the sta­tus quo and keep the Civic as Canada’s favourite car, as it has been for the past 17 years — soon to be 18.

Stylis­ti­cally, the new Civic adopts a much sharper look with de­tail in its curves. The face is bold with avail­able LED head­lights, the side pro­file is sleek, the tail is taut and it, too, gets LED light­ing. Now if only the colour pal­ette were as ex­pres­sive — two whites, a cou­ple of sil­vers, bur­gundy, black and a new blue are your op­tions. Sadly, Can- ada does not get the racy red the U.S. en­joys.

The Civic is both larger and stronger than the out­go­ing model. The over­all length in­creases by 75 mil­lime­tres, it is 126 mm wider and now rides on a 2,700-mm wheel­base. The plus is the plat­form is also 25 per cent stiffer, in spite of the car be­ing 31 kilo­grams lighter and larger over­all.

The Civic’s in­te­rior takes sig­nif­i­cant steps for­ward. First, the con­tro­ver­sial two-tier in­stru­men­ta­tion is gone — thank you, Honda! The new look, which is pri­mar­ily dig­i­tal, is much eas­ier to com­pre­hend. It also adds an aura of rich­ness to the soft-touch-lined cabin.

The driver’s lot is also bet­ter than be­fore. Sit­ting proudly atop the cen­tre stack is a seven-inch screen that houses the au­dio and cli­mate func­tions. It also em­braces the no­tion of a “smart” car; Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto have been in­te­grated in a re­mark­ably friendly man­ner. Both plat­forms bring the smart­phone into the car and blend two di­ver­gent tech­nolo­gies into one, which gives easy ac­cess to any­thing your phone can do, apps and all. If there is a cabin-re­lated com­plaint, it lies in the re­flec­tion in the back win­dow as seen through the rear-view mir­ror; I found it dis­tract­ing.

Honda adds ameni­ties with each step up the Civic lad­der. The $15,990 DX is pretty ba­sic; it skips air con­di­tion­ing but it does get a rear-view cam­era. For $18,890, the LX adds the seven-inch screen and all the giz­mos, along with air con­di­tion­ing, heated front seats, cruise con­trol and 60/40-split fold­ing rear seat. The EX ($22,590) adds dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, a sun­roof, smart key ac­cess with push-but­ton start and Honda’s clever LaneWatch cam­era, which puts the view of the right side of the car on the seven-inch screen.

Mean­while, the EX-L ($24,990) brings a new en­gine, fog lights and 17-inch wheels, along with the Honda Sens­ing suite of safety fea­tures. The pack­age counts a num­ber of ac­tive safety gad­gets as ex­ten­sions, in­clud­ing a lane-keep as­sist sys­tem, which steers the car to keep it in the lane. The top-level $26,990 Tour­ing brings every­thing, in­clud­ing wire­less phone charg­ing, LED head­lights, GPS nav­i­ga­tion, power-ad­justable front seats, heated rear seats and a sweet-sound­ing 450-watt au­dio sys­tem.

The 2016 Civic’s pow­er­trains have been com­pletely re­vised. There is a new 2.0-litre en­gine — which re­places the out­go­ing 1.8-L four-cylin­der — de­liv­er­ing 158 horse­power and 138 pound-feet of torque. It’s avail­able with a six-speed man­ual or op­tional con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion (CVT). With the lat­ter, this com­bi­na­tion took, ac­cord­ing to my hand-held stop­watch, 9.9 sec­onds to run from rest to 100 km/h. The claimed fuel econ­omy is 7.8 L/100 km in the city and 5.8 on the high­way, not bad from either per­spec­tive and likely good enough for most shop­pers.

Even bet­ter, how­ever, is the roll­out of a new 1.5-L tur­bocharged four-cylin­der, which makes a much more re­ward­ing 174 hp and, more im­por­tantly, 162 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,800 r.p.m. Off the line, the tur­bocharged Civic pulls strongly and with lit­tle in the way of turbo lag. Once mov­ing, it piles on the speed with spirit, run­ning from rest to 100 km/h in 7.9 sec­onds. This work ethic brings a sur­pris­ingly sporty feel to a four-door com­pact sedan. If there is a nit to pick, it is that a buyer must move far up the trim-level lad­der to get this sweet mill. Bring­ing it down to the LX level would ap­peal to those who ap­pre­ci­ate the Civic for what

GRAEME FLETCHER / POST­MEDIA NET­WORK INC. 2015

The new Civic is a vast im­prove­ment on an al­ready good car. High­lights in­clude a richer cabin, so­phis­ti­cated tech­nolo­gies and a bet­ter pow­er­train lineup.

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