ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS PREVIEWS THE NEW HONDA CIVIC
Honda has had a Civic in the line-up since 1972; the first was a two door coupe, soon to be followed by a three door hatchback. Throughout its history, it has become a major player for the Japanese carmaker. Sporting derivatives became an important addition such as the Type R and now news of a new model which has been engineered to ensure that its e:HEV powertrain, steering and suspension deliver the engaging levels of performance, dynamic response and feedback central to the appeal of the new model.
The Civic, from the word go, was recognised very much as a driver’s car and certainly the Honda engineers have worked to keep that tradition going. The result is a car that delivers a rewarding driving experience with highly competitive efficiency and emissions. Away from everyday motoring, the Civic has found fame in motorsport, both rallying and racing and it has starred on many occasions in the BTCC. The 11th generation Civic will be available later this year and is the final mainstream Honda model to be electrified, following the CR-V, Honda e, Jazz, Jazz Crosstar, and HR-V. The new Civic will feature the most advanced iteration of the brand’s award-winning e:HEV full-hybrid powertrain, which combines a power-dense lithium-ion battery and two compact, powerful electric motors with a newly-developed two litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, which achieves industry-best equaling 41% thermal efficiency and features a direct injection system optimised for faster and more efficient combustion and improved torque. In addition to direct injection system, a number of technologies such as low temperature active catalyst, and a modified design on intake port help contribute to better fuel economy whilst achieving specific output; this is something we all desire with the high cost of fuel. The result of these technological advancements is a WLTP ‘Combined’ CO2 emission figure of just 108g/km, with fuel economy an equally impressive 4.7l/100km. This exceptional efficiency is combined with a maximum power output of 135kW/ 184PS and 315Nm maximum torque. This efficiency and energy management has been achieved through the application of innovative new technologies; the latest version of Honda’s Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) is 23mm flatter and 1kg lighter than previous iterations, but with a higher cell count of 72 which is the largest fitted to any of the current Honda e:HEV range. The slim line IPU sits under the rear seats, maximising interior space and usability.
A new Power Control Unit (PCU), located under the bonnet, enables the faster charge and discharge of electricity, contributing a further 12% increase in power output over previous e:HEV applications. The advanced powertrain ensures seamless shifts between EV, hybrid and engine drive with no input from the driver. There are four drive modes; Eco, Normal, Sport and a new Individual mode which can be selected by the driver to tailor the vehicle’s response in the area of powertrain, steering and display. This engaging flexibility is underpinned with exceptional levels of refinement, with attention paid to eliminating unwanted noise and vibration. The new .Civic e:HEV has been developed with a focus on steering response and feedback, heightening the driver’s sense of connection with the car. Improved stability in a straight line and over uneven road surfaces has been achieved thanks to a 35mm longer wheelbase and an 18mm wider rear track compared to the car’s predecessor. Cornering stability and overall input response has been further improved with increased body rigidity and the application of low friction ball joints and revised front dampers; combining to enhance the dynamic feel. To deliver real driving pleasure and response a new control logic, ‘winding control’, ensures that the internal combustion engine’s operation is maintained during cornering on twisting roads. This enables the new model to deliver instant acceleration and the additional torque and electric drive provides powerful overtaking acceleration when at high speed but with reduced engine revving noise, for relaxed long-distance travel. I hope to bring first drive impressions when the newcomer hits our shores.