Honda Euro Civic L Auto 2012 Review

Honda Euro Civic L Auto 2012 Review

Take one Civic, replace 70% of it and inject some slightly more confronting design language and you have the Euro Civic. It’s a Civic-sized car with Civic sensibilities, but designed (and positioned) so that Italian playboys will buy one for their mistress.

Honda has struggled recently with its brand image, and the problems with supply that resulted from the Japanese tsunami didn’t help. This car is going to inject a bit more design excitement into the range – something that’s been carried recently only

by the CRZ.

This point was rammed home to me when I went to pick up a friend. I’d told her I’d be in a Civic and when she finally got in the car she said, ‘You didn’t tell me it was a sports car.’

Despite its sporty looks it comes with a strictly sensible, Euro-spec engine. The 1.8-litre i-VTEC produces 104kW and 174Nm. Plump for the manual and the company’s figures are 6.1l/100km. Go for the auto and it’s 6.5l/100km. The manual ‘box version comes with Hill Start Assist to stop you rolling backwards on hill starts, and the automatic version has paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

Honda has retained its two-tier instrument cluster and it sits perfectly in a dashboard that wraps around you, integrating with the door trim. The dash features the integrated stereo, the display of which is embedded quite a way from the driver (in a recess in the centre-top of the dashboard), but in a place that allows you to keep half an eye on the road. The rest of the controls fall easily to-hand, and there are duplicate controls for some functions on the steering wheel.

In the back there is adequate legroom and some trick folding seats called Magic Seating. Because the fuel tank doesn’t sit underneath the rear seats, you can fold them up which gives a space big enough to fit a bike or other tall, ungainly loads behind the front seats, or you can fold them down in split arrangement to give up to 1210 litres of load space in the boot. Therefore you probably don’t need a boxy little compact SUV or a station wagon.

The front seats have excellent bolstering and good lateral grip – something that was a bit painful for me as I’d just cracked a rib so would have liked something with a bench seat made of cotton wool and Birman fur.

To drive, it’s no fuss whatsoever, except that you’ll need to get used to the indicator stalk being on the left (betraying its European market). At motorway cruising speeds there is very little engine or wind noise. This may be because our motorway cruising speeds are slow compared to Europe and that it’s tuned to still be quiet at up to 120-150kph, which would be more typical speeds, particularly in Germany. It’s also helped by some strategic sound deadening work.

The Euro Civic has an almost flat undertray to help with wind resistance. The coefficient of drag has been reduced by 8% over the previous model Civic, and fuel consumption has improved over 13%.

The engine will get the car to 100kph in what feels like 8.5-9 seconds, the handling is benign and evolves into predictable understeer if you really push it. The steering is light but still positive.

So, we’ve got a car that’s built for the European market to compete with the styling that European marques such as Alfa Romeo spearhead. Squint a bit at the Euro Civic and you might even see a hint of Brera. It has hit the nail on the head as regards competing with the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf, offering styling that clearly differentiates it, plus a level of specification which matches them at a price that is appealing.

Price: Entry level model (1.8S) is $32,900. This model is $38,900.

Pros:

  • Strong looks
  • Good safety features – plenty of airbags and lots of electronics
  • Flexible storage options

Cons:

  • Front and rear pillars are quite thick – take care when maneouvring if you don’t have the version with a reversing camera.

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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