(Go Flat Out REVIEW) 2012 Honda Civic 1.8 EXI: Sensibilities

Every car manufacturer has it’s own bread and butter model. BMW for instance, has the 3 Series, Toyota with the Corolla. Honda, of course, has its bread and butter model, the Honda Civic. When the 8th generation Civic was introduced, it was a huge leap forward in design, quality and driving dynamics over the 7th generation. How does this new Civic stack up then?

Exterior

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Design wise, not much as changed over the previous model, it’s still sleek, but more conservative and elegant rather than all out sporty. First catching my attention would be the handsome grille and projector headlights. The rear design reminds me of the Accord because of its rear lights. Notice that most of the time, Asian Hondas are much better looking than the USDM ones? The USDM Civic has multi-reflector type headlamps instead of projector type. Minor details that make a car look better. Well it’s basically my opinion.

Interior

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If you have owned or driven the 8th generation Civic, the interior is familiar. You will see a more grown up yet sleeker interior. The design is still positively futuristic and driver focused, as the cockpit is angled towards the driver. Honda has one of the best driving positions, and this is no exception. Honda’s Man Maximum, Machine Minimum principle is evident in designing this car. The C-pillar design has been refined so that it has more glass area, therefore better rear visibility.

Space and Practicality

The 8th generation Civic already has a spacious interior, and this new one even feels a bit more spacious. Despite the wheelbase being shortened, Honda has managed to give rear passengers an inch or two more legroom, proof that Honda is still one of the best at managing interior space. As for practicality, it has a spacious boot, and the seats do fold flat. Kudos to the Civic’s 60-40 split rear seat, as they are still rare in the local compact car class.

Features

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When it comes to features, the Civic does not disappoint. Because of the floods in Thailand, Honda’s Ayutthaya plant stopped operating for a while. This limited edition 1.8 EXI is a CBU from Japan, and it has many toys. A 5-inch i-MID (Intelligent Multi Information Display) displays different content such as vital car information, the clock or wallpaper, your calls, and multimedia. Car settings are also customized in the i-MID, such as how long will the headlights stay on upon unlocking the car and/or turning off the ignition. When reversing, a back-up camera displays onto the i-MID whatever is behind you. It also has guidelines so that parking does not become a chore. Cruise control puts the stress out of driving long distances. Look onto the left of the steering column, you’ll see a green ECON button. It activates ECON mode, which changes the car’s throttle mapping and air conditioning system, promoting a more fuel-efficient drive. The two bars on the speedometer change colors. Green indicates fuel efficient throttle input and blue indicates aggressive throttle input.

Powertrain

Powering the Honda Civic 1.8 EXI is a revised 1.8 liter SOHC i-VTEC engine. It produces 141 PS at 6500 rpm and 173 Nm at 4300 rpm, the same with its predecessor though with lower internal friction and other small improvements. A 5-speed automatic is the transmission in this model, though an automatic w/ paddle shifters and a manual are available for the Thai built models, as Honda’s plant in Thailand is now operational after the floods.

How It Drives

Two improvements caught my attention while driving the all-new Honda Civic. Compared to the FD Civic, this new one is more comfortable, starting with the seats. I found the rear lumbar padding of the 8th generation Civic to be too aggressive for my taste. These new seats are much more comfortable. The suspension also deals with bumps much better over the previous model, which gives it a more refined ride. There is still road noise in the cabin, but it is a bit more muted than the FD’s. This means that the all-new Honda Civic is a much better long distance cruiser, and will eat up the highway miles in relative comfort.

The second improvement to talk about is fuel efficiency. The 1.8 liter i-VTEC engine may be the same, but software and engine management tweaks rendered the 1.8 liter engine to be more fuel efficient. My average fuel consumption was *11 km/l, which includes city, highway, and sporty driving. Efficient figures considering that I even managed to be lead footed. Part of the reason is that, I used ECON mode in the highway. If you want to overtake someone, it is recommended that you should turn off that feature, since the engine, transmission, and drive-by-wire system are biased towards fuel efficiency. ECON mode does work very well though.

The Honda Civic can also hold its own when it comes to driving it in some twisty winding country roads. The steering is precise and nicely weights up as you go faster. The engine is aso responsive to the driver’s throttle inputs, and the brakes are progressive, but can sometimes feel faded after long hours of driving in these roads.

 On The Downside

Focusing too much on efficiency and comfort does have a price to pay. Acceleration remains the same with the old Civic, but because of Honda’s focus on fuel efficiency when developing the Civic, I have noticed that the 5-speed automatic is a lot less willing to downshift unlike its predecessor with a 5-speed automatic (1.8 V). This problem is solved when buying the Thai built models with paddle shifters or the one with a manual transmission, but you will be losing Bluetooth, cruise control, and reverse camera.

The second problem would be the handling. Make no mistake, it’s more fun to drive than a Corolla Altis, and it has more steering feel over the Elantra, but unlike previous Civics, this generation focused more on comfort and fuel efficiency. It may be a good thing, but it’s not as tossable as previous Civics, since body lean is more pronounced. The 2.0 EL is a bit sportier because of the bigger rims and grippier tires, then again, you have to loose some features, such as the Bluetooth, back-up camera, and cruise control. If you want the most fun to drive and sporty compact sedan, you probably want to check out the Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza, and the Mitsubishi Lancer EX GT-A.

The interior is another point to talk about too. It isn’t as high quality as the FD’s. If you don’t know what I mean, upon closer inspection, the plastics are hard, and the graining doesn’t help it either. Older Civics had soft touch materials, regardless of trim level. You’d have to opt for the 1.8E and 2.0 EL for that.

Verdict

Overall, the Civic is a good car. It may be better, but it’s not a huge leap forward over its predecessor. There are 2 areas where the new Civic suffered. A bit on the handling, and mostly on downgraded interior materials. The compact car segment has gotten fierce over the years, because unlike before where there are only a few good compact cars on the market, there are now plenty to choose from, and the gap from the competition has narrowed. At PHP 1,074,000, it may be a bit expensive when compared to the competition, but you have the features exclusive to this limited edition model, and for the Made in Japan fans out there, grab one while stocks last, as vehicles built in Japan command a higher resale value over the Civics that are built in Thailand.

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Rating

Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Quality: ★★★☆☆
Features: ★★★★☆
Acceleration: ★★★★☆
Handling: ★★★☆☆
Comfort: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆

OVERALL: 3.78 out of 5

See Also:

2012 Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS AT
2014 Mazda 3 (Double DR/VE)

*Fuel consumption results may vary depending on conditions and the driver itself.

For more questions, you can contact me at Twitter. @socallmeEK