Buyer's Guide Drive and Review Sedans and Hatchbacks

(Go Flat Out Review) 2016 Honda Civic 1.8 E: Sweet Yet Guilt Free

*Note: The black grille is an aftermarket accessory. The 1.8 E comes standard with a chrome grille.

Don’t you just love desserts? I particularly like matcha, but what does matcha have to do with the all-new Honda Civic. If you are an impatient chap, you could simply scroll down and just see why, but no one simply watches Rogue One straight to the end just to find out what happens to Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, right? Anyway, the automobile was designed in the late 1800s for one thing only, and that is, to transport us from A to B faster than horses could. Nothing more, nothing less. If we considers cars as merely a method of transportation, our world will be very boring indeed both to car enthusiasts and to other people, and that is a lesson that Honda has learned in designing the all-new Honda Civic. As an owner of the 9th generation (FB) Civic, I can clearly tell the difference between driving my Civic and this all-new, 10th (FC) generation Civic, and what changes Honda has made.The Honda Civic has always fulfilled a sort of jack-of-all-trades role. Sporty, but not impractical for family or daily use, yet is also reliable enough to merit it as a staple car in our world, but when Honda developed the FB (9th generation) Civic, they were on a confused track under Takanobu Ito’s leadership. The FB Civic generation, while it still had a little fun dialed in, it was a greatly less fun car than its predecessors, while being more sensible and practical, following the philosophy of fulfilling its role as daily transportation. With the Mazda 3 knocking out the Civic in every possible way, Honda needs to step up its A-game and bring back the Civic’s role as merely another mode of transportation.

Exterior

And its transformation starts in its all-new exterior design. My Civic could actually be mistaken for the 8th generation Civic, and in Honda’s pursuit of addressing that, they created an all-new, clean sheet design, and it really has paid off. This all-new Civic is the best looking it has ever been. Even this base (if you could call it that) 1.8 E is blessed with upmarket features such as full-LED headlamps, LED tail lights, 16-inch two tone alloy wheels, and a body that looks more European than Japanese. Most of the world’s greatest looking cars have one thing in common, long hoods. This design makes a car evoke power and authority, especially from the side where it looks even nicer, and seems to carry that “rear wheel drive” look. It’s a formula that no other car company than Mazda has pulled off nicely, winning design awards in the process. The Civic’s wheel arches that flare from the A-pillar to the headlights add depth to its fascia, while a sloping coupe-like roofline elegantly flows to the back, and yet despite the Civic’s beautiful silhouette, it still manages to create enough space for 3 adults in the back. At night, the tail lights look nothing short of spectacular, with all my friends staring in awe at the C-shaped LED tail lights. The black grille piece up front is an aftermarket accessory, and it somehow provides a nice contrast to the White Orchid Peal finish rather the standard large slab of chrome.

Interior

Whereas the exterior has flowing lines and taut curves, the interior is more angular and more conventional than its predecessor. Gone is the two-tier instrument cluster, now replaced by a more traditional arrangement, but that’s where the traditional look ends. Housed inside the instrument binnacle is a full-color TFT LCD instrument cluster that is reminiscent of starting up the Enterprise from Star Trek. It’s a great ceremony of welcome animations, gauges, and dials coming into place ready to relay all the information you need as you drive. Commanding the Civic is a great experience, because all the materials feel great and have a hefty feeling. My slight complaints are the cheap materials found in the lower parts of the cabin, but other than that, there’s plenty of space, and thanks to the electronic parking brake freeing up space in the center console, there’s a ginormous center console bin, which large enough to store a 12-inch iPad Pro.

Space and Practicality

The all-new Civic not only manages to be better looking than its predecessor, but it also manages to be very practical as well. Aside from the aforementioned ginormous center console bin, the glove box, door bins, and trunk are all large for this class of vehicle. Despite the Civic’s sloping roofline, the rear seats still have enough space for 3 adults. There’s generous amounts of leg, head, and shoulder room for everyone to move around despite the center tunnel. If you need to carry longer items, 60:40 split folding rear seats come as standard.

Features

This 1.8 E Honda Civic, despite being the base of the range, should prove to be the pick of most people. Not a lot of features separate the 1.8 E from the 1.5 RS Turbo, and it starts with the aforementioned automatic LED head and tail lights with LED daytime running lights, rain sensing wipers, automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reverse camera, electronic parking brake with brake hold function, and a host of other safety features such as Hill Start Assist, ABS with EBD, Emergency Stop Signal (a feature which flashes the signal lights when the Civic brakes really hard).

Let’s talk about Apple CarPlay for a minute, because this Civic is one of the first in the Philippines to have this feature as standard alongside Android Auto. Smartphone integration into the car has never been so important, because we are so hooked with our smartphones in our everyday lives. Since I use an iPhone 7 Plus, the Smartphone Integration lights up as Apple CarPlay in the Honda Display Audio system. Despite the 1.8 E having no navigation, Apple Maps can be used and becomes integrated into the infotainment system. As for Spotify, my songs appear in the display, complete with the title and the album artwork, which can also be seen in the instrument cluster. This system also integrates Siri into the car’s voice command, and makes the whole operation of the infotainment system as easy as your smartphone. This is why the release of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, because these Smartphone Integration features utilize a similar user interface as your smartphone, making the system easy and fuss free to use.

Powertrain

This being the 1.8 E variant, this is not powered by the small 1.5 liter VTEC Turbo engine that produces 172 hp. Instead, this gets a more conventional 1.8 liter naturally aspirated petrol engine, which is the R18Z1 i-VTEC SOHC engine carried over from the previous generation. It produces 139 hp @ 6,500 pm and 174 Nm of torque @ 4,500 rpm. The transmission is mated solely to an Earth Dreams CVT with Sport Mode (S in the gear selector), but no paddle shifters.

How It Drives

This all-new Honda Civic has a clean sheet design from the platform, suspension, structure, and other components. Almost nothing is shared from past Civics, and its only good for Honda to start fresh. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be strange for Honda to even rename the Civic because of this. Being a clean sheet design introduces a host of improvements to the driving experience, and let’s start with its role as a mode of transportation from A to B. The engineers at Honda have benchmarked the Audi A3 for its ride and handling characteristics, and while it does feel anything but an Audi A3, it does come close. The new platform utilizes higher strength steel, making the body 68 lbs lighter than its predecessor, whilst improving rigidity. Passing over some cracked and lifted concrete that the roads around Laguna Boulevard are notorious for due to the trailers regularly passing by, the greatly improved NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels are felt. Driving my Civic and this Civic back to back on this road, and the more composed ride of the new Civic is immediately felt. Small, sharp bumps and expansion joints do not upset the Civic’s ride anymore. Travelling on coarse, rough tarmac immediately shows the improved sound insulation that has been implemented in this new Civic, with noticeably less road noise and wind noise creeping into the cabin. Despite the rakish and sleek appearance of the new Civic, visibility has not been compromised, a typical Honda trait of being able to eke out great visibility in literally almost all of their cars. Thin roof pillars make it a doddle to see out of when crossing junctions.

CVT transmission are notorious for its rubber band feel, wherein the engine constantly revs until you get up to speed, as there is of course an absence of gears in a Continuously Variable Transmission, but Honda’s CVTs have been engineered to do their best in mimicking a traditional torque converter automatic transmission. This also enables the Civic to have great fuel consumption, which is at 9 km/l in the city, and 16 km/l on the highway, for an average of 12 km/l, which is slightly better than my usual in my 1.8 EXI Civic’s at 11 km/l average.

So now we’ve established that as a daily mode of transportation, the all-new Civic has been greatly improved, but how about the sporty and fun to drive nature that the Civic has lost in the past generation? Well, I am happy to report that this all-new Civic is a step in the right direction for Honda. While it never feels as sporty as the Mazda 3, it still does not disappoint, with a heftier steering feel than the overly light steering from my Civic. This is due to a new variable gear ratio electric power steering system that enables it to be light in city driving, and hefty when driven fast, useful when throwing this car in and out of corners. The Civic remains unfazed, with a more planted and substantial feel than the Civic it replaces. The increased chassis rigidity has not only greatly improved ride comfort, but also its handling prowess as the new Civic feels tighter and more solid when going through tight bends. Powering out of the corner, and the CVT does a better job of sending power to the wheels than the 5-Speed automatic transmission it replaces. In Sport Mode, the CVT is able to hold revs, even able to add stepped ratios that mimic a traditional torque converter automatic, providing a sportier, more natural feel when accelerating in and out of corners or overtaking on expressways. What Honda has managed to achieve here is a car that is more comfortable yet more fun to drive than the car it replaces, traits that the Honda Civic has always been known for in years past.

On The Downside

While this Civic feels faster than the previous generation of the Civic with the same engine, there are times that the transmission still feels lethargic when overtaking. It is solved if the transmission is in Sport Mode (S), but for the most part, it does not feel as connected and as engaging as the Skyactiv Drive 6-Speed Automatic from the Mazda 3’s. Speaking of the Mazda 3, the Hiroshima-based manufacturer still manages to make the sportier car among the two, with a tighter steering ratio and quicker reflexes than the all-new Civic when thrown around corners.

Being picky now, the controls for the automatic climate control system in my opinion took a step back. What used to be a one step process now takes two or more steps. In order to dive in to the deeper settings of the climate control system, it now means you have to go through another menu, whereas this should only be a one step process. Lastly, see the electrostatic controls for the volume in the all-new Civic? It looks cool doesn’t it? You simply swipe up or down to change the volume. Well, I initially thought it was cool too, until I learned it the hard way that the volume control system is very sensitive to accidental swipes. One circumstance involved blasting the volume from 10 to 25 real quick, blaring my ears with a very loud tone from The Weeknd’s Starboy playing through Spotify.

Verdict

Honda has clearly had some missteps in the past, and this new Civic is a reassurance that Honda is headed in the right direction. Remember that the Honda Civic was not known merely as a mode of transportation. It’s more than that. The Civic manages to fulfill both, which is why there is a sub-culture of Civic owners around the world who share the same sentiments, and we’d like Honda to keep it that way. This new Civic then, is not just a mode of transportation. It manages to provide a fun driving experience once again. Think of it as a matcha dessert. I like matcha, some of my friends like it too, and other don’t like it at all. It clearly has its niches. Some people like it, some people hate it, but those who like matcha know that just like the Honda Civic, it manages to be somewhat healthy, and yet it tastes so good. Don’t you just love being able to have your matcha cake and eat it guilt-free? Okay, fine, a lot of matcha desserts are not as healthy as pure matcha, but it is still definitely healthier than a dessert that uses chemical sugar substitutes. For P1,088,000, the 1.8 E is already a sweet, guilt-free package. One that is somewhat sporty, yet it remains one of the most practical choices. Unless a faster sedan is what you seek, that’s where the 1.5 RS Turbo comes in.

More Photos

Our Rating

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

Overall: 4.6 out of 5

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2 comments on “(Go Flat Out Review) 2016 Honda Civic 1.8 E: Sweet Yet Guilt Free

  1. I can’t seem to make apple carplay work in my civic. I have an iphone 6 running ios 10.2. Any tips? Thanks.

    • Isaac Atienza

      Hi! Do note that your iPhone must be connected via the USB port under the center stack near the HDMI port, because Apple CarPlay does not work via Bluetooth. Simply connecting your iPhone into the USB should make the Apple CarPlay option appear in the Display Audio’s home screen. Hope this helps.

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