Kudos to Honda. In a day and age where CUVs and SUVs are ruling the roads, it is nice to see that this engineering-lead company is still willing to put its engineering and marketing dollars into a two door car.
According to the company’s research, customers who end up with coupes feel that the absence of the rear doors suggests that not only does the car possess a sporty persona, but that the driver does as well. No surprise there that these buyers are primarily seduced by styling and image, and less by practicality.
So the big question is whether the new Civic coupe lives up to this supposed persona. Does it feel more dynamic than its edgy pseudo-fastback looking sedan? We’re here to find out.
What has changed, and what hasn’t
Obviously the coupe is shorter than its sedan sibling; by up to 5.4 inches in fact. And accordingly, the overhangs have also diminished even more, mostly chopped out of the rear.
But the coupe shares the sedan’s 106.3 inch wheelbase, which means a significant gain of 3.1 inches versus the previous generation Civic coupe. The new car also sits almost an inch lower than the sedan, with a much wider track at 60.9 inches up front, and 61.5 inches aft.
For those of you with the previous generation car, the new coupe is actually an inch shorter than its predecessor.
Despite higher levels of equipment, there is much more extensive use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel in the new car, and so overall weight remains about the same, if not slightly reduced by anywhere from 10 to 20 lbs.
As with previous Civics, the coupe follows the sedan’s powertrain line-up. This means a choice of a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine with 158 hp and 138 lbs-ft of torque, and Honda’s much ballyhooed new 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder engine.
This sweet mill of an engine is offered only on the higher trim Civic coupes, such as my “Touring” edition test vehicle. Producing 174 hp and 162 lbs-ft of torque, this "Earth Dreams" engine is able to brag about its torque, which peaks at a low 1,700 rpms.
For comparison, the Honda S2000’s 2.2-litre 4-cylinder had to scream all the way to 6,500 rpms to produce an equivalent amount of twist. Hardly practical in day-to-day traffic.
There is a small amount of turbo lag, but once the turbo spools up, forward momentum builds up quickly. Leave the gearshift lever in Sport mode, and the turbo spools up even quicker.
As typical with any CVT through, there is a little bit of the slipping-clutch sensation that accompanies transmission of this nature. However, most Civic drivers will probably appreciate the gains in fuel efficiency in exchange for a bit of loss in sportiness.
Those who are looking for a manual transmission Civic will have to opt for the base model Civic Coupe LX trim level for now. Honda has promised that the turbo engine will soon also be available with the stick shift gearbox.
Speaking of fuel efficiency, the Civic Coupe Touring is rated at 7.5L/100 kms in the city, and 5.6L/100 kms on the highway. The manual transmission Civic Coupe LX is rated at 8.9L/100 kms in the city, and 6.1L/100 kms on the highway.
Sedan versus Coupe, what’s different?
While the coupe’s acceleration feels perhaps only slightly more spritely than a similarly optioned out sedan, you won’t need a race track to appreciate its sportier tuning.
Attack your favourite mountain switchback and you’ll appreciate the quick variable-ratio (2.2 turns lock-to-lock) steering and the stiffer dampers and springs. My top-of-the-range Touring model was equipped not only with firmer dampening and increased front roll stiffness, but also with hydraulic rear bushings for better road isolation and lighter wheels for reduced unsprung weight.
The latter two refinements are unique to only the EX-L and Touring trim lines.
Despite the different tuning, the coupe’s distinctly firmer suspension is still compliant enough to isolate its occupants from crappy roads. Honda’s engineers also paid attention to its customers’ complaints about road noise. With extensively increased sound dampening, the new coupe raises the bar in its class.
Loaded with enough tech to make a luxury car blush
Inside, the Civic shares its dashboard, sporty low seating position, and touchscreen infotainment system with its sedan sibling. While the rear seat is certainly smaller than the sedan’s, there is enough room for an averaged sized adult male.
In fact, it’s surprisingly spacious, with five-foot, ten-inch adults being able to sit naturally and comfortably in the rear.
A quick look at the specs explains why. Rear legroom is up by more than 5 inches compared to the previous generation Civic coupe, and overall interior space by up to 8.4 cu.ft
Choose the Touring trim Civic, and you’ll get a car loaded with convenience and safety technology that would make a German luxury car blush.
The Civic Coupe in Touring trim is equipped with active cruise control (which can brake the car down to a full stop), a blindspot camera, collision mitigation system, and lane departure warning. It even has full LED headlamps (both high and low beam), Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto!
Most impressively, Honda Canada has even chosen to equip the Civic with a semi-autonomous steering system, which can “assist” the driver through the turns via its electric power steering system!
For all of this to be available on a compact non-luxury coupe is ridiculously good value for money, and once again goes to show customers what an engineering lead company Honda is at its core.
Sure, it’s true that the new Civic coupe’s design isn’t too radical. But take one look at the lower roof and flared wheel arches and it certainly stands out from the oodles of other Civics on the road.
With the myriad of improvements introduced in this latest generation Civic coupe, there is perhaps little doubt that the Civic will continue to be Canada’s top-selling vehicle for many more years to come.