- Published: Saturday, 11 June 2016 01:49
A new Honda Civic is bound to make waves, but this time a turbo model looks set to really make a splash. Does it live up to the hype?
Words Chris Wee
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND — It’s not just Singapore that’s keen to see the new Honda Civic. The Internet has been absolutely abuzz with hype about the tenth-generation car, in particular of course, the 1.5L DOHC VTEC Turbo. It’s the one everyone’s talking about, and is likely to serve as the halo model for the Civic.
Even if most people don’t buy the range-topping Turbo RS in the end (and go for the 1.6 i-VTEC model instead) it’ll be the one that they secretly want.
With 173hp and 220Nm of torque coming from a 1.5-litre DOHC VTEC Direct-Injection engine, it’s not to be taken lightly. However, those expecting fireballs-out-the-flanks type performance might want to sit down, right about now.
Let’s set the scene properly. While it is by no means slow, the Civic Turbo is not a four-door spiritual sibling of the S2000 or NSX. Actually, it can’t and shouldn’t be.
We have to remember that the Civic is mostly the kind of car that appeals to a large and varied spectrum of buyers, and this includes families, newlyweds, singles, uni-grads with their first job, retirees, first-time car buyers, and so on.
Were Honda to develop the new turbo’ed Civic just for boy racers, can you fathom just how much market share they’d have lost by doing so?
Instead, what they’ve done is used forced-induction on a small capacity engine and given it the kind of performance that one would need a 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated engine to match, but with lower fuel-consumption and emissions than the latter.
This build-philosophy of catering to a wide selection of buyers is quite evident in the way the Civic Turbo puts the power down. Forget ‘whooshing’ sounds and spitting blow-off valves, the Civic Turbo is all about refinement, and a super-smooth power delivery.
Acceleration is quite rapid from standstill, and superb NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) suppression will see triple-digit speeds being achieved unnoticed, despite the use of a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).
The CVT is equipped with a torque-converter, and has a ‘Sport’ mode with paddle-shifters, allowing it to mimic a twin-clutch gearbox and add a modicum of driving fun. Slotting the gear-stalk in ‘S’ immediately ups the revs by 2,000rpm, as the car gets ready to be driven hard.
Speaking of driving hard, the Civic Turbo does an admirable job of maintaining a comfortable drive, but not at the expense of proper handling characteristics when the roads get twisty.
At times you do detect a bit of turbo lag, especially during roll-on acceleration and if the ‘D’ drive-mode is selected, so unlike with other CVTs it’s actually more satisfying to play with the ‘paddles’ and physically downshift to a lower ratio for better acceleration.
Where the new Civic Turbo will win its most fans though is in the styling and design department. There’s no other to way to put it, but even though styling is a subjective matter, the tenth-generation Civic is a stunner.
As is often the case, photos do it little justice, because the car looks much better in the metal. It’s low and wide, sleek and sporty, seemingly able to seamlessly infuse sportiness with sophistication into a very attractive package.
Its exterior looks are further complemented by an interior that’s going to redefine this segment, with added conveniences and safety features like six-airbags, remote-start capability, a walk-away auto-lock function, electronic parking-brake, hill-start assist, a brake-hold function (which is especially useful in traffic jams), vehicle stability-control and emergency-stop signal.
All in all, Honda has another winner on its hands with the tenth-generation Civic, particularly with the new turbo engine. It’s bound to please the die-hards fans of the model, as well as win it some new admirers as well, seeing as how in its segment you’d be hard-pressed to find something this well put-together that looks as good as it does.
NEED TO KNOW Honda Civic Turbo RS
Engine 1,498cc, 16V, turbo in-line 4
Power 173hp at 5500rpm
Torque 220Nm from 1,700 to 5500rpm
Top Speed 225km/h (estimated)
0-100km/h 7.0 seconds (estimated)
Fuel efficiency 6.0L/100km (estimated)
CO2 140g/km (estimated)
Price $127,999 with COE
Availability August 2016 (est)