Test Drives

Honda Civic 1.6 2016 Review: Civic Rights

By being one of the most impressive cars of 2016, the Honda Civic rights the wrongs of its past

SINGAPORE — The all-new, 10th-generation Honda Civic was launched here yesterday, with the Singapore price starting at $110,999 with COE for the 1.6-litre model you see here. It replaces a car that made more of a dribble than a splash in the market. Does it have what it takes to do better? Read on… 

Wow, this is the new Honda Civic? Wait, what’d the old one look like?
The previous, ninth-gen Civic bombed in Singapore because it focused overly on fuel economy and, when launched here, had to contend with ridiculous Certificate Of Entitlement (COE) prices. Of course, that was back in the mad days where BMW and Mercedes-Benz headed sales figures and Porsche sold more cars than Honda. 

That’s madness!
This. IS. SINGAPORE. Ahem. Jokes aside, the new, tenth-gen ‘FC’ Civic is much longer, wider and lower. The car’s wideness is accentuated by the long, flat grille and the pushed-out headlights (with de-rigeur LED accents of course), there’s bold fenders and bonnet accents, which ends in a swept aero-optimised bootlid-tail and even bolder C-shaped headlights. Basically it looks like an awesome coupe. 

Oh, and this one has a TURBO doesn’t it? 
Sorry, not this exact one. There’s a 176hp, 1.5-litre turbo and entry-level 1.6-litre NA (this car). Because it’s mated to a CVT – like every Japanese car nowadays sans Mazda – and because it’s modest, it feels pretty regular, as powertrains go. 0-100km/h in 11.6 seconds indicates it’s not on the painfully slow side either, but it’s also noticeably quiet and well-damped on the ride side.

If you want to know how the Turbo goes, our colleagues up North have already tested it and we’ve also tested the 150hp Honda Jade RS, Honda’s first turbo car here in Singapore. 

Is this the only car that can stop the mighty new Civic? Mazda’s face-lifted 3 can make your passengers happier, automatically

Kia’s face-lifted Forte K3 is now on sale – and still cheaper than a Civic 

Civics are well-known for their handling. Does this one return to form?
Yes, and then some. The steering is quick and precise, the body control excellent and the ride quality is very good, and you can push the car far beyond where most normal Japanese sedans will start telling you to think of your family.

It’s not perfect, as over uneven surfaces there was some shimmying and movement, though we felt the car certainly capable of more, dynamically: Slapping on some high-performance rubber to replace the OE Hankook Ventus S1 Noble tyres would certainly let the Civic stretch horizons on a track day. We never thought we’d say that about a normal Japanese sedan ever again, actually.

How about the inside? 
There’s a large, central instrument panel which is an active colour display, flanked by two information clusters. The central panel shows anything from speed to media tracks – you control it via steering wheel remote controls and it’s probably the best execution of an active display in a non-luxury East Asian car to date. 

VIDEO: Want to see how this works? Watch our video walkthrough

There’s little to reproach in terms of quality, although some of the hard plastics do remind us we’re in a Japanese car, but the Civic has come far and raised the bar for what we expect of a small-mid sedan, not in least because it’s massive inside: The wheelbase, 2,700mm, is now the same as the eighth-gen but somehow Honda’s done its Harry Potter thing again (see: Jazz, City) and carved out an illogical amount of interior space and rear legroom, the only quibble being the curving roofline eats a tiny bit into headroom.

Who cares! I want a turbo VTEC!
Alright calm yo VTi-VTis. Between the turbo (above – see the fog lights?) and the 1.6, there’s a price gap of some 15 percent (meaning the Turbo costs $126,999 at the moment). Besides the obvious power bump, the turbo model adds a sunroof, twin exhausts, powered driver’s seat, LED headlights, side and side curtain airbags, the nifty ‘LaneWatch’ camera system and larger 17-inch wheels.

But the base 1.6 already has lots of stuff as standard, and it’s all the things you’d expect from a ‘high spec’ car, like keyless entry/go, the Display Audio system and eight-speaker hifi, leather seats (though the test unit shown has cloth), cruise control, dual-zone air-con and ‘walk away’ automatic locking.

All that, and given the overall package of the new FC model, means that at $110,999 with COE, the Civic represents a big threat to anything within $10,000 of its price range, and perhaps even more for the turbo model. Honda says it aimed at small executive luxury sedans with this Civic, and it succeeded. Not only is it good enough to make a buyer think twice about a 3 Series, it might even persuade someone who would otherwise buy an Accord or Camry, stiff-upper lips not accounted for.

NEED TO KNOW Honda Civic 1.6
Engine                          1,597cc, 16V, inline 4
Power                           125bhp at 6500rpm
Torque                          152Nm at 4300rpm
Gearbox                        CVT
Top Speed                     200km/h
0-100kmh                     11.6 seconds              
Fuel efficiency                6.7L/100km
CO2                             152g/km
Price                            $110,999 with COE
Availability                    Now

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about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.