The Honda Civic is one of those cars that truly stands the test of time. It has been on sale since 1972 and it’s the car that just won’t go away. Not all generations have been perfect, and Honda seems to roll in waves as to what the actual target market for these cars is. I mean, with the introduction of each generation of the Civic, the appearance of the car seems to flip from being focused on younger, newer drivers, to older and more mature drivers.
Take the first Honda Civic for example. My eyes say that this was a young person’s car, as was the version that we heard revving heavily along the roads during the late 1980’s and the early 90’s. Then, the last two generations seemed more mature, and it was less likely that you’d see or even hear a boy racer driving around in one. The facelifted model of the last generation did seem a little sportier at heart – especially in the Civic Si.
None of this is meant to be ageist, so I do apologise if it seems to be, however, marketing plays a massive part in the motor industry, and a car’s physical appearance is the biggest marketing tool that most manufacturers have at their disposal. This car looks to me as if it was designed to regain the younger audience all over again.
Now, I have a theory about this, and the guys in Honda Ireland laughed at me when I voiced it. I think Honda shifts their target audience on purpose, I think that by fluctuating their target audience from age group to age group they are allowing their customers to grow up with their cars and then when they reach a certain level of maturity, Honda sits down, redesigns and focuses on getting a new and young audience back into the driving seat. Yes, it may be a stupid theory, but I do believe that it makes at least a tiny bit of sense. The theory is, that by doing this, they get to keep their customers for two generations of the car. Does that make sense to you?
We attended the Irish launch of this car and our time with the new Honda Civic was short. However, we did manage to cover about 100 km with it. Our test model, in fact all test models on the day housed Honda’s new 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engines which offers a very credible 130hp. Like the Skoda Octavia’s 1.0-litre engine, this little beauty from Honda is surprisingly good. The car feels nicely powered, the only place where you will feel it completely lag is the second that you hit the red line. It gives up too quickly, but apart from that, the car is a confident and competent machine for overtaking on our roads. Like the clever ads from Skoda on their 1.0 engine, this engine could easily be confused with a much larger one.
Apart from the new Honda Civic being lower, longer and wider, the wheelbase is stretched by 30mm. The car sits on an all-new platform. It has a lower centre of gravity and is lighter too, yet somehow, they managed to give it a more rigid structure. The suspension has improved massively as well. To the front is a lower-arm-type MacPherson strut, while at the rear is an all-new multi-link set up. These result in higher stability and a more comfortable ride than what you would have got on the outgoing model.
The Irish market, for the moment, will only benefit from petrol engines. We’ve been told that a diesel will appear towards the end of 2017. However, as we mentioned in our Peugeot 3008 video review, some manufacturers are reporting a shift back to improved petrol technologies from their customers. So, who knows, Honda might do well with their 1.5-litre and the 1.0-litre engines.
In terms of price, the 1.0-litre model that we tested will come offering four trims; Smart (€23,750), Smart Plus (from €26,250), Premium (from €30,150) and Premium Plus (from €31650). The starting price seems steep on-paper, but when you look at what you get with an entry-level Civic, you’ll realise that it compares evenly with similar offerings from other manufacturers. The entry level model is “Smart” trim, with this you get nice standard equipment like; Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control and Traffic Sign Recognition. The infotainment offering from entry level includes; Bluetooth, front and rear parking sensors, AM/FM/DAB radio, and climate control.
All in, things are looking very promising from Honda, and the new look should bring a younger audience to their table. Honda will be a good example with this car as to whether people will move in the direction of petrol again.
Read more Car Buyers Guide Honda reviews here.