Drive Review: 2016 Honda Civic Touring

Above: The completely redesigned 2016 Honda Civic
Above: The completely redesigned 2016 Honda Civic

No wonder the pretty boy Honda Civic looks and feels long. At 4519mm, it is. So on the one hand you get 416 litres of cargo space, generous for the class. And on the other, you have a sleek looking eel of a sedan, reminiscent of the Audi fleet. The Civic’s not without its drawbacks but let’s focus first on the positives.

This particular Civic Touring features an especially efficient drive train. Push. Go. Easy.

There’s no noticeable lag in the responsive 1.5-litre DI turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The continuously variable transmission is smooth if a tad dull. The sport driving mode elevates the experience — it’s not the kick in the pants other manufacturers are offering these days, wherein you suddenly feel like you’re driving a different car.

But the Enercan fuel efficiency numbers pool out at 6.7L/100km in combined city and highway driving.

The feel of the drive is good too, from a finely tuned suspension. The steering feels genuine. Agile handling assist, a brake-vectoring interventionist tech keeps 4-on-the-floor when the more enthusiastic of us pour into wide corners.

The gorgeous outer design proves difficult to live up to, inside. The sunroof and extended back window combine to create a roomy light feeling in the cabin and the leather seats are deliciously heated both up front and in the back. But they lack the wholesome firmness of, say, a VW or BMW and I found getting aboard awkward, even for a compact sedan.

The quality of materials is pretty good, but there’s so much competition in this category. So, like most of those competitors, the Civic Touring loads up the goodies for the price: Sirius satellite radio; Apple and Android compatibility; a wireless phone charger that you simply place your phone over; proximity sensing entry system with push-button start and a few other baubles but, sadly, no heated steering wheel (though it is leather wrapped and nice to grip).

This trim’s 450-watt premium stereo features 10-well placed speakers including a subwoofer which should for make an enjoyable ride, but for two drawbacks. First, there’s the volume control, which may be the most annoying on a car stereo in years. The glass-touch sensor demands at least some focused visual attention to where louder or softer are. The protocol for volume dials was established generations ago: right louder, left quieter. Why mess with that? Also unwelcome is the speed-sensitive volume control. The drive is fairly quiet with the included acoustic windshield. But if you drive in the city with the continuous changes in speed traffic demands, the up-and-down ranging in volume can make you seasick.

Speaking of city driving, a tap on the indicator lever brings a picture to your screen of the coming turn or lane change’s inside. Nothing replaces your need to check over the shoulder, but it’s still great for gauging your proximity to any potential surprise obstructions — like, say, cyclists. Wouldn’t want that eely exterior scratched.

MSRP $27,390

Steven Bochenek

Steven Bochenek

Steven Bochenek has been reviewing vehicles for nearly a decade. He was invited to join the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada in 2011, was voted the runner-up Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year in 2014 and won Volvo’s 2016 Award for Environment Journalism on his birthday.

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