Honda has pulled out all the stops to guarantee its all-new flagship Civic continues as Canada’s top-selling car for the 18th consecutive year.
The first sedan rolled off the line at the Alliston plant in Ontario last week and yours truly had the opportunity to put 200 kilometres on the clock of an early production model.
Truly, it is hard to imagine the manufacturer’s position in the compact market segment faces any serious challenge. Early examination suggests he tenth generation Civic will set a new benchmark in looks, performance, safety and fuel economy, to name but four areas important to today’s car buyers.
The base model, which includes a list of standard features that mock its lowly position in the model pecking order, lists at just $15,750 (excluding taxes). The loaded Touring version doesn’t come close to 30 grand with its base sticker price of $26,990.
On the business side, this car is a major Canadian business coup as it’s the first time Honda has designated a plant outside of Japan as the lead location for the manufacture of any product, let alone its most successful model.
“Civic is a vehicle that Canadians have grown to trust. This tenth generation model will continue to set a new benchmark in the compact class with fun-to-drive performance, fuel efficiency and safety performance, together with a new level of refinement,” said a proud Jerry Chenkin, president and CEO, Honda Canada Inc.
“Canadians can also take pride in knowing that every Civic coupe, sedan and Si model sold in Canada is made right here in Ontario, for Canadians, by Canadians.”
More than 4.5 million Civics have been built at the facility since 1988 and sales in Canada exceed 1.89 million units. The sedan is the first in a series of models that will also include a coupe, high-performance Si models, a 5-door hatchback and the first-ever Civic Type-R model for the Canadian market.
Set alongside an original model from the 1970s that greeted us at the launch location two hours away at Blue Mountain resort, in Collingwood, the sleek car that goes on sale next month looks like a car from a high-speed computer game.
A Civic is now rolling off the line at the rate of one every 63 seconds during each day’s production, so a variety of versions should hit the media test fleets soon. Therefore a more comprehensive review will follow when there’s an opportunity to put the different trims through their paces in local conditions. However, here are some quick initial observations, first on performance.
Two new engines are introduced: a 2.0-litre i-VTEC power plant propels the base DX with the assistance of a six-speed manual transmission. The LX/EX ditto though there’s a choice of manual transmission or Continuously Variable Transmission (auto) in the LX and the EX gets the CVT. The EX-T and Touring versions get the turbocharged 1.5-litre DOHC direct-injected engine 1.5-litre
The anticipated fuel economy ratings for the 1.5 with CVT is expected to be around 7.6/5.5/6.7 (L/100km) (city/highway/combined) and for the 2.0/CVT 7.8/5.8/6.9 (L/100km).
The Touring trim tester I spun through rural Ontario drew its zip from the impressive 1.5-litre turbo unit. It moved smoothly through a much-improved CVT when accelerating on the flat and did not continuously search for the right gear on long inclines, as earlier examples typically did.
It’s a global car so its design and performance were benchmarked against the best prestige European cars and it shows. Opening up on the rural route was a pleasure and despite the less than smooth road surface under the wheels, the cabin was remarkably quiet at speed and every bump was softened by the car’s suspension.
The wheels are pushed to the four corners and the car has been lengthened providing great human cargo space for five, especially noticeable in the rear passenger area, and the trunk will swallow the week’s Big Shop at the grocery store.
The interior is somewhat more refined and though the materials used are clearly better than previous models they are perhaps not as deluxe or soft-touch as Honda boats. Not a deal breaker though.
In terms of tech toys, the optional touchscreen/audio system is compatible with Android Auto2 and Apple CarPlay3 thus enabling you to connect your smart phone seamlessly. Wireless charging is also an option!
The use of an electronic parking brake creates much more space for the centre console, which can easily take two large cups of java and your tablet of choice.
Honda Sensing safety and driver-assistive technologies are available and a closer look at those will feature in our full review. A novelty that will be appreciated in colder climes will be the remote start option that, in addition, automatically sets the car temperature to 22 degrees Celsius.