TEST: Honda Civic eHEV – mature and competent – Test drives

Premium One of the world’s best-selling car models has been updated and the eleventh generation of the Honda Civic is only available as a hybrid with 184 hp. Is it the right recipe for Sweden as well?

The newcomer’s design is more stripped-down and low-key than its predecessors.

WHAT IS NEW? Honda’s somewhat strange model policy has led to the Civic here in Sweden living in the shadow of other models, but let’s not forget that the compact car is one of the world’s most successful models.

Since its launch in 1972, more than 17 million examples have been built, spread over ten generations. If you include all the sys conversions, there are ten million more.

After the slightly overdesigned models from generation eight to ten, Honda wants to return to its roots with a slightly more low-key and discreet exterior design.

In the coupe-like body, there is an airy and spacious compartment with frugal interior design. The instrumentation is clear, stripped down and less extroverted. The entrance to the back seat is narrow, but once in place you sit comfortably and have plenty of room in all directions.

The car’s digital instrumentation is discreet, stripped down and very clear.

More interesting than the design however, the technology under the shell should be. The new Honda Civic e:HEV 2.0 i-MMD is initially only available with a driveline option in the form of a hybrid with a system output of 184 hp and 315 Nm.

The internal combustion engine, unlike its predecessors, is no longer turbocharged, instead investing in a two-liter naturally aspirated engine with Atkinson technology with variable compression.

HOW IS IT TO DRIVE? The drivetrain feels convincing, at least during our first test round in Spain. The petrol engine either acts as an energy supplier or directly drives the front wheels, depending on the driving situation. The system switches almost imperceptibly and without delay between the different modes.

Instead of the predecessor’s turbo engines, the new Civic is powered by a two-liter naturally aspirated engine with 143 hp.

Under high load, however, there is a risk because the internal combustion engine makes a lot of noise, but to counter this you have artificial gears.

It sounds much more complicated than it actually is: if you step on the gas hard, the car is driven by the electric motor while the petrol engine revs up to deliver enough energy. When the rpm reaches a certain limit, it shifts and then revs up again. It makes the internal combustion engine resemble a revving sports engine with very short gears.

The driving feels mature and competent and the Civic is lively and resilient. The hybrid drivetrain reacts without the slightest delay. Overall, the car feels sensibly motorized: The sprint from 0-100 km/h is accomplished in 7.9 seconds, and on country roads the electric motor’s 315 Nm provides plenty of power for overtaking.

On Spain’s winding country roads the Civic definitely doesn’t get carried away, the steering also has good precision and enough servo assistance to make life easy for the driver. However, we would have liked a little more steering feel.

For a compact hybrid car, the Civic doesn’t weigh too much either, which further improves resilience. The scale stops at 1,533 kg. The suspension is firm but not uncomfortable and it effectively filters out most bumps.

GERD FACTS. Hybrid operation at Honda always consists of three engines, one combustion engine and two electric motors. The larger electric motor is connected directly to the front wheels, while the smaller one is connected to the internal combustion engine. Via an electronically controlled clutch, the petrol engine can also drive the front wheels.

The Civic’s coupé-like body has the same small tailgate as the other generations, but the trunk swallows 410 liters.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? The new Honda Civic isn’t a neck-wrencher, but it’s not meant to be either. The discreet design should simply appeal to many speculators. If the exterior fails to convince, the powertrain can: there’s plenty of power that develops linearly and harmoniously, befitting the car’s dynamic chassis. Prices start from SEK 314,900 and the car will be launched in Sweden in the autumn.

But where is the plug-in hybrid and the electric version? More than every other new car in Sweden now has a charging cable, and Honda is not keeping up.

Source: Senaste nytt från auto motor & sport by www.mestmotor.se.

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