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Honda Civic (2015 - 2017)

The independent definitive Honda Civic (2015-2017) video review
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    CIVIC SENSE (some text hidden) SECTIONED_new_hondacivic_2015

    By Jonathan Crouch

    Introductionword count: 103

    The Honda Civic has always been a more interesting choice for buyers in the Focus-sized family hatchback segment, hence this hatchback's loyal following. Conquest customers though, have often been harder for this Japanese maker to attract, hence the package of updates that was made to in 2015 to a ninth generation Civic model that as a result became smarter, cleverer, safer and more comfortable. It meant that this under-rated contender is able to represent a very good used car buy in its segment, especially when matched to peppy but frugal 1.6-litre diesel power. It's a surprising package for the right kind of customer.

    Modelsword count: 20

    5-door family hatch, five-door estate [(1.4, 1.8, 2.0 petrol, 1.6 diesel) S, SE, SE Plus, S-T, SR, Sport, Type R]

    Historyword count: 359

    The Honda Civic. It's a family hatchback that's always been frustratingly close to greatness, especially perhaps, in its ninth generation guise, which was significantly updated in the form we're going to look at here. Cars of this kind were always closest to the heart of company founder Soichiro Honda. Back in the Sixties when the best the motor industry could offer a small family was something like a lumbering Morris Oxford, it was he who pioneered the idea of a compact fuel and space-efficient family car with a hi-tech air-cooled flat-four 1300cc engine. It was thinking that led to the launch of the original Civic in 1972, a model series that over the next forty years would go on to sell over 20 million cars around the world, over 650,000 of them in the UK. Throughout those decades, there were so many things that made motoring enthusiasts want to like this model line: its unique styling, its wonderfully slick gearbox, its sporty engines, its clever 'magic seating' practicality and its unique driver-centric dash. And, sure enough, all of these things were present and correct when the MK9 Civic model first appeared in 2011. But then came the 'if onlys'. If only the ride, refinement, cabin quality and running costs had been better. If only the lifeless power steering hadn't disguised the responsive handling. If only the pricing had been a bit more competitive. You can't afford 'if onlys' the way the Focus-class segment is at present and Honda knew it had to do better. So, in 2014 the fightback began, first with tweaks to the suspension and power steering that significantly improved the on-the-road experience. Then with the addition to the range of a class leadingly-spacious Tourer estate version. Next up was the announcement of a fearsomely potent Type-R hot hatch variant. And finally, in the Spring of 2015, we got a complete refreshment for the mainstream range, with smarter styling, extra safety kit, a new infotainment system, more equipment and lower pricing. That's the car we're going to look at here as a potential used buy. It sold until the MK10 Civic model was launched in early 2017.

    What You Getword count: 1472

    The improved ninth generation Civic offers buyers a choice of two bodystyles - the five-door hatch or a spacious 'Tourer' estate. In this hatch guise, it certainly remains one of the better-looking models in the Focus-class segment, with looks that were carefully evolved by the original version of this ninth generation design and were further developed by this facelifted version. In this improved form, this Civic was given a sleeker front bumper, smarter headlamps and de rigeur integrated LED daytime running lights that deliver a unique visual signature. Back in 2015, it was all just enough to keep it looking current. Those changes apart, things are much as they were with the original 2011 version of his MK9 model, which means that buyers of the hatch version still got this model line's usual distinctive split-rear screen. This almost unique design element was made easier to live thanks to the way that the designers of the original version of this MK9 model narrowed the rear central spoiler and dropped it further down to create greater rearward visibility that allowed space for a rear wiper. The rear hatch's bisecting bar (supplied either in classy piano black or in body-colour) links revised arc-shaped combination rear lamps that for this facelifted model featured LED technology and were raised well out of harm's way above a restyled bumper. As ever, this Civic features class-leading aerodynamics, an area in which huge efforts were expended by the brand, the design team of the original version of this car having borrowed aerodynamicists from Honda's F1 racing programme to help them perfect the slippery shape. Hence the careful detailing - things like the underbody panels that direct airflow around the car. Or the little ribbed sections you'll find on the tail lamps. The overall result is a 0.27 Cd drag factor sleek enough to embarrass most rivals. Must back seat passengers pay for the coupe-style shape? To some extent, yes. The side windows that incorporate rear door handles hidden within their frames are certainly smaller than is usual in this class. Compensation when you take a seat at the back is provided by plentiful legroom and a near-flat floor which frees up space if necessary for a central rear passenger. Headroom for really tall occupants may be a little restricted for some - you'll struggle a bit if you're over 6ft - but most will be fine, especially if they take advantage of the reclining seat mechanism for greater comfort on longer journeys. That's an MPV-style touch that might prompt you to also wonder whether the seats might slide back and forth, but they don't do that because they can do something cleverer still. If you've a tall load to carry - say a plant from the garden centre - you can flip the base up, cinema seat-style. If you're wondering why other rivals can't offer this kind of versatility, it's because they often have complicated multi-link suspension systems taking up space that Honda thinks buyers would rather see devoted to passenger room or luggage capacity. Hence this Civic's simpler torsion beam suspension set-up and its designers' clever placement of the fuel tank under the front floor, these measures together feeing up an enormous 477-litre boot capacity. To give you some perspective on that, you're talking 97-litres more than you'd get in a Volkswagen Golf and a massive 161-litres more than is offered by a Ford Focus. You'll find 75-litres of that capacity in a useful under-floor compartment that's as spacious as it is because (rather annoyingly) you can't specify a proper space-saver rear wheel. As usual, if you need more room, you can push forward the 60:40 split-folding rear backrest in a simple dive-down motion to create a completely flat 1367-litre load bay that's 1600mm long and 1350mm wide, big enough for three extra-large Samsonite cases, three large golf bags or, if you're an out-doorsy-type, three mountain bikes with the front wheels removed. Need more? Then you'll need the Tourer estate model, a bodystyle with 235mm of extra length, all of it devoted to luggage capacity that sees this variant able to offer as much as 624-litres in total up to tonneau cover level. Flatten the 'Magic seat' folding mechanism in a Civic Tourer and you can free up as much as 1,668-litres and with this variant, you've the flexibility of a 117-litre under-floor compartment too. Take a seat up-front and you'll find yourself in a cabin that'll deliver a surprise or two if you're not familiar with Civic culture. There still isn't a cockpit we can think of this side of a motorshow concept car that looks more wilfully futuristic with its dual-plane architecture and mixture of analogue and digital instrumentation. In principle, it sounds like a mixed-up mess. In practice though, it all works really well. Directly ahead of you are three deeply recessed sporty dials with metallic surround trims. And above them lies what Honda rather pretentiously calls the 'Driver Interface Zone', an upper display that arcs over the main instrument binnacle and is viewed above the steering wheel rim, gathering essential information like speed at the natural point of eye focus. Also conveniently in your eyeline is a small screen sited slightly to the left that updates you on things like the time, plus audio and trip computer functions. The other design keypoint in this cabin is what the designers call the 'Information Interface Zone', essentially this area in the centre of the dash just above the perfectly positioned gearstick. This is where you'll find not only the air conditioning controls but above them, the key interior change that was made to this revised model, namely the addition of this larger 7-inch 'Honda Connect' colour infotainment touchscreen. Provided you avoid entry-level trim, this Android-based set-up is standard across the range, controlling stereo and informational functions, dealing with the optional Garmin sat nav system and providing full internet browsing when you're stationary. For that kind of use, this set-up should feel just like your smartphone to use thanks not only to familiar 'pinch, swipe and tap' functionality but also to a clever 'MirrorLink' function that allows you to mirror your mobile handset's screen display and gain access to its applications. You can personalise the touchscreen with a choice between two different 'skins' and download your favourite apps onto it via the Honda App Centre. In fact, one key app - 'Aha' - came pre-loaded with the system, giving users access to thousands of stations of audio, spanning everything from music to news, podcasts and audio books, plus social media and location-based services. The integrated interface should make finding everything from a Twitter account to weather updates easy. And 'Aha' also includes points of interest searches, helping users locate things like nearby restaurants and hotels. It's all very welcome - if hardly unique in this segment. One thing that is though is the perfected driving position. Honda nearly always gets this small but crucial element right with its cars and this Civic is no exception, aided by rake and reach adjustment for the wonderfully tactile steering wheel. There's a beautifully supportive driver's seat too, with height-adjustment that'll be welcome for taller folk having to site the seat base further down to compensate for the cabin's slightly restricted headroom. It's slightly annoying that you have to adjust the rear backrest with an awkward lever rather than the usual rotary wheel. On to practicalities. We like the hatch model's distinctive split rear screen but it does somewhat restrict your over-the-shoulder rear three-quarter visibility. This isn't an issue on the glassy Tourer estate model and to be fair, even on the hatch variant, it was mitigated to some extent on this facelifted model with the standard fitment of a colour reverse parking camera on most models in the range. On a less sensible note, the plush Civic Sport model's signature drilled metal pedals deserve a mention, too. First, for being over the top. And second, for being exactly in the right place. On to fit and finish. It's certainly true that the choice of trim and materials, though better than with the original MK9 model, still didn't have the 'hewn-from-granite' feel you'd get in, say, Volkswagen Group products and there are some slightly awkward touches like the blanked-off button for the optional push-button start system most variants didn't get. Still, some of the detailing is nice - the white stitching used on plusher variants for example - and the British factory in Swindon certainly screwed it all together very well. More importantly perhaps, customer satisfaction surveys without number all suggest the cabin quality to be durable. There's plenty of practicality too: reasonably-sized door bins, a spacious glovebox, a holder for your sunglasses and space between the front seats for a couple of 1-litre bottles, plus a further couple of 350ml bottles.

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    Category: Compact Family Cars

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