TYPE R’S BABY BROTHER
It doesn’t seem possible that it’s over three years since Honda unveiled its sharp suited Civic, replacing its sober, mundane predecessor. At launch, its distinctive lines and space age interior polarised opinion and was clearly aimed at a younger, much funkier customer base.
There isn’t a lot wrong with the current Civic, and this meant that when Honda set about looking at changes for its 2009 Civic, very few were needed. Honda reports that over fifty per cent of Civic buyers say that they chose the car because of the way it looks, and keen car spotters will see that little has changed. On five-door models, there’s a new front grille and redesigned tail light clusters, and on sportier Type S versions, Honda has sought to bring the car closer in terms of looks to its flagship Civic, the Type R. This means new body coloured bumpers and skirts, together with a new black honeycomb grille.
On the inside, Honda has uprated the plastics, aimed at giving the Civic a more premium feel, and instead of the piano black finish as found before, there’s a smarter, cleaner looking brushed metal on the centre console. The Alcantara sports seats fitted to the test car were figure hugging and offered good levels of support so it was easy to find a comfortable driving position. While the futuristic looking dashboard may not appeal to all tastes, it feels well made and solid. Despite the subtle changes, one of the Civic’s biggest drawbacks still remains, and that is the poor rearward vision. The high back, split tailgate and lack of a rear wiper make manoeuvring in poor conditions a real problem.
Out on the road, the Civic Type S feels taut and well controlled, with precise steering and plenty of punch from the 2.2 i-CTDi engine. Noise levels are well concealed from the cabin, and all the controls are logically placed. The Type S feels sportier thanks to its revised suspension settings, offering a more driver focussed ride.
With the changes brought in for the 2009 Civic, the Japanese maker is aiming the five-door versions at buyers that seek comfort and refinement, whereas the sporty Type S three-door models are designed to appeal to a younger market, almost as a stepping stone to ownership of the more hardcore Civic Type R. Prices for the revised Civic are yet to be announced by Honda, with final specifications being made available before the car goes on sale in the spring.
RIVALS: FORD FOCUS ZETEC S 2.0 TDCi, SEAT LEON SPORT 2.0 TDI, VAUXHALL ASTRA
- Engine: 2204cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 138bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 251lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,500kg
- Combined Consumption: 55.4mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 136g/km (C)
- 0-62mph: 8.7secs
- Max speed: 127mph
- Insurance Group: 10