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THE NEW HONDA CIVIC 1.5 TURBO SPORT CVT
17 May 2018
Julian Lurie Edited by Liam Mothilall
The Honda Civic is Honda’s longest-running automotive nameplate and is also its biggest-selling model globally, with more than 23 million Civic’s sold to date. Not a company to let the grass grow under its feet. Honda late last year introduced their all new 10th generation Civic, a completely new model both externally and internally. The new Honda Civic range comprises four models; offering a choice of two engines and four specification grades, and all are fitted with a new CVT automatic gearbox, but the model featured in these road impressions is the Civic 1.5T Sport CVT.
The styling of the new Civic reflects a silhouette for a four-door sedan, creating the overall impression of a sleek sports coupé, with special attention being given to the detailed surfaces in order to fuse quality with sportiness. The sculpted body shape emphasizes the new Civic’s sporty character, and is re-enforced by the lower and wider stance, with a longer bonnet and short front overhang. Overall, the new Honda Civic sedan presents a more aggressive, athletic and dynamic appearance, while also creating more interior room compared to the outgoing model. The wheelbase has been increased by 30 mm, the total length by 109 mm, while height has been lowered by 20 mm. The reduced height and aesthetic appeal translates into a lower center of gravity for greater on-road stability, and boosts cornering confidence, encouraging sporty, engaging driving, while a solid wing face spans the entire front width of the car, and incorporates the brand’s bold grille design and the new slim headlight treatment.
The Civic 1.5T Sport CVT, for the first time, comes standard with advanced full LED headlights and LED daytime running lights while at the rear, the new Civics’ characteristic bracketed tail light design has been re-interpreted with eye-catching LED light bars on either side. Viewed from the side, the Civic 1.5T Sport CVT rides on new design sporty15-spoke 17” alloy rims, which on the press vehicle were wrapped in Bridgestone low profile 215/50R17 tyres.
The interior treatment reflects Honda’s ‘Daring ACE Design’ concept, combining high-quality materials with an ergonomically intuitive center console. The heated front bucket seats are fully adjustable and with the steering wheel being adjustable for both rake and reach, no one should have a problem finding a comfortable driving position. At the back, with the increased knee space and more shoulder room, there’s plenty of room for three adults. The roomy interior makes extensive use of attractive soft-touch and accent materials. Leather seats are standard and on an ergonomic level, all controls are user friendly, including the new high-deck center console encompassing key features such as the Electric Parking Brake and Brake Hold function. Oddment storage is provided for in the in the generous door pockets, the cubby, and there’s plenty space for luggage in the large 519 litre boot.
The new Civic comes with an extensive range of advanced technologies including; the advanced interface provided by the high-resolution, seven-inch- WVGA LCD display that forms the center-piece for the digital audio system. The expansive IPS display can be viewed from both driver and passenger seats, and the air-conditioning is also operated on the display panel. The innovative system enables connection with numerous smartphone functions, including maps for ease of navigation operation. The system is also compatible with various media formats, and can be operated by controls conveniently located on the multifunction steering wheel. In addition, a switch on the steering wheel can perform alphabet searches and switching of content.A separate switch for the volume, which is frequently used, has been added. Other Civic firsts such as Walk Away Auto Lock operated by the smart key system and Smart keyless entry with push button start is standard.
Safety equipment includes; Honda’s new Agile Handling Assist which anticipates a loss of control during cornering and helps to prevent it by continuously modulating brake and throttle inputs in small, imperceptible increments to assist overall driver control. Other safety features are six airbags, Vehicle Stability Control with Hill Start Assist and disc brakes all round along with ABS and EBD, complemented with a reverse camera and rear parking sensors.
The 2017 Civic 1.5T Sport CVT is powered by an all-new 1.5 litre four cylinder V-Tec turbo-charged petrol engine pushing out a healthy 127 kw at 5 500 rpm and 220 Nm of torque from 1 700 rpm. The engine is matched as standard to a CVT automatic with paddle-shifters sending torque to the front wheels.
I’ve never been a fan of CVT transmissions because most feel like the car has a slipping clutch, but in the new Civic, you can barely make out any slip. Also in the new Civic, you can select Sport and Manual mode, and you’ll find that the CVT has been re-programmed to feel like a 7-speed normal automatic change with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters that allows the CVT to simulate a conventional stepped transmission. There’s also an Auto Hold anti-creeping function, as well as an electric parking brake.
In acceleration tests, it did the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in just 7.9 seconds, has a top speed of 200 km/h. Petrol consumption in the combined cycle is given as 5.9 litres per 100 km, but over the week I had the car, the trip computer gave me a reading of 8.00 litres per 100 km’s, but that did include all the performance and handling testing. The tank holds 47 litres.
Seated behind the wheel, the digital instrument panel gives the car a futuristic look and delivers clear, concise information. The large rev counter is centrally mounted in the instrument binnacle and incorporates a digital speedometer. The trip computer is detailed and the graphics move at a high frame rate, giving the display a smooth, high-end effect.
The new 1.5 turbo motor is a gem, quiet and effortless with plenty of torque that offers spirited performance on the road, and I must admit that the new CVT in the Civic works well and is probably the best one I’ve driven so far. Floor the accelerator from a standing start, there’s the slightest amount of turbo lag, but get beyond 1 700 rpm and the motor starts pulling strongly, with none of the stretchiness you normally associate with a CVT. The wide torque band means that, once you’re up and running, progress is both swift and reasonably effortless, and it pulls well up hills, at around the middle of the rev range, without getting to the 6 000 rpm redline.
Cruising along the freeways is most relaxed, thanks to the car’s impressively quiet cabin. At a steady 120 km/h, the motor turns at a low 2 000 rpm and at 160 km/h, it registers just 2 900 rpm. The suspension is excellent in smoothing out the bumps and ruts of our suburban roads while wind and tyre noise are well controlled, and you can have a normal conversation even at speed. The steering is well weighted, with a firm feel in the straight ahead and is very accurate. Tested on the old main road from Hillcrest to Cato Ridge, the Civic Sport exhibited excellent grip and impressive road holding through the twists and turns of the bumpy and narrow road. The steering is well weighted, with a firm feel in the straight ahead and is very accurate. The recommended retail pricing for the new Honda Civic 1.5T Sport CVT is R 442 900 which includes a five-year/200 000 km warranty, a five-year/90 000 km service plan, and three years of AA Roadside Assistance.