While many manufacturers have been updating their models time and again, one of the role models for the US market, the Honda Civic has gone for a mild facelift or rather should I say a major one. Moreover, if one has been to the third world countries, the 2012 Honda Civic would be instantly recognizable as inspired from the Honda City sedan that is available in Thailand, China and India. In those countries, the Civic is positioned one step above that of the Honda City. The 2012 Honda Civic has been given to the usa.indiandrives.com team for a test drive. But frankly speaking, I do feel that the 2012 Honda Civic has lost quite some of its character and that the 7th and 8th generation cars were the best looking cars. Well the new thing is the chunky new chrome bar across the grille plus the wrap around head lamps. It’s a notable trend that most of the manufacturers are doing away with the trend of having fog lamps and now Honda has followed suit with its 2012 Civic.
The air dam is however prominent and much like a furrow in the chin. The bonnet swoops down in a good angle. The side profile shows 16 inch alloy wheels which like the rest of the body design doesn’t bring in any new design theme. The rear profile is shared with the much bigger Honda Accord Coupe as also the Hyundai Verna RB. Not only have Honda taken the Asian Honda City as the central theme for the design, they haven’t tinkered with the entire design theme at all. I would say that it’s a carbon copy of the Asian City. Why, even the single tail pipe also has been borrowed from there.
As far as interiors go, thankfully, they have been retained from the older Civics. The dashboard is now slightly tilted towards the driver signaling its driver centric roots. The 3 spoke steering wheel is a modification of the old one however it has now got circular controls in place of the toggle type switches. Oh well, the delicious meter dials have been retained however for those driving the Honda Civic for the first time would definitely be dazzled with the split gauges of this car. Yes, there is a headsup display which Honda prefers to call as the intelligent Multi-Information Display or I-MID for short. This screen displays various information about the car, navigation directions and also audio selections. If Honda displayed some amount of plagiarism (if copying from your own stables can be called as plagiarism) then all these would be forgiven once the meter dials light up. There are many goodies on offer too. Some like the auto head lamps, seven speaker premium music system with Bluetooth function, sun roof, real time traffic updates navigation system as also heated front seats with leather upholstery. The seats are very comfortable, both at the front and the rear. The front however is more spacious than the rear bench. The 2012 Honda Civic boasts of the right bolstering for the seats and even underthigh support isn’t an issue with this sedan. Cabin space, one Honda engineer says has increased by 3mm at the rear and 1 mm in the front. Trunk space is about 12.7 cubic feet. The 2012 Honda Civic’s controls are pretty much intuitive and it wouldn’t take even a non Honda lover more than 5 minutes to master the controls. Cubby holes abound in the cabin however the dark textured plastics don’t do any wonders to the feeling of spaciousness.
The Honda Civic was always projected as a sporty small sedan and the 2012 one just tries to elevate the feeling. The suspension however has been tuned to be on the softer side however the smooth roads in California hardly tested this car’s mettle. Infact, even around some not so busy corners, this car behaved immaculately. And by this, I mean speeds above 45 mph. The engine dynamics are ultra refined and in this process ensure that the cabin noise is kept to the minimum. Even when I saw about 82 mph on the digital speedo, the engine was barely ticking at the 2,700 rpm mark. The steering wheel also deserves a special round of applause since it delivers just the right kind of feedback. However I did notice a bit of light feeling when I touched the 82 mph mark.
As far as engine options go, Honda has done precious little for the lower end trims and they all get the age old 1.8 liter gasoline motor. This 4 cylinder motor makes 140 Hp and about 129 pound feet of torque. For the uninitiated Honda offers a choice of two transmissions on the 2012 Honda Civic. Those are a 5 speed automatic or a 5 speed manual. The auto transmission boasts of paddles behind the steering wheel. The more powerful Si trim gets a new 2.4 liter motor. Actually, its not a new motor but the discarded one from the 2.4 liter Honda Accord. This motor makes 201 Hp of power while the torque figure reads as 170 pound feet. Not to dilute the driving joy, Honda have offered this motor with a single manual transmission and a 6 speed one at that. One thing is for sure. Like the 2.4 liter Si trim level’s motor begs to be revved, even the 1.8 motor, which I had previously sampled from the earlier generation, also begs to rev. The automatic transmission is silky smooth but baulks at the thought of a quick downshift. The manual in the meanwhile has no such problem and shifts very smoothly. Honda have given excellent brakes and for the top end Si trim, there are discs on all the 4 wheels while the lower end trims have got drums at the rear. Nevertheless both the versions have ample stopping power. Safety is handled by 6 air bags, ABS, stability control and also traction control.
Fuel efficiency as calculated by EPA stands at 22 mpg for city and 31 for the highway. This was for the Si trim. The regular Civic munches 29 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. There is a hybrid trim as well which gets a 1.5 liter engine that produces 110 Hp of peak power and 127 pound feet of torque. It is aligned with a CVT. It has an overall fuel efficiency of 44 mpg which is stellar by any standards. There is an ECO mode button on all the automatic Civics which actually helps deliver better fuel efficiency by shifting the gear to a higher one at the very next instance.
While the 2012 Honda Civic may not make any industry standards as far as the styling is concerned, the interiors would make one go wow. However when I think of the competition in the form of the Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze and the Ford Focus, those have got better put interiors and less hard wearing plastics. The 2012 Honda Civic price is expected to start from $16,445 and will go all the way to $29,991 for the top end model. This vehicle is expected to go on sale by summer of 2011.