There is a long history to the Honda Civic. These cars have become so synonymous with the street scene, there are even hashtags to describe them. As a car for the every-person, however, Honda has many Civics to choose from. The sportiest is the Coupe, a two-door car with just a hint of sports car feel to it. This is easily the best looking Civic to date. Even with a CVT, the driving dynamics are spirited and responsive. It may not be the Acura NSX, but there are definite whiffs of family relation in the Civic Coupe
This latest Civic represented two things for the reviewer: the first Civic driven, and the first Honda CVT driven. In both cases, the 2017 is the best example. More than just a reliable, fun little econobox, the Honda Civic is very well built. Ride is tight and responsive, without sacrificing long trip comfort. At 1.5L, the four-cylinder turbo engine is never short of pep. With 180 hp, it has all the power needed to get the relatively lightweight Coupe up to speed. Put it into a corner at speed, and the Coupe responds in kind. In city driving made the Coupe feel slightly restrained, but not uncomfortably so.
Speaking of comfort, Honda has mastered the art of the CVT. Transmission logic keeps the engine revs where they need to be. Taking advantage of the turbo, and planting the revs during acceleration, gets the Civic up to speed briskly. There are flappy paddle shifters, too, which felt a bit silly initially seeing as a CVT has no actual gears. Honda uses programming to simulate a seven-speed gearbox on the CVT, which is lots for a small coupe. As such, shifting with the paddles is way more fun. Shifts are instant and seamless, thanks to the gear-free CVT.
Honda has also aced styling on this Civic. The Coupe is a fantastically good-looking car, and the red paint doesn’t hurt. Aggressive, yet subdued, styling make the Coupe look like a much more expensive, faster sports car. There are definite hints of the Acura NSX here. It continues into the interior. The cockpit has been simplified. A single LCD touchscreen commands the infotainment system, which has Android Auto or Apple Car. The large digital speedometer, a trademark of the Civic, is still there, surrounded by a simple, but informative driver information center. Sound at this top Touring trim comes via Kevlar made speakers, including a rear deck mounted subwoofer. On the whole, the interior is very well put together, and suits the driving position perfectly.
Despite being a two door, there is still good access to a roomy set of three seats in the rear. Rear passenger seating is comfortable, and the seats are positioned well. There’s even cup holders and storage pockets for those in the back. Access behind the front passenger seat is spacious. The average adult should have no difficulty getting in and seated.
This is, after all, an economy car. Honda has priced the Civic competitively, and given a wide range of features in each model trim. Even fully loaded, as our test model was, price stays below the $30,000 mark. Well below. Thanks to the engine size, fuel economy is excellent. Trunk space is admirable for a small car, more than enough for groceries, or a couple’s weekend away.
The not so good
There’s a common complaint about the death of manuals in cars, we there is another feature Honda seems intent on killing we need to fight for: the volume button (The dial does return on the new CR-V – Ed.). Both the steering wheel and LCD screen feature touch sensitive volume scales, where sliding your finger increases or decreases the volume. But, there is no dial. Instead, a driver climate control dial sits in its place. On more than one occasion, myself or a new passenger reached for, and turned down, the driver temperature. Honda is doing this across more of their vehicles, and it needs to stop. #SavetheVolumeDial
While rear seats are comfortable, the sporty design lines of the Coupe make for very limited headroom in the rear. It was an uncomfortable squeeze for us, and taller folks will simply need to fold in half. Access to the rear happens mostly from the passenger side. There is no quick forward on the driver side, requiring a lot more effort to give passengers driver side access. Power seats are also missing, which can be attributed to the requirement of rear seat access. But, given above, perhaps the driver seat could have been equipped with power controls. This is top trim, after all.
Rounding out our nit picking of the Civic Coupe: control buttons on the steering wheel have a plasticy clicking noise to them. They’re a bit loose to the touch, and don’t feel quite as well put together as everything else. Adaptive cruise control is nice on a car this size, but the position of the detection radar played havoc with the system sometimes. Occasionally, the Civic accelerated, miscalculating the car ahead, only to slam on the brakes in adjustment. In a few other instances, the car slowed or braked for a car which wasn’t intruding on the lane. Most of the time, however, the system worked as expected.
Should I buy this car
There’s a lot of good cars in the compact segment right now, but Honda continues to keep their flagship car relevant and fresh. Attractive styling of the Coupe, coupled with great reliability, economy and driving dynamics, make the Honda Civic a top choice. While the sedan or hatch might be better suited to families, the Coupe is still never a bad choice.