Sporty, stylish and fun-to-drive – the all-new Civic combines exciting design with intelligent engineering to set new standards in the competitive European C-segment.
By now, many will be familiar with the startling look of the new Civic. The low, wide and muscular stance of the car has already raised a few eyebrows, as has the sleek and coupe-like body shape. It’s clear the Civic is moving in a new, more exciting direction.
But under the cutting-edge exterior, the practical values of Civic remain – the new model still has loads of interior space, and is even more flexible.
All this, and in a more compact package – the 2006 Civic is actually shorter and lower than the outgoing model.
THE POWER OF DREAMS
The development of the new Civic has perfectly mirrored Honda’s global theme – The Power of Dreams – which means not only coming up with new ideas but also having the determination to turn those ideas into reality.
“I remember sitting down to think about my own dream for Civic,” explains Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, the Large Project Leader of the new Civic. “The answer for the development of this automobile was ‘revolution’. We set out to create a revolution for the European market that would excite our customers and that our competitors would have to follow. Importantly, we also wanted this revolution of one automobile to continue the revolution of Honda’s business in Europe. This was our dream when we began the development of the all-new Civic.
“By revolution, we mean to create something that no one has achieved in the past. Based on this spirit, I did not think of the Civic models of the past. In fact, I didn’t even think Civic. Instead, I pursued what I considered as the core values of what a car should be – a culmination of stylish design, fun-to-drive, sporty, practical, efficient – and how to make such a car for Europe.”
Matsumoto elaborates: “Back when we began developing this Civic, there were cars that had style but lacked practicality, and vice versa. Customers had to compromise one for the other. I wanted a car that was very stylish yet highly practical; high performance yet fuel efficient. In other words, ‘a car for customers who accept no compromise’. I felt confident that only we could do this.”
Honda’s customer research revealed that while customers of the outgoing model found the car useful in everyday life, they would also appreciate a more compact and sportier body to match the handling that has also been one of the main attributes of Honda’s C segment car in Europe.
Honda therefore worked to blend the good handling and performance exhibited by the previous generation, with spacious interiors and almost seamless functionality. The result is a new range of C-segment contenders with compact external dimensions and a large, spacious cabin for comfortable, economical motoring.
Matsumoto concludes by saying that he and his team have achieved what they set out to do. “We have developed a car that epitomises all these core values. And in doing so, have created the Civic that provides new value for our European customers and that remains on the leading edge of change.”
“I wanted to break with conventional methodology, to achieve a breakthrough in design that would make all other cars look like they were from the last generation” Yoshiyuki Matsumoto
To have a stronger footprint on Europe’s roads and to raise the quality of Honda’s design in the European market, the Civic needed to be more individual and have stronger style. It had to be completely different from other cars on the road.
The new Civic does have undeniable presence. Possessing 5-door functionality with coupe overtones, its wedge shape and ‘cab forward’ look suggest strong dynamic performance. There are plenty of distinctive features, from the unique ‘face’ with the headlamps blending seamlessly into a central glazed panel; triangular front fog lamps (on ES and EX models) – a design motif that is repeated by the integrated exhaust tailpipes positioned at either side of the rear bumper – ‘concealed’ rear door handles, that add to the sense of coupe styling; and tailgate glass that is split horizontally by a rear spoiler.
The general trend within the motor industry is for new model ranges to be larger than their predecessors, but the new Civic is an exception: at 4,245mm long and 1,460mm tall, it is shorter by 30mm and lower by 37mm – but in order to create a more dynamic stance and to deliver better handling, overall width is up from 1,715 to 1,760mm and both the front and rear tracks have been increased from 1,468 to 1,504mm and from 1,469mm to 1,510mm, respectively.
Uniquely in its segment, the new Civic features a centrally-mounted 50-litre fuel tank beneath the floor, an elegant approach that affords excellent protection in the event of an accident and also permits a useful flat rear floor, so improving both passenger and load space, and contributing to a best-in-segment luggage compartment volume.
Multiple reinforcement measures in both the cabin and platform have delivered a number of benefits including more accurate steering and chassis response, and enhanced rear-end stability.
The Civic has also been made more aerodynamically efficient by fitting an undercover extending from bumper to bumper.
Good driver visibility is of paramount importance, and often overlooked, but of the utmost importance is windscreen wiper efficiency. The new flat blade wipers and high pressure washers both contribute to this goal.
Ensuring good rearward visibility is equally important and the rear windscreen’s curved design makes water run off naturally. The lower section, below the spoiler, has a water-repellent hydrophilic coating – no need for a wiper!
Easy access to and exit from the interior and good general usability are essential in a C-segment car which is likely to be used for a wide range of purposes, but in particular load carrying and ferrying children. Honda has therefore provided doors with three stage opening to assist in a variety of situations. Thus, when parked close to an obstacle, the first step at 35 degrees gives a 470mm opening; the second step at 52 degrees (660mm) allows easy access for children; where extra space is needed (as in the case of people with limited mobility or when it is necessary to lift a child in or out), then the door will fully open to a class-leading 80 degrees (920mm).
A new electrically-assisted tailgate release offers better operation, eliminates a release handle and enhances vehicle security since there is no cable.
Extensive use has been made of computer simulation for more efficient development of the body. As well as lessening development time, these techniques have allowed the engineers to minimise weight and determine the optimum materials while improving the overall design.
One of the benefits to emerge from this process is a significant improvement in body rigidity. Both bending and torsional rigidity are increased significantly over that of the previous Civic, delivering improved impact resistance, reduced interior noise, as well as enhanced handling and ride since the suspension mounting points always remain in correct alignment.
Also, the new Honda ACE body structure has been adapted for the new Civic. It enhances frontal collision energy management. Further details regarding ACE can be found in the chapter, ‘Safety’.
The new Civic also aims for best in class NVH characteristics that achieve overall refinement without totally eliminating ‘sportiness’ to the engine note. A refined door mirror profile has minimised wind noise, while the new flat blade wipers are a key element in arriving at the lowest windscreen noise in the Honda range. Further contributions come from the use of lightweight and noise-absorbing materials and rounder, more ‘slippery’ A, B and C pillars.
NVH has also been significantly reduced by adopting a torque-rod type engine mounting and a front sub-frame. Other noise suppression measures include a lightweight anti-noise body structure that integrates a foam agent in the lower sections, an anti-noise undercoat, an absorptive roof lining and dashboard insulating material. The results are astonishing values for road noise (70.5 dBA at 50mph cruising in sixth gear, all engines) and interior noise during acceleration (65 dBA at 4,500rpm in third gear, with the 1.8 i-VTEC engine).
“By combining ‘Honda logic’ and ‘Honda magic’ – or technology – we were able to come up with a revolutionary interior packaging that maximises practicality and utility of the car to a totally new plateau”
Dashboard and instruments
The deep dashboard, in particular the area immediately in front of the driver, is a key feature of the interior package and its design mirrors the same wedge-shaped, cab-forward effect of the exterior. In fact, the very shape of the body allows for the distinct, three-dimensional effect of the dashboard.
The Civic’s fascia is based on Honda’s Dual Link concept, which organises driver information in a rational way – the most essential details appearing at the very top of the dash and relatively far forward, to ensure the driver’s view of the road is only momentarily interrupted when the information is being consulted.
Secondary information and controls are then spaced out around and below this central focus within an ‘inner circle’. Besides being modern and sophisticated, the Dual Link concept contributes to quick and accurate driver information, clearly very important to driving safety.
The primary point of focus, and immediately ahead of the driver, is an electronic display featuring a digital speedometer, flanked on the left by a rev indicator and on the right by an Eco indicator that shows instant fuel economy. On the same level and positioned away to the right is the digital audio display and clock.
The secondary ‘inner circle’ located within the lower level of the instrument panel features an analogue tachometer flanked on the left by engine temperature and on the right by the fuel gauge. Contained within the centre of the tachometer is a multi-information display which informs the driver of average speed, average consumption, instant consumption, oil level, rear seatbelt usage, outside temperature and fuel range.
Around the outside of this display are secondary controls such as those for the air conditioning (on the left) and the engine start button (on the right) which adds a sporty flavour to the new generation Civic. The button becomes active once the ignition key has been inserted.
The rear seatbelt usage reminder is a Euro NCAP recommendation and is fitted as standard. The Civic is the only car in the market that can inform the driver about rear seatbelt usage upon request (competitor systems only show such information once the engine has been started).
Numerals and letters are in white, some of them against a blue background, and there are red elements to provide a sense of dynamism. The centre display backlighting is darker in order to create a floating effect to the information displayed.
The interior surfaces are finished in high quality grain, and chosen for their excellent tactile qualities. The materials selected are also PVC-free, so reducing their environmental impact. Soft touch materials are used in the upper areas of the dashboard and the door panels, while the lower section of the dashboard, the centre console and the lower part of the door panel are covered with leather grain. The A, B and C pillars are covered with a grain plastic that emulates fabric.
The three-spoke multi-functional steering wheel retains the current Honda layout that offers good operability. On the left hand spoke are the audio remote control switches and on the right on 1.8 and 2.2 ES and EX models the cruise control buttons. Illumination allows easy recognition at night.
At the same time, a more upright, sportier steering wheel angle has been chosen. Driver legroom has been enhanced and the pedals are now 978mm from the hip point compared with 970mm in the previous Civic. The front seats also have a greater range of fore/aft and reclining adjustment, while the steering column has both rake and telescopic adjustment, providing more room for taller drivers, as well as improved interior versatility.
A great deal of thought and work has been invested in creating seats that better fit the body so that passengers sit in rather than on them. The new frames have a higher rigidity and effectively surround the pelvis area with ridges that improve support. An improved urethane material has been used to enhance vibration absorption and the cushions and backrests are now larger.
The driver’s seat height has been raised by 50mm compared to the outgoing Civic, resulting in a higher and more comfortable hip point as well as better all-round visibility.
The DVD navigation system (standard on EX, optional on SE) features a 7-inch display, voice recognition, traffic-info display, traffic jam detour search, multiple route search and auto time zone adjustment.
The new Civic can also be equipped with Hands-Free Telephone (HFT) based on Bluetooth technology. Among the numerous functions are call answer, redial, talk back, call transfer and voice command (available in five languages).
ES and EX models are equipped with automatic headlamps. With the switch set to auto, a light sensor located on the windscreen detects low light conditions so that the headlamps are automatically lit as the car enters a tunnel, a garage or any zone which is dark enough to trigger the sensor. Similarly, there is also a rain sensor that activates the wipers when the first drops of rain fall.
Air conditioning, standard on all models except S grade, now comes with dual zone climate control on ES and EX models allowing the driver and front passenger to set their own personal preferences.
The indicators have a soft touch mode: gently touching the appropriate lever causes that indicator to flash three times before self-cancelling, reducing the burden of turning it on and off when making lane changes, for example.
Load space and storage
In terms of cabin space and practicality, the Civic sets new standards in the competitive C-segment. The tandem distance (measured from the hip point of the front seat passenger to that of the rear seat passenger and a key indicator of in-car roominess) is 835mm, a figure on a par with some larger D-segment contenders as well as exceeding some station wagons both in the C and D-segments.
The centrally-located fuel tank mounted just beneath the front cabin floor plays a key role in achieving such spaciousness and the flexibility of the cabin. This arrangement, together with the H-shaped torsion beam rear suspension allows for a much lower rear floor. At the same time this rational layout provides increased body rigidity, enhanced crash protection in all directions as well as improved protection of the fuel tank, since it has complete perimeter protection provided by the floor cross members and the floor frame.
Honda models have received widespread praise for their rear seat flexibility and outstanding convenience and ease-of-use. What’s the point in providing features if the amount of effort needed to use them becomes a hassle? The new Civic therefore has simple one-motion dive down rear seats (possible even with the front seats in their rearmost position) and flip-up seat bases.
Collapsing either section of the 60:40 split rear seat completely into the deep footwell to create a flat load floor requires one easy step, and unlike some competitors, it’s all possible from a position standing just inside the rear door.
Added versatility comes from a 60:40 split seat base that can be tipped up and locked against the seat back, so creating a second load area between front and rear seats (1,205mm in height), that opens up a whole range of loading possibilities: two mountain bikes with their front wheels removed; a small Christmas tree; a folded wheelchair… It can also provide an alternative load area when access is limited because the tailgate from cannot be opened, or when the weight of an item means it is easier to lift it the short distance into the rear footwell. Young children can also stand up – to change wet clothes while at the beach, for example. Equally, it also serves as a convenient area to place wet or dirty items to prevent the damage of luggage in the rear.
The luggage compartment is the largest in class by a substantial margin and even exceeds the capacity of some D segment cars. While the segment average is around 320 litres, the new Honda Civic provides 485 litres (1,352 litres to the window with rear seats folded down) of totally unobstructed space: space for the monthly shop, three mountain bikes (with their front wheels removed and the rear seats folded down), three EU Samsonite cases, three 46 inch golf bags, etc.
As well as offering plenty of room, the load space also provides excellent flexibility by means of a clever two level storage configuration. Beneath the boot floor is a ‘secret’ secondary 70-litre storage area for smaller items. The panel that doubles up as both the boot floor and the cover for this storage area features a clever double hinge design that allows it to be either lifted to allow access, or to be lowered (assuming nothing is being stored) to create a single load space.
Naturally there are lots of small storage areas scattered throughout the Civic’s cabin, but these are provided with lids wherever possible to ensure everything is neatly concealed. The storage package is also defined by large capacity, multiple usage and improved usability. The glove box has a dog-swallowing 14-litre capacity and includes a map pocket inside the damped lid, in-box illumination, and a ‘fridge-like’ cooling feature for drinks.
There is also a 1-litre capacity centre pocket, useful for storing a phone, sunglasses, etc, while located behind the cigarette lighter and the removable ashtray is a convenient double cup holder with sliding lid. Finally the large capacity console box can store organisers, tissue boxes, travel maps, 22 CDs or whatever else that 6.9-litres can contain. Both the front and the rear doors are equipped with storage spaces ideally used for bottles (500ml) and maps (front doors).
Engines and Transmissions
There is a choice of three engines in the Civic range: a 1339cc 83PS petrol unit, a 1799cc 140PS petrol unit and a 2204cc 140PS diesel unit. All are combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox making the new Honda Civic the first car in the C segment to be equipped with 6-speed gearboxes across the range. The petrol units can also be specified with Honda i-SHIFT, a 6-speed automated manual transmission.
All three engines are new to the Civic range and the 1.8-litre unit is a completely new engine. All of them provide levels of driveability, fuel efficiency, emissions and performance that reinforce Honda’s reputation for outstanding engine technology and status as the world’s largest engine manufacturer.
The completely new 1.8-litre i-VTEC engine contains Honda’s finest VTEC technology and expertise in control systems, and introduces yet a further innovation to boost environmental performance: by combining delayed-intake valve closure with a wide-open throttle valve during low-load driving, pumping losses are reduced to the benefit of fuel economy.
The key aims during the 1.8-litre engine’s development were to create a power unit that would perform remarkably well at mid and low revs, with astonishing responsiveness. On the other hand, it had to be a quiet engine with a refined sound quality, essential in a car that will compete in the premium C segment. It also had to fit within the limited space under the hood without interfering with either the overall design or handling characteristics. Last but certainly not least, it had to focus on good fuel economy and low emissions. State-of-the-art VTEC technology was instrumental in meeting these objectives.
In conventional petrol engines, the accelerator pedal is directly connected to a throttle valve that opens and closes, adjusting the volume of intake air. Under low-load conditions (i.e. when the driver is pressing lightly on the accelerator pedal) the throttle valve is opened just slightly. This narrowing of the intake passage causes resistance, pumping losses and has a negative impact on fuel economy.
The 1.8-litre i-VTEC engine features two sets of cams: high output cams and fuel economy cams, intelligently adjusting valve timing and lift. During acceleration and other high-load conditions, the high output cams help deliver a superior driving performance. During cruising and other stable low-load driving conditions, the fuel economy cams retard the closure of the intake valve and the throttle valve is opened wide. In this position, the output would normally be very high but since the intake valve closure is delayed, some of the air/fuel mixture is momentarily expelled back out of the combustion chamber, minimising unnecessary output and thus improving fuel economy.
Thanks to this synchronised operation of the intake and throttle valves, output is optimised and pumping losses are minimised. Meanwhile, the drive-by-wire throttle mechanism functions in conjunction with the switch between high output cams and fuel economy cams to provide highly precise throttle control for smooth driving with minimal torque variation.
The engine enters cruising mode if the water temperature is over 60ºC, if 2nd or a higher gear is in use, if the vehicle speed exceeds 10km/h and if the engine is revving between 1,000 and 3,500rpm.
In pursuit of even higher fuel economy, the new 1.8 i-VTEC engine also incorporates the latest friction reducing technologies. The piston skirts are shot with a solid lubricant (molybdenum disulphide) while an ion plating process is used on the piston rings to ensure reduced friction. Plateau honing of the cylinders results in a smoother surface and improved oil film retention. Friction is reduced by approximately 10 per cent as a result.
Together with this combination of new VTEC technology and comprehensive friction reduction measures, overall, the new engine realises a six per cent improvement in fuel economy compared to a 1.7-litre engine and during cruising it delivers fuel economy on par with that of a 1.5-litre engine. Performance is improved at all engine speeds to ensure lively response, while special attention has been paid to increasing low to mid-speed torque.
Within the intake system, variable length intake manifolds are employed. Controlling the effective length of the intake manifold – making it longer at low rpm and shorter at higher rpm – ensures that the optimum intake ram effect is maintained to deliver maximum possible torque throughout the rpm range.
Another technical advance in the 1.8 i-VTEC is the employment of piston oil jets, more normally associated with high performance engines. As a result, superior cooling ensures improved durability against knocking, allowing the engine to run with a high compression ratio of 10.5:1.
These technical innovations combine to achieve class leading performance that’s on a par with a 2.0-litre engine: maximum output is 140PS at 6,300rpm and maximum torque is 174Nm (128lb.ft) at 4,300rpm. Acceleration times are also impressive: the 1.8-engined Civic sprints from 0 to 62mph in 8.9 seconds while recording a fuel consumption figure as low as 44.1mpg (combined). That’s fuel economy unlike any figures attained by the other similar-sized engines in the market. And the i-VTEC not only leaves the direct 1.8 rivals at a great distance but also embarrasses some of the best competitors fitted with 1.6 engines, even those equipped with direct injection fuel systems.
The new engine also offers cleaner emissions performance. The new i-VTEC engine employs an airflow meter and a linear airflow sensor, together with the latest control technology, achieving extremely precise control over the air/fuel ratio and contributing to cleaner exhaust emissions. Also a newly developed integrated cylinder head and exhaust manifold are employed with two catalytic converters positioned immediately after the manifold. Furthermore, the introduction of high temperature combustion gasses into the catalytic converter raises its temperature rapidly helping to optimize performance soon after the engine is started.
It is also lighter and more compact thanks to an all aluminium lower block and plastic used in the head cover, chain guard and chain tensioner arm. Aluminium rocker arms and high strength cracked connecting rods provide a significant reduction in the inertial mass of moving parts.
The integration of the cylinder head with the exhaust manifold both saves space and generates an important weight reduction (0.58kg). The combined assembly of the manual transmission bracket, the chain cover and the oil pump further reduce the engine’s weight (0.3 kilos) and size (15mm), besides diminishing the parts number.
Overall the engine is both lighter (5kg) and shorter (13mm) than a conventional 1.7-litre engine.
The acclaimed 2.2-litre i-CTDi diesel engine features in a Civic for the first time and instantly becomes the new benchmark in the segment, with outstanding performance, low consumption and environmental protection. The Swindon-built unit is the first to take less than nine seconds to reach 62mph from a standing start. In fact it takes just 8.6 seconds to sprint to the magic mark.
The first in-house developed diesel engine in Honda’s history, the 2204cc i-CTDi engine’s advanced design and all-aluminium construction delivers 140PS at 4,000rpm and maximum torque of 340Nm (251lb.ft) at just 2,000rpm. It’s a transversely-mounted, 4-cylinder unit, with DOHC, four valves per cylinder, balancer shaft, second generation common rail direct injection, and variable nozzle turbocharger with intercooler. The strength-in-depth quality of the engine is rounded off by impressive figures in the combined cycle of 55.4mpg.
In the engine bay itself, intake and exhaust systems have been modified in order to accommodate the engine under the Civic’s relatively-low bonnet. The grille-less design was a technological challenge; usually the intercooler is placed between the bumper and the radiator, but in this case it was positioned within the wing. The EGR cooler is also deleted to free-up space, but the reduced EGR is compensated by the lower weight and better aerodynamics of the Civic.
Other items unique to the Civic i-CTDi include the frame, con rods, a new ancillary belt arrangement (to accommodate the EPS), oil pan (to receive the oil level sensor), while the oil filter and chain case are smaller to provide more under bonnet room for pedestrian protection.
Producing a class-leading diesel engine has been as much about materials science and production technology as it has about engine architecture. Employing a series of advanced technologies and crucial attention to detail, both in terms of construction and operation, has delivered an engine that is light in weight, compact, yet immensely strong, and delivers optimum combustion characteristics.
Prime targets during development were class-leading fuel efficiency, driving performance, NV characteristics and compliance with the Euro IV emission regulations, while the engine also needed to be light in weight and compact. The resultant 2204cc capacity diesel engine has a compression ratio of 16.7, employs an aluminium cylinder block and DOHC 16-valve head structure as a basic framework and through a number of Honda-unique manufacturing technologies, delivers outstanding characteristics across all areas.
Core intelligent combustion technologies include optimum use of the combustion chamber, a continuously variable swirl control valve, a common rail system, variable nozzle turbocharger and an electrically operated EGR valve. Achieving exceptional refinement, NV reduction technologies include offset cylinders, a second order balancer shaft and an acoustic engine cover, while friction is minimised through technologies such as roller follower rocker arms. Close-coupled and under-floor catalytic converters contribute to a significantly low emissions performance.
The common rail injection system, providing pressures up to 1,600 bar, allows close regulation of injection pressure and timing to give optimum performance across all driving conditions. A small amount of fuel introduced prior to the main injection – the pilot injection – helps lower combustion noise.
This common rail system closely interacts with the variable nozzle turbocharger to ensure optimum control over intake pressure, facilitating higher intake pressures at a lower speed, as well as better fuel economy and fewer harmful emissions through lean burn combustion.
Given the low CO2 figure of 135g/km, the i-CTDi Civic should be at the top of company car buyers’ lists – it falls comfortably within the European emissions regulations and therefore could mean savings for many fleet car drivers.
The SOHC i-DSI (Dual and Sequential Ignition) engine offered in the Civic pursues the ultimate level of fuel efficiency and compactness.
Low emissions and outstanding frugality are achieved by providing each cylinder with a pair of spark plugs mounted diagonally opposite one another within a compact, high-swirl design, combustion chamber. This arrangement accelerates flame propagation to achieve intensive, extremely rapid and highly efficient combustion which generates high pressure and thus high output.
The dual and sequential ignition system optimises the timing of each spark plug based on engine speed and engine load. The intensive combustion at all engine speeds not only controls knocking, but also permits a much higher compression ratio – 10.8:1 – to achieve a higher output with less fuel consumed compared to a conventional design.
The 1.4 unit now offers even better fuel economy thanks to a revised surface treatment of the camshaft to reduce friction, the use of a lower viscosity oil, and improved efficiency of the air conditioning system. The latter now features a larger condenser, while the capacity of the compressor and the control performance has been optimised. A new intake system features drive-by-wire and a resin inlet manifold tuned to boost power output.
Lively performance across all engine speeds combined with outstanding combined cycle fuel economy (47.9mpg, or 49.6mpg for the i-SHIFT) is the result. CO2 emissions are just 143g/km and it is of course EU IV compliant.
Power output is 83PS at 5,700rpm while torque (119Nm or 88lb.ft at 2,800rpm) is delivered in a wide and flat output curve ensuring high levels of flexibility during everyday driving.
The compact dimensions and lightweight nature of the engine also contribute greatly to packaging design flexibility.
6-Speed Manual Transmission
The Civic’s 6-speed manual transmission has the same structure as the previous 5-speed, but shift feel has been improved thanks to a shorter synchromesh sleeve stroke, a link-less rotation select structure and high capacity detent bearings that generate less friction. Other upgrades include a variable lever ratio shift arm and a new gear specification with better inter-meshing from 3rd to 6th gears.
The development team’s target was to make a 6-speed manual transmission as small and as light as the previous 5-speed manual transmission. Every component was therefore carefully analysed and, where possible, reduced in size and weight (for example, the gear synchroniser), without compromising reliability. The result was so successful, that Honda’s new 6-speed manual transmission is even more compact in size than the 5-speed transmissions from some competitors.
Petrol-engined models in the Civic range with the exception of the 1.4S model can also be equipped with a new i-SHIFT gearbox (the first automated manual transmission to be featured in a Honda). The clutch and change actuator ensure good fuel economy, while the sequential paddle shift allows faster, smoother and more ‘sporty’ gear shifting. The Transmission Central Unit is used to control the clutch with hydraulic power generated by a direct current (DC) motor that replaces the operation of a manual transmission clutch pedal.
Switching between Auto and Manual modes is via a button, placed beside the gear lever or through the steering wheel mounted paddles. During manual mode operation, the selected gear is displayed to the left of the speedometer.
Different shift maps are employed depending on the driving conditions so when the Civic is being driven downhill, the system will shift down to provide engine braking. Similarly, the system will not shift down through a corner if there is any possibility of upsetting the car’s balance.
There are other system safeguards. At 1,000rpm the system will not shift up, even if it is instructed by the driver to do so, thus preventing malfunction and knocking. And it automatically shifts up at a point 500rpm before the red zone, in order to avoid damaging the engine by over revving. When the car stops in fourth gear, the system will automatically shift back to first either in automatic or manual mode. The driver may also choose to start in 2nd gear in manual mode.
There are other shifting restraints determined by operation speed. When the manual operation time is shorter than the shifter operation of 110m/secs the shift is not changed. There is also a jump shift restriction (shifting is partially restricted depending on the vehicle speed).
The shift lever requires only a short – 13.5mm – movement to select the next gear so emulating a motorsport-prepared set-up. Furthermore, reverse is in the conventional manual transmission position, thus permitting selection without requiring a visual check from the driver. When the gear is selected directly from N (neutral) after starting the engine, the auto mode is activated. Finally, manual shifting is possible even in auto mode, as long as the paddles are activated.
The new Honda Civic is easy to drive thanks to its driver-oriented interior – but importantly, it’s also fun to drive, with responsive handling and excellent stability.
As the Civic has been specifically designed for the European market, Honda engineers carried out extensive chassis development in Europe using European drivers. As a result, the ride and handling characteristics suit the preferences of drivers in this part of the world.
The wide track and low stance of the Civic clearly play important roles in the car’s sharp cornering ability, but at the front, proven technology adds to the dynamics with a tried and tested MacPherson strut, featuring a higher castor setting and a quicker EPS (Electric Power Steering) ratio for excellent response to driver input. The front sub-frame’s pressed steel centre member and aluminium cast side members filter out vibrations and improve overall comfort and refinement. Steering stability is further improved by optimising the damper mountings and compliance bushings and overall performance is enhanced by the sophisticated damper design. Lateral forces are contained by a special spring while the aluminium lower arm saves weight and raises rigidity.
At the rear the torsion beam configuration is designed to create a virtual arm length that optimises the position of the roll centre for flatter, sharper cornering ability, which also benefits from the new Civic’s wider track. Excellent damping performance is provided by high-response mono tube dampers, with coil springs that are totally independent.
Honda chose a torsion beam over an independent rear suspension for its good balance between the demands of packaging, performance and weight. NVH characteristics are better and cornering rigidity is higher thus improving stability.
Overall ride comfort benefits from a high rigidity body, achieved through extensive body reinforcement measures including the use of high tensile steel. Excellent rigidity around the suspension mounting points generates good steering linearity and rear stability.
All Civics are equipped with ABS and, for optimum performance, Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) which adjusts front-to-rear brake effort to achieve maximum braking performance and stability. At the rear, a select-low braking strategy is also used to help maintain directional stability over slippery roads. In the event of a rear wheel beginning to lock-up, triggering a pressure modulation at that wheel, brake pressure is also diminished at the adjoining wheel to help preserve the rear axle’s lateral stability. All models feature brake discs all round, 282mm ventilated at the front and 260mm solid at the rear.
Further action is provided by the brake assist system which automatically increases braking output when emergency conditions are detected from the manner of the driver’s input to the pedal.
There are several wheel types dependent on engine and equipment grades: EX and Sport models get 17-inch alloys with 225/45R17 tyres; ES and 1.8/2.2 SE Civics come with 16-inch alloy wheels and 205/55 R16 rubber; the 1.4 SE is equipped with 16-inch steel wheels with hub trim (205/55 tyres); the S model Civic wears 16-inch steel rims (205/55 tyres).
18-inch alloy wheels are also available as an option on Sport and EX models. It’s the first time ever a rim of this size has been on offer for a Honda (UK) car.
The use of more compact chassis components has made it possible to reduce the minimum turning radius to 5.1 metres (from 5.3 on the previous Civic), despite the wider front and rear tracks, thus enhancing around-town manoeuvrability.
The Civic is equipped with highly advanced and efficient electric power steering (EPS) to provide optimised steering characteristics at all road speeds and providing best-in-class feel. Higher output, lower inertia, increased rigidity, lower friction, enhanced controllability, improved NVH and lower consumption are among the key benefits when compared to a hydraulic system.
VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) is standard across the Civic range and designed to assist the driver in maintaining control during cornering, acceleration and sudden manoeuvres by applying brake force to the right or left hand wheels as necessary and managing the throttle and ignition systems.
By monitoring input from a series of vehicle sensors, VSA calculates a predicted range of vehicle response while constantly monitoring the vehicle’s actual response and the driver’s control inputs. If the actual response is outside the predicted response range, as when cornering forces exceed the tyres’ capabilities, VSA automatically intervenes with corrective action. The system is calibrated to provide stability and predictability, without stifling the driving enjoyment of the carefully engineered chassis. The driver can disable the system if desired.
The new Civic will be one of the safest cars in its class. Honda expects the Civic to achieve Euro NCAP ratings of 5 stars for front and side impact safety, 3 stars for pedestrian safety and 4 stars for child protection safety – an outstanding achievement considering it has the shortest front overhang in the C-segment.
The short nose/cab forward design meant that for the crash safety engineers, achieving Honda’s high safety standards and expectations was a tougher challenge than it had been with the previous Civic.
One of the solutions has been to make the front sub-frame out of aluminium which offers good energy absorption characteristics in the event of an impact. Aluminium is also used in the engine-mount torque rod which is attached to the sub-frame. Areas of significant additional stiffening include across the width of the front panel, the dash lower panel, the C-pillar and around the tailgate opening.
The resulting structure together with retracting foot pedals, double pre-tensioners on the front seatbelts and side curtain airbags (standard on all models) has delivered very reassuring results in the 64km/h frontal crash test against a deformable barrier (with a 40 per cent offset), as well as on the 50km/h side impact and the 29km/h stationary pole side impact tests.
The Civic has also met Honda’s car-to-car impact criteria even though the testing used a much larger and heavier Honda Legend.
Advanced Compatibility Engineering
A key element in Civic’s outstanding crash performance is Honda’s recently developed Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, a major innovation in the drive towards ever greater vehicle safety. ACE offers significantly enhanced occupant protection, improved compatibility between vehicles of different sizes and because of its improved energy absorption abilities, less damage to another vehicle.
In a conventional body structure the loads from a frontal collision are generally concentrated through two pathways running longitudinally through the lower portion of the frame. The Civic instead employs a new front-end frame structure that disperses the crash energy through multiple load bearing pathways and away from the passenger compartment.
Its highly efficient, energy-absorbing lower main frame performs the role of a conventional impact absorbing structure, sending energy back into the floor frame and side sills. However, the ACE frontal structure also incorporates an upper cross member located behind the front panel and, on either side, upper longitudinal side members that feed into the front bulkhead and A-pillars. Each end of the cross member curves downwards ahead of the wheelarch to meet the lower frame, as do the leading edges of the upper side members; the cross member is also joined to each upper side member by a diagonal strut.
The resulting polygonal arrangement helps to reduce the potential for vertical or lateral misalignment between the Civic and the other vehicle’s safety structures, so maximising the full energy absorbing potential of both vehicles. And the multiple energy absorbing paths mean that the impact force is distributed from the front of the vehicle through the side sill, floor frame and A-pillar, thus reducing cabin deformation.
The box section construction of the longitudinal elements also ensures that they crush progressively, their controlled collapse further minimising the risk of damage to the all important passenger safety cell.
Fuel tank protection
An important consideration for Honda’s engineers was the way in which impact energy is dispersed throughout the floor frame, given the central location of the fuel tank beneath the front seats. As well as surrounding the tank by a protective frame on all four sides, the front cross member has been specially strengthened directly ahead of the tank; since the tank does not occupy the full width of the floor, the space either side of it is used as an energy absorption area, the frame structure designed to direct the impact energy around it.
Honda has recently introduced considerably more demanding targets with regard to pedestrian safety, and the objective with new Civic was the attainment of 3 stars in the Euro NCAP test. Included among the measures aimed at achieving that goal are the adoption of energy-absorbing sliding wiper pivots, bonnet hinges that compress under impact, an energy-absorbing front bumper beam together with the rounded shape of the front section of the body and headlights and an ‘H’ badge that slide backwards by 2cm in the event of a light impact.
Moreover, Honda continues to conduct extensive research into pedestrian safety centred on its Active Safety Vehicle, the ASV3, together with sophisticated pedestrian dummies, road accident analysis and computer-assisted accident simulation. The effectiveness of that programme was recently demonstrated by the previous Civic 5-door which recorded the highest ever rating in the Euro NCAP tests for pedestrian protection (old protocol).
Children are also very well protected inside the new Civic and naturally the outer rear seats have built in ISOFIX fixtures and tether anchor points for the secure attachment of child seats.
The rear seat has three independent headrests and some versions include a central arm rest with an integrated double cup holder.
Active front seat headrests on SE, ES, Sport and EX models play a key role in protecting against whiplash injury in the event of an accident, and Honda has received a ‘Good’ rating in the neck impact alleviation study conducted by the independent research institute, Thatcham.
Special attention has also been paid to the front seat structure in order to meet the highly demanding Thatcham safety standards for cervical injury arising out of a rear impact. The Civic’s new seat structure is such that in the event of a rear impact, the occupant’s torso moves back and is progressively cushioned by the seatback, while the new active headrests move to support the head. Forces acting upon the neck are therefore dramatically lowered and the risk of injury almost disappears.
Passive safety has always been paramount at Honda, and the new Civic has an innovative seat belt reminder system for the rear passengers. The system interprets the opening and closing of the rear doors and displays the rear seat belt sign on the instrument panel. The SRS unit then determines the status of each seatbelt buckle and sends the information to the display (showing no belts in use, or one, two or three in use).
The front seats are fitted with double pre-tensioners (one on the pillar and one on the exterior mounting).There are side airbags and side curtain airbags fitted as standard in all models in order to increment side protection in case of a lateral collision.
Warranty, Manufacturing and sales
Insurance Ratings, Warranties & Maintenance
Considerable effort has gone into designing front and rear body structures that do not result in expensive repair bills in the event of slow speed impacts. The light crash damageability assessment (DDV/Thatcham standard) has proved very positive, and only required the replacement of plastic parts, considerably reducing repair costs and enabling the new Civic to receive more favourable insurance ratings.
Paintwork anti-scratch resistance has been enhanced by adopting a hard coating technology.
The new Honda Civic also upgrades its warranties. A newly developed wax has been applied to the body making it possible to extend the perforation protection warranty from 6 to 12 years.
Service intervals are at 12,500 miles, and the Honda Happiness fixed-rate servicing offer is available on petrol-engined models.
Ever since its birth in 1972, the Civic has undergone many evolutionary changes to maintain its position as the most successful car built by Honda, accounting for roughly one-third of total Honda sales worldwide. Today, the Civic is built in 11 countries and sold in 160 markets around the globe.
The new Civic for Europe will be built exclusively at Honda’s UK manufacturing plant in Swindon (HUM) and sales will start early 2006. All three engines will be assembled at HUM’s engine plant.
Globally, Civic is Honda’s best selling model and over 16 million units of this automotive icon have been produced and sold around the world during the past 33 years – 30 per cent of total Honda sales over that period. Civic has frequently served as the vehicle for latest Honda technology and the eighth generation is no exception. Currently, the Civic range is produced in 11 countries and sold in approximately 160 world markets.
The 2006 Civic will occupy a more premium position in the market than before, alongside cars like Volkswagen’s Golf and the Audi A3.
Honda (UK) expects the new Civic to be popular with customers in their mid-30s and early 40s, single or double income with no kids, or young families with a yearly income above £27,000.
It’s also likely to be at the top of the want list for company car ‘user chooser’ drivers, given the low emission figures and high mpg returns (especially from the 2.2 i-CTDi engined cars).
It targets customers who are forward-thinking both in work and in their private lives. New Civic drivers have a strong interest in career development and love new technology. They demonstrate social responsibility without giving up the pursuit of their own enjoyment.
The Honda Civic has always been a car to lead in new directions, to create new standards and more value for the customer. At a time when cars are growing increasingly similar, with the eighth generation Civic Honda has introduced a new approach to the C-segment car.
It seems incredible that 33 years have passed since the first generation Civic was launched, back in 1972. Today, the most successful automobile built by Honda accounts for roughly 1/3 of total Honda sales worldwide, is built in 11 countries and sold in no less than 160 countries. Below is a list of the ‘magnificent seven’ Civics, whose considerable impact on the automotive industry has often arisen from Honda’s policy of regularly introducing new technology into the mass market via this iconic range.
1st Generation – ‘First Civic’ (1972-1979)
The original Civic was launched in 1972 at a time when Elvis Presley was at the top of his career and in a world that was still in awe of the space missions that had put Man on the Moon three years earlier. The Civic was Honda’s vision of an affordable yet comfortable and fun to drive car.
Between 1972 and 1979 over 2.1 million units of this lightweight, compact car were produced, mainly in 3 and 5-door body styles. 2-door, 4-door and wagon bodies were also built off the same platform. Engines ranged from 1.2 to 1.5 litres.
The Civic had four strut suspension and a front engine/front wheel drive layout. Using the advanced and typically innovative CVCC or Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion (CVCC) engine, it was the first car in the world to pass the pioneering US ‘Muskie’ Clean Air Act and achieved the highest fuel economy ratings issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency for four successive years. Technically it proved to be an affordable and easy to use compact vehicle.
2nd Generation – ‘Super Civic’ (1979-1983)
The arrival of the ’80s brought a sense of value to the most developed countries in the world, most of which were already acquainted with Honda’s acclaimed compact car.
Diana and Charles gave the world a fairy tale wedding to dream about the following year and by then, sales of Civic were well under way and had passed the 2.5 million milestone. 3, 4 and 5-door versions were sold in all the major markets and engines ranged from 1.3 to 1.5 litres but the technical highlight was provided by further development of the CVCC engine for even higher combustion efficiency. A catalytic converter was also added.
3rd Generation – ‘Wonder Civic’ (1983-1987)
The 3rd generation was launched against a backdrop of huge changes in the USSR under Gorbachov as well as the first true global music concert, Live Aid. The ‘Wonder Civic’ evolved around a design concept called ‘Man-Maximum, Machine Mini mum’, with the customer as the focus and served by the vehicle. 3 and 4 door body styles were the dominant models, but the platform gave rise to the sporty CRX and the Shuttle – a forerunner of modern MPVs.
There were 1.3, 1.5 and 1.6-litre petrol engines serving different priorities. Technically, the 12 valve light alloy engine further improved fuel efficiency whereas the DOHC 16 valve engine helped to make the Civic a sporty contender particularly with the CRX. Over 1.8 million 3rd generation Civics were built and sold, taking the cumulative figure beyond 5 million. At this time Honda also returned to the world of F1.
4th Generation – ‘Grand Civic’ (1987-1991)
This Civic saw the introduction of four-valve-per-cylinder engines across all models. For the first time the double wishbone suspension system used on the Accord and Prelude was incorporated front and rear to provide excellent stability and handling.
At a time when the world was delighted to see the fall of the Berlin Wall and Nelson Mandela’s release, and the famous world wide web first sprung into life, the 1.3 and 1.5-litre engines delivered an excellent compromise between fuel efficiency and performance, while the DOHC VTEC was the first engine in the world to electronically control both valve timing and lift.
2.5 million units were built between 1987 and 1991.
5th Generation – ‘Sports Civic’ (1991-1995)
Aerodynamics and economy were key elements behind the 5th generation Civic available in 2, 3, 4 and 5-door variants, along with the CRX roadster which added a removable roof and rollbar to its exhilarating driving characteristics. The engine line up included 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6-litre units, providing a vast array of choice to some 2.4 million customers during its life. Honda commenced passenger car manufacturing in the United Kingdom (HUM in Swindon) in 1994.
The acclaimed VTEC technology was also applied to the SOHC engine, thus further enhancing the balance between fuel economy and performance. Further developments came with VTEC-E which was geared towards improved fuel efficiency by virtually closing one of the inlet valves in each cylinder at certain engine speeds.
The sportier design did not preclude practicality and the split tailgate made the boot more accessible and practical to use. Civic production also passed the magic 10 million mark during this period.
6th Generation – ‘Miracle Civic’ (1995-2000)
Over 3.2 million units built make this the best selling Civic ever. Available in 2, 3, 4, and 5-door variants (the Aero deck was also produced on the same platform, as a separate model), the 6th generation Civic had a comprehensive engine choice including the Civic’s first diesel – a 2.0-litre. The petrol choice was between 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6 and 1.8-litre capacities.
Yet again it proved possible to improve engine output without adversely affecting fuel consumption and clearly demonstrated by the three-stage VTEC engine. A move forward in terms of driveability, the CVT transmission offered stepless, automatic gear changing for the first time.
7th Generation – ‘The Conscious Civic’ (2000-2005)
By adding new body variants to the Civic platform, Honda developed more family-orientated motoring with the Stream and the CR-V. But the Civic itself got bigger, wider and taller, with extra room for both passengers and luggage. Two million 7th generation Civics were produced between 2000 and 2005.
As well as a cavernous interior, Civic customers also enjoyed a totally new flat floor and a dashboard mounted gear lever.
By coupling VTEC with VTC (Variable Timing Control), Honda engineers created better performing engines. Growing environmental concerns led to the creation of the Civic IMA (Integrated Motor Assist). An electric motor coupled to a frugal i-DSI engine generated something very unique: a 1.3-litre engine with fuel efficiency similar to a 1.0-litre engine and with the performance of a 1.6-litre engine. In terms of safety the Civic had been awarded the highest ever score by Euro NCAP for pedestrian safety (old protocol).