In over 40 years of Civic, this 10th generation compact from Honda gets the biggest changes the car has ever seen.
- Miami, Florida
Honda is not typically known for bold styling, regularly opting for small evolutionary changes over revolutionary ones. The 2016 Honda Civic, however, swings for the latter and lands it in a big way. Which is especially true when it comes to the coupe.
In a rare move, because of unplanned circumstances, we drove the 2016 Honda Civic Coupe on two opposite ends of the continent. Once, against the backdrop of mountains and the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver, British Columbia and again a few weeks later next to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by palm trees in sunny Miami, Florida. Two very different places, but the takeaway was the same: Honda’s attempt at bold has resulted in one very good looking design and a great driving car.
Before we dive in here, let's be clear about one thing, yours truly is not a Honda fanboi. I was never interested in the tuner scene growing up, and every car I’ve ever owned has been some 60's, 70's or 80's front-engine, rear-drive, American barge. So when we say the Civic impresses, it comes from a place that’s as much admiration as it is surprise.
- Calling the 2016 Honda Civic Coupe a good car may actually be an understatement. It is downright spectacular in nearly every way, save for some hiccups (we’ll discuss those in a bit). And while there are lots of good to pick from, let’s start with looks, shall we? This is one handsome two-door coupe. Agreed, coupes are naturally the better looking siblings in a sedan-coupe pairing, but Honda gets the formula quite right here and this new design, unlike the maligned ninth-gen Civic (bad, oh so bad), is a winner. Nerdy side-note: the new Civic Coupe is shorter than the old one, but has more leg space for rear passengers because the wheels are pushed out further to the ends; this also means smaller overhangs and therefore sharper looks.
- In the years leading up to the launch of this new Civic, Honda - like any OEM - was benchmarking competitor vehicles so the new car can match, if not best, them. What Honda did however, was not only benchmark the obvious (Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, etc.), but also go after compact cars in the premium segment. As a result the new Civic is quieter, and a better driver than vehicles like the Audi A3. For consumers, this means you can now confidently buy in the compact economy segment knowing that your car is a quieter, better handling machine than most compact premium cars. Mind blown.
- In the ultimate move of democratizing safety technology, Honda has done something we’ve been wishing automakers would’ve done years ago. Traditionally opting for more safety tech meant upgrading to a higher, vastly more expensive trim level (if the tech was even available on your economy model to begin with). Instead, you can have every active and passive safety system available in a Honda along with their driver assist systems as a $1,000 option on even the base Civic Coupe LX. Perhaps more importantly, the suite of Honda Sensing (their term, not mine) technologies work well. Honda’s Lane Keeping Assist System is one of the best in the industry I’ve experienced, even rivaling similar systems from premium brands like Infiniti and Lincoln.
- We love in-car tech, good in-car tech, particularly of the infotainment variety. Honda was among the first OEMs to adopt Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and happily it’s available on every trim of the 2016 Civic Coupe.
- As much as we love the 2016 Honda Civic Coupe for making Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard kit, we hate much of the car’s infotainment controls. Sure, we’re in a world of touchscreen everything, but a touch volume slider without tactile feedback is a nightmare. Touchscreen for radio station changes are impossible without looking away from the road, and all of these touch points make for ugly smudgy fingerprints all over the car’s infotainment control surfaces.
- It’s great that Honda still has a manual transmission option for the 2016 Civic Coupe - except it’s on the base 2.0-litre motor, not on the awesome sauce 1.5-litre turbo mill. Guess manual transmissions really are dead, but come on Honda - in a car as sweet to drive as the Civic Coupe Touring with a 1.5L turbo, we really ought to have a stick option.
- Maybe this is just personal dilemma, rather than commentary on the car itself, but I found the Rallye Red, Touring trim Civic Coupe drawing admiring glances and compliments from late-middle aged women more than anything else lately and I’m not sure how I feel about it.
Photos: Dave Pankew, Kanishka Sonnadara