By now you must have read a ton of articles written about the 9th Gen Civic launch. Similarly, you might have also read a load of protest on its exterior design, boring interior design, hard plastics, old technology, lousy pricing, blah blah blah. If you’ve not seen the car, you must be wondering …. is it that bad?

 

The 8th generation Civic, introduced in 2006 was a huge success for Honda. With its futuristic design, both inside and out, revolutionized how automakers think about how a car should look like and even till this date, the 8th generation is still a looker and (to some at least) a symbol of success of a young, upcoming executive. The 8th Gen sold 49,000 units since its launch, making it one of the top selling C segment in Malaysia.

 

Those are really big shoes the 9th generation Civic needs to fit. Doesn’t help that the Koreans are making huge progress in almost all aspects of their vehicles and the continental brands are finding more means to further reduce their vehicle’s retail prices while offering everything short of a wife/husband to make your life all good and perfect when you buy their cars.

 

So how’s the new Civic  against the rest ….. and more importantly, how does it fare against its own predecessor, the most successful Civic ever launched to date? Let’s find out.

 

Launched 2 days ago on 12 July 2012, the Civic comes with 3 engine choices; the 1.8litre, 2.0 litre and 1.5litre hybrid. The 2.0 litre has a sub variant which comes with satellite navigation. The event was held at the Malaysian Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) and was attended by members of the media, business partners and generally, friends of Honda. Excellent food from Delicious and the entire setting was like a movie theater …. which was the theme of the Civic where YOU are the star.

 

To comment about the event itself, it was the first time I attended one held by Honda and I’d say they’ve done a fantastic job:-

 

  1. Finger foods going all round to reward early arriving guests and ensure they don’t starve
  2. Large gathering area so that people can congregate comfortably
  3. Ample seats and tables for attendees.
  4. Wide open stage for the media to find their spot comfortably. My previous car launch events had the speakers talking from a narrow platform and media had to jostle just to get a spot …. until some don’t even bother to try.
  5. Local food to cater to local taste. As the crowd consists of a wide range of people with different cultural background, having local food instead of western makes perfect sense.
  6. Timing was reasonably punctual. This is Malaysia … a 15 minute delay in kicking off the actual event is considered early!
  7. Of course, the customary models aplenty

 

Design

 

 

Ok, let’s face it. It does look like a City. And it’s not going to win any design awards. As a matter of fact, since its launch, it’s design has been subjected to quite a number of critical reviews worldwide. Partly is also due to the 8th Generation’s fault … a hole Honda dug itself in.

 

 

The 8th Generation was such an evolution in design for both inside and outside, it literally blew everyone’s mind off. The aggressive design cue inspires a dynamic emotion that makes owners the envy of others. So now, we get this:-

 

Conventional is the word if you want to be polite about the new design. I’ve heard worse and you can probably find more flowery descriptions in public automotive forums and car sites.

 

Measuring 4,525mm in length, 1,755mm in width and 1,430mm in height, it has actually shrunk a little from the 8th generation (4,540mm long, 1,755mm wide, and 1,435mm height). Wheelbase is also similarly shrunk from a one-time class leading 2,700mm to 2,670mm but honestly, the rear legroom still feels just as spacious as before, thanks to a more effective space-utilization cabin design. Here are the changes in the cabin layout compared to the 8th Gen:-

 

  • Shoulder room improved by 75mm
  • Couple distance improved by 10mm
  • Cabin length to the back of the rear seats improved by 10mm
  • Rear legroom improved by 40mm
  • The floor space of the cabin is now 5mm lower for the front and 15mm lower for the rear, meaning more ambiance space inside.
  • The front seats are positioned 5mm further in front

Seriously, I don’t know how Honda does it but they did it good.

 

Yeah, you’ve heard of others condemning the potential buyers for paying more for less of a car but in this respect, I disagree. Unlike the new Toyota Camry where indeed you are paying more for lesser feature than before, the 9th generation Civic does not skimp on its specifications. Looking at the side profile above, you can see that the front windscreen is not as rakish as the 8th Gen and appear taller (hence like a City). But really, if you see the car in the flesh, the width and relatively low height does make the car look sleek. It won’t be like an 8th Gen’s level of agro but if you look at it as it is, it’s not that bad.

 

A number of people say the 9th Gen has Proton Preve-like rear tail lights. I fail to see the resemblance, really. What I am reminded of though is the earlier City. A tad boring now if you ask me …. it’s like the arse of the Civic has lost its character. I’d probably be tempted to chase after the unique rounded tail lamps of the pre-FL 8th Gen but with the 9th ….. meh, I’ll see you at the next traffic lights.

 

Of course, adding some Mugen bits helps in increasing its appeal

 

As for wheels, the 1.8S comes with 205/55R 16 while the 2.0s are 215/45 R17

 

The Hybrid on the other hand gets sleek 195/65 R15 wheels which are lightweight and specially designed to be aerodynamically as slippery as a baby’s bum.

 

 

Another useful feature I must mention that some might find it trivial but I appreciate it a lot is that Honda has redesigned the A pillar that this has significantly reduced blind spot in that area.

 

 

The width of the A pillar in that area has been reduced by as much as 9% and this has resulted in a 36% improvement in visibility. A small matter but one that Honda chose to pay attention to. Excellent!

 

Performance

 

 

Powering the 1.8 is the 1.8litre SOHC i-VTEC engine dishing out 141PS @ 6,500rpm and 174Nm @ 4,300rpm whereas you’ll find a 2.0litre SOHC i-VTEC engine in the 2.0litre variant, producing 155PS @ 6,500rpm and 190Nm @ 4,300rpm.  The 1.8litre engine output is almost identical to the 8th Gen where it used to give you 140hp @ 6,300rpm and the same torque level.

 

The most radical change is found in the 2.0 litre … instead of Double OverHead Cam, you now get a Single Overhead Cam unit. Going the SOHC path actually makes a lot of sense as you have a good balance of power and fuel consumption. If memory serves me well, SOHC gives better low end torque which is ideal for a city car. Many have a misconception that SOHC is low tech but consider horsepower remains the same and torque is increased by 2Nm compared to the previous DOHC FD2 engine, I’d imagine the Civic would be rather springy off the line when I do get to test drive one.

 

 

If Hybrid is your thing, then the 1.5litre Civic Hybrid may just your answer to the perfect C segment car. The Hybrid has a 1.5litre SOHC i-VTEC+IMA engine, giving you 110PS @ 5,500rpm and 172Nm @ 1,000 – 3,500rpm. With the full torque available at such a low rpm, it should feel more responsive compared to its other siblings but expect some of its performance to be somewhat compromised as the transmission is CVT. The good thing is the new Civic Hybrid uses Lithium Ion battery which has greater charge capacity compared to NiMH (29% lighter and 35% more efficient)

 

In case you’re interested, here’s the dyno charts for all 3 variants versus their predecessors:-

 

Hybrid 1.5L+IMA

1.8litre SOHC i-VTEC

2.0litre SOHC i-VTEC

Ride and Handling

 

Nothing new in this department as the new Civic still features MacPherson struts for the front and independent double wishbone for the rear …. which is good as the 8th Gen has amply demonstrated its more than capable ride characteristics. Without going for a thorough test drive, I cannot say if the new Civic is as bumpy as the old but looking at the way things are, it should not be that different. More to report on this later

 

Cabin Convenience

 

Now this is where the new Civic could have done better. Here’s a picture of the 8th Gen dashboard:

 

And here’s the 9th Gen Civic dashboard:-

 

Please pardon the rather dark image. Any contrast in terms of brightness between the 2 pictures are unintentional.

 

At any rate, we could see that Honda has simplified the layout of the dashboard. While simplification and doing some tidy up is good, it has an unfortunate side effect. When you have less buttons to see and press, what do you do? You see and press the dashboard material … which is made of hard plastics. But the biggest problem, I feel about the dashboard is its asymmetric design. You see, we human measure beauty by how symmetrical things are. What’s on the left must be reflected on the right … from selecting a life partner to finding the perfect car, such appearances matter to us on a fundamental level.

 

The new Civic’s dashboard tries so hard to be functional (and it is) that it forgot to look pretty. To me, the most glaring asymmetry is the left center air conditioning vent and the center head unit. The gap of space is pretty obvious. If you look at the 8th Gen, you can see that although the center HU is angled towards the driver for better ergonomics (as is the new Civic), the number and position of the buttons are as where they should be. Sadly for the 9th Gen, the difference in level of the left and right side of the dashboard further underscores the lack of grace. But that’s just me and that’s my only gripe about the car.

 

Both generation’s rear seats still look rather accommodating and kudos to Honda for creating as much (if not more) space despite losing 30mm in wheelbase. The lack of rear air conditioning vents is still a sore point.

 

I mentioned 1 gripe … I was wrong … I have 2 actually. The other issue I have with the 9th Gen is the shortened boot space. Take a look at the following pictures:-

 

Without a measuring tape, I did the next best thing in trying to determine the boot size. It is indeed shorter in the 9th Gen vs the 8th but only by a small margin. Worse still was the Hybrid which I only managed to lay 2 and a half pieces of A4 from the rear of the rear seats to the opening of the boot.

You can still fit a golf bag inside though so like I said, it’s ok if you take the car as it is and don’t compare.

 

There are a few areas where the 9th Gen is better than the 8th Gen and one of it is the i-MID (Intelligent-Multi Information Display). Aside from the fact that it can’t stream your home’s CCTV to the car, you do get other useful information such as drive information, audio information and vehicle warning messages. You can even customize it with your own pet dog wallpaper and the displayed information is all controlled from the steering wheel.

 

 

Also great is that the 2.o now comes with Keyless Entry and Push Start button. I guess we can expect to see the Accord to be similarly updated soon.

 

 

If you go for the Navi variant, you can find the Answer/Drop calls here on the steering

 

And you’ll also get a reverse camera and satellite navigation

 

 

What you won’t find in the 8th Gen but present in the 9th is this little green button:

 

Excellent fuel efficiency is always high on the list of priorities for a C segment buyer. As such, Honda recognizes and supports the buyer by having a color changing speed display, drive by wire system, an auto transmission shift mapping that focuses on fuel economy and alters the airconditioning programming. Yup, do your bit for Mother Nature by pressing this button often. Quell your inner speed demon.

 

Specifications

 

Honda Civic 1.8S

Exterior

  • Front fog lights
  • Halogen headlights
  • Glass printed antenna
  • Body color door outer handle

Interior

  • Fabric upholstery
  • 3 Spoke leather steering wheel
  • Tilt & telescopic steering wheel
  • Intermittent variable wiper
  • Power window (Up/Down-Auto) – Driver only
  • Multiplex Meter
  • 5″ Intelligent-Multi Information Display with color
  • Single CD Audio Compatible with WMA+MP3/iPod/USB
  • Audio USB & Aux Jack
  • 6 speakers
  • Front Center console with armrest
  • Rear seat armrest with cup holder
  • Rear adjustable headrest

Control

  • Remote Entry + Trunk release
  • Jack knife-style key
  • Steering wheel switch audio & i-MID Control
  • ECON button
  • Power adjustable door mirrors
  • Power retractable door mirrors
  • Auto climate control Air Conditioning

Safety & Security

  • Dual Front SRS airbags
  • Rear side & center headrests
  • ABS
  • Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)
  • Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) Body
  • Rear Seatbelt 3-point ELR x 3
  • Rear Seat ISO Fix
  • Security Alarm System with Immobiliser
  • Ultrasonic sensor
  • 4 corner reverse sensor

 

Honda Civic 2.0S

In addition to the 1.8S unless specified otherwise

Exterior

  • HID headlights instead of halogen
  • Auto levelling headlights
  • Side mirror with turning light
  • Chrome door outer handle

Interior

  • Leather upholstery instead of fabric
  • 8 way Driver Power Seat
  • Smart Entry with Push Start Button
  • Paddle shift control
  • Steering wheel switch cruise control

Safety

  • Side airbags with Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) – total of 4 airbags

 

2.0S Navi

In addition to the 2.0S unless specified otherwise

  • 6.1″ Navigation Touch Screen (DVD, VCD, DIVx + Reverse Camera)
  • Bluetooth audio with hands-free telephone system (HFT)
  • Steering wheel switch hands-free telephony (HFT) Control

 

And compared to other C segment contenders, here’s how the new Civic stands:

 

 

Maintenance costing and ownership

 

The 9th Generation Civic can be yours for the following prices:-

 

1.8S – RM115,980 OTR inclusive of insurance

2.0S – RM131,980 OTR inclusive of insurance

2.0S Navi – RM136,980 OTR inclusive of insurance

 

The key selling point though is it’s maintenance schedule. For the first time in Malaysia for Honda, the new Civic has the following attractive servicing package:-

  • 5 year warranty with unlimited mileage
  • 5 year warranty with unlimited mileage for IMA battery for the Civic Hybrid
  • Extension of preventive maintenance interval from 5,000km to 10,000km
  • Free labour service up to 6 visits for every alternate paid service until 100,000km

Terms and conditions apply, of course …. but according to Honda, the T&Cs remain the same with what’s already standing so not an issue. Honda is doing this because it is responding more actively to feedback from its customers which I think is excellent.

.

As for the maintenance costing, it can be found in Honda’s main website. Please visit here:

.

http://www.honda.com.my/model/overview/civic/

 

and here for the Hybrid:

 

http://www.honda.com.my/model/overview/civic_hybrid/

 

Look under Accessories -> Maintenance -> Civic 1.8 (2012 YM) and Civic 2.0 (2012 YM)

 

 

 

So in the end, is the 9th generation Honda Civic worth buying? That’s for you to decide …. the Civic name itself is already a very attractive proposition. As for the rest, well, why don’t go for a test drive and decide for yourself. One thing I do know for certain ….. the 8th Gen 2nd hand value will still be high despite the existence of the 9th Gen

 

 

 

A special thanks to Rebecca Saw of www.rebeccasaw.com for allowing me to represent her to this event. It was certainly an eye opener for me in seeing how Honda does launch events.

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kensomuse

Though working in a field completely unrelated to the automotive industry, kenso has always had an interest in dabbling into the automotive industry, particularly business related aspects such as sales, marketing, strategic planning, blah blah blah. You can probably find better sources of technical specifications elsewhere if you dig long enough in the internet as this blog talks about the real life ramifications of who, what, where, when and why of the automotive world and focuses on relevant information to potential buyers.

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13 Comments

  1. Terry
    July 15, 2012 at 12:11 am — Reply

    Test drove today (2.0 Navi available for test). Ride is quite bumpy. Overall, internal materials are of hard plastic but bearable. Design of dashboard does not look comfortable to me.

  2. Duck
    July 15, 2012 at 12:34 am — Reply

    Good review. I think the 8th Gen look better on the outside, but the 9th Gen is where I’d like to be in (interior). The seats definitely looks more comfortable – I drive an 8th Gen Civic and the seats are hard! The dashboard and iMID should have been functions made available for the 8th Gen as some other cars during that time already has it. Those are required functions these days, so yeah.. good thing that Honda now has it in the new Civic.

  3. breadman
    July 15, 2012 at 10:35 am — Reply

    The new maintenance, service and warranty package is long overdue for this brand. Competition is a surefire way to keep them honest which becomes a direct benefit to consumers.

  4. Bob
    July 15, 2012 at 10:52 am — Reply

    We have to thank carmakers like Kia, Hyundai even Volkswagen otherwise arrogant carmakers like Honda wouldn’t even offer the 5-years warranty.

  5. Guest
    July 15, 2012 at 11:06 am — Reply

    Due to numerous complaints and negative feedback all over the world, Honda is pushing forward the facelift for the 9th Gen Civic. Expected to be launched end of 2012 or beginning of 2013.

    • Yking
      July 15, 2012 at 11:13 am — Reply

      Even so I don’t think it will be launched so soon here.

    • Xibo
      July 16, 2012 at 3:24 am — Reply

      Not so sure about that, despite numerous criticism this 9th civic received worldwide, it turned out Honda became the best selling c-segment in the US

      http://www.cbt.com.my/2012/07/10/honda-civic-is-usas-best-selling-compact-car/

      • July 16, 2012 at 7:15 am — Reply

        Thanks for sharing the link. I agree with the writer’s opinion. Each reviewer have his/her own set of opinions and bias when looking at a car (as do everyone else, actually) and it is up to each buyer to decide for his/her own which is telling the truth as they see it. I mean, I still can’t get over the fact that some magazines say the Peugeot’s suspension is far superior, far silkier compared to a Volkswagen’s.
        .

        At the end of the day, the numbers don’t lie unless the one posting about the numbers aren’t accurate in which for this particular article, it’s true. Source:


        http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-autosales.html

        .

        However, I don’t really pay much attention to what’s happening in the US because the market forces are completely different as opposed to here. The competition is different (did you know that Peugeot is not sold there?), the specifications is different, the price is different, the laws governing the sale of vehicles is different …. makes us wonder why on earth do we place so much emphasis on what’s being sold (as different as it is) in the other side of the world.
        .

        Numbers don’t lie … but numbers have little meaning when the conditions that created those numbers are different. What I would really be interested to know is how our numbers stack up.

  6. Terry
    July 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm — Reply

    Hybrid version is cool, although slightly priced higher. . . =)
    However, still cant find a Hybrid version for test drive nationwide…

  7. ckd master
    August 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm — Reply

    i have test drive the civic 2.0 which feel like my current 1.8 model…sluggish and struggle i guess…the interior ok for me with addition of navigation system which way to expensive….the leather seat was promising but dat boring….ride is pleasent with lot reduction of road noise and better insulation…you know instead of recommend me this car they recommend me to buy accord for 2.0 with Navi….and it is right the new Civic losses it appeal to 8 gen civic even with modula bodykit….

    • M.Shafiee
      October 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm — Reply

      I had the 8th gen 2.0 civic from Aug 2006 until Jun 2012 (6 years less 2 months). The new 9th gen civic was what I’ve been waiting for. And I took delivery of the 9th gen 2.0 Civic on 20 Aug 2012.

      At its 1k service, I complained about its sluggishness. And the feedback from the service center was slightly low level of engine oil (eiii???)

      Now the car is at its 3+k kilometer. I need to send it back to the dealer’s service centre to have it thoroughly checked. It’s DEFINITELY sluggish. And it can’t take cornering as good as the 8th gen civic. (I’m sure my driving style nor car maintenance culture hasn’t changed and I’ve also passed that phase of driving-spanking-brand-new-car-feeling).

      • October 4, 2012 at 10:07 am — Reply

        Hmmm, just out of curiosity, what made you trade in a Civic for a Civic?

  8. Yoyo
    January 31, 2013 at 11:12 am — Reply

    Kenso,

    I’d like to ask, how long (seconds) does it take for the 2.0 civic to sprint from 0 – 100km/h?

    Thx

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