Sunday January 6, 2013
Honda's hybrid hurrah
Review by CHOONG EN HAN
Fuel consumption numbers will have eco-conscious drivers grinning happily.
VIEWING it from afar, the new Honda Civic Hybrid looks very much like any conventional Civic variant, but thereís more here than meets the eye. Although Honda has reduced the wheelbase of this ninth generation Civic by a fraction, the car still has an imposing look, what with its wide girth and stoutly built persona.
Its design is not as aggressive as the previous generationís but it is still a looker in a conventional way. The rising beltline body styling adds a touch of fluidity in motion, even when the car is stationary.
Sporting completely redesigned front and rear light clusters, the car has halogen headlights and fog lights at the front, while LED tail lights coupled with a rear duck-tail trunk spoiler add to a sleeker appearance.
The interior is spacious with ample front and rear legroom, and compartments within easy reach of the driver and passengers. The comfortable leather seats are an added luxurious plus point too.
The unassuming Hybrid can be differentiated from the petrol variant by its wheel design, a nose that sports a grille with chromed horizontal lines, and a faint bluish trim, a Honda hybrid signature. The 15-inch wheel design gives a futuristic impression too.
With just a light touch of the door handles, the keyless entry feature works like a charm and doors are automatically unlocked, giving you a smooth entry into the driverís seat. The key fob feels solid and the brushed aluminium buttons adds a nice touch too.
Sitting in the driverís seat, one canít help but feel like one has stepped into a cockpit inspired by sci-fi movies. There are those buttons (an awful lot, we must say), the futuristic display, and the space, for instance.
The design reeks of new wave technology, as evidenced by the stylish tachometer, digital speedometer, and Intelligent-Multi Information Display (i-MID).
The five-inch screen housing the i-MID shows information such as average speed, fuel consumption, and range capability. It even has an Eco Assist Scoring System and energy flow to teach drivers how to drive in an ecofriendly way.
I found that such information does indeed help one drive frugally, with additional controls on the steering wheel that keep such details just a fingertip away.
This car wants to help you save petrol further with a speedometer that changes colour from blue to green and vice versa to help the driver know if he is driving efficiently or not. Blue signals high fuel consumption while green means efficient driving.
The cruise control feature was particularly enjoyable to use on highways and for long drives. Just push the Set button and youíre on cruise control. Itís that simple.
Despite being a hybrid, hill climbs and steep slopes are no problem for this nippy car, which is powered by a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine and an Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system.
The new lithium-ion IMA hybrid battery, Honda says, gives 33% more output while weighing 9kg less than the nickel metal hydride type used in the previous generation Civic Hybrid.
The petrol engine and electric motor combination pumps out 110PS at 5,500 rpm and a hearty torque of 172Nm between 1,000 and 3,500 rpm.
The carís fuel economy definitely scores on the high side with one full tank lasting more than 600km.
ďUpshiftsĒ by the Continuous Variable Transmission are seamless and fast. The extra oomph from acceleration is welcomed as power is instant, good for overtaking.
To the uninitiated, the automatic idle stop technology will shut down the engine when the car is idle at traffic lights to save fuel.
Similar to the eighth generation suspension system, the Civic Hybrid also uses the proven MacPherson struts for its front suspension and multi-link suspension for the rear, to ensure riding comfort and stability. Ride over bumps and potholes was still comfortable and body roll was well controlled around fast corners.
The Hybridís kit includes four airbags, an anti-lock braking system, Vehicle Stability Assist, hill start assist and reverse sensors.
Going by what we have gleaned so far, the Civic Hybrid is a great mid-range car that looks good, performs reasonably well, and, for the fuel conscious crowd, it will give you numbers that will make you grin.
The RM119,980 Civic Hybrid is available in four colours: frosty white metallic, taffeta white, crystal black pear, and polished metal metallic.
The Civic Hybrid gets a five-year warranty with unlimited mileage for the IMA battery.