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Honda Civic

My 2018 Car of the Year
By David Walshe
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40 years and 10 generations on we have the new Honda Civic still going strong.

The award winning Civic too as it is the Continental 2018 Irish Compact Car of the Year and by some margin outscoring its nearest rival by a whopping 2½ times. This was helped, I am sure by the, again, award winning suite of “Honda Sensing” safety features standard with the car range ensuring the car is among the very safest in its class. These features include:- Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control / Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (i-ACC), Traffic Sign Recognition and Intelligent Speed Assistance. Honda don’t talk the talk when it comes to safety. With all those standard features it is walking the walk proudly. And these are all standard on the base model that has a price of €23,750 – phenomenal. We often hear manufacturers and motoring groups moan that  safety features/technology should not attract VRT so that they are more widely available. Well Honda have well and truly slayed that argument by putting them in a Civic at that price. Well done.

The new Civic shape seems to me a combination of the all angular previous model with the all curvy model before that. It looks more planted and muscular too and is bigger all round. The controversial rear spoiler is still there but not as noticeable as before – maybe an acknowledgement that it wasn’t entirely correct on the last two models. This Civic has a brand new chassis. It is lightweight with a highly rigid bodyshell – the product of innovative new engineering and construction techniques – giving a lower centre of gravity and a sophisticated new suspension system delivering an engaging and fun driving experience. It feels bigger too and rides like a bigger car too and it needs a bigger engine to move it all along, right? Wrong. I drove two petrol models the 1.0 litre VTEC and the 1.5 VTEC. There is now a diesel engine in the range just launched. Of the two petrol engines I was blown away by the power, refinement, and economy of the amazing 1.0l engine. I mean there is a technical explanation for all of this but it still seems magical and a bit wizardry. Power feels available at every rev and is instantly delivered. It has a buzzy/busy sound that alludes to sporty performance. And there is some performance from the 127hp turbocharged engine – let that sink in for a second. There is 180hp available from the 1.5 petrol VTEC but in all honesty, apart from the funky twin exhaust at the back of the 1.5, you’ll be more than happy with the 1.0l and is the one I’d pick. As well as the diesel there is a Type R model option readily available so no drip-feeding of models from Honda with only an estate/tourer to be delivered. They really have hit the ground running. Honda has a reputation for sporty cars and the drive in the Civic regardless of power plant is sporty. You sit low, the car hugs the road and it goes around corners on tracks. It provides excellent feedback on where the wheels are and passenger comfort isn’t compromised by the usual hard ride associated with sporty cars. It’s a tricky balancing act and one Honda has executed very well.

The Honda interior is spacious and that big feeling of the outside is carried on inside. All the places you expect to find room has it - head, knee, elbow, shoulders and the boot. I’d no complaints from any of my passengers especially in the shoulder department where the absence of “move over” barking wasn’t heard. The materials used inside, being a Honda, are of just that bit better higher quality. Instruments and switches are welcomingly different and the layout is  

Smart, Smart Plus, Premium and Premium Plus are the four trim levels available. My 1.0l test car had the Premium level trim, €30,150 that had a reversing camera, leather interior, blind spot warning system including Cross Traffic Monitor, keyless entry / start, Dual zone climate control, rear privacy glass, leather steering wheel / gear knob and sporty alloy pedals to name a few or should that be phew!

It wasn’t a surprise to me that the Civic won its category in the Continental Irish Car of the Year awards 2018 and, full disclosure here, I gave it my vote for overall winner. It is a top, top car and regardless of the engine you choose you won’t be disappointed but you will certainly be surprised at the technical marvel that the 1.0l engine is. Prepare to be smitten.