2014 Honda Civic Coupe EX review
A sexy Civic?
Yeah, it sounds like an oxymoron, a contradiction of the popular but eminently practical image of Canada’s perennial top-selling, Mom & Pop family car.
But we’re talking about the two-door coupe here, built on the same bones as the four-door sedan, but with a little more emphasis on form instead of just function, a fast-backed, aggressively styled and sleeker sibling of the more mundane Honda Civic sedan.
Honda Civics have undergone a fast and forced makeover over the past two years. Honda has been back pedalling since critical grumbles about the dumbed-down 2012 Civic lineup, scrambling to make a quick fix of the sedan for 2013 and, more recently, turning their attention to the coupe for the 2014 model year.
The new and rejuvenated 2014 Civic Coupe comes in four trim level choices: LX ($18,840), EX ($20,995), EX-L Navi ($25,600) and Si ($26,710).
Changes across the board include sportier styling cues, interior design upgrades with new available technologies, suspension adjustments and improved engine performance bolstered by the availability of a new optional, fuel-efficient CVT transmission.
Let’s look at our tester as an example, a mid-range EX model, and a typical example of Canadian compromise that adds just enough extras without blowing the family budget.
Exterior design changes include a more aggressive style to the grille and air intakes, a sportier front bumper, new fender designs, a new hood and sleek new headlights.
The wedge-like profile has been accentuated by new side mirrors and new wheel styling, the tapered design tailing back to a new rear bumper with a sporty rear diffuser and new taillights. And all of this has been wrapped, as tested here, in a new shade of Modern Steel Metallic for 2014.
Under the skin of this Civic Coupe EX, the 1.8-litre 16-valve, SOHC, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine carries over with a minor tweak to the exhaust system, freeing up the power output to a slightly higher rating of 143 hp (up 3 hp) and 129 lb/ft of torque (up 1 lb/ft). Not a lot more, but every little bit helps.
The coupe comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission but our tester had been optioned with the new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic transmission, replacing the previous optional five-speed automatic.
The CVT allows for normal hands-off automatic function or for manual shifting through seven pre-programmed shift points, selected via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. And, with a 22 per cent wider ratio range and reduced internal friction, the CVT was designed to compliment the fuel-efficient four-banger to an improvement of 0.4L/100km (city) and 0.2L/100km (combined). The official fuel economy rating for 2014 is 6.7/5.0/6.0L/100km (city/hwy/comb).
In real world terms, I took the Civic Coupe on a long highway trek at normal 100-120 km/h speeds and earned a 5.9L/100km average after a 300 km highway trek. Our combined averages with more city driving were closer to 7.0L/100km.
Additional performance enhancements for 2014 include revised suspension tuning with higher spring rates and a stiffer rear stabilizer bar.
There’s little to complain about in ride and handling. The coupe handles long distance highway hauling, urban chores and even country road corner carving with good manners and sure-footed aplomb.
Inside, the cabin has a driver-oriented ambiance with controls, readouts and instruments all angled towards the left seat. It offers comfortable confines for two but forget about the back seat. As with most coupes, because of the sloping roofline and limited legroom, the second row is suitable only as a receptacle for tossed bags, umbrellas and the other peripherals of life.
New seat fabrics, new textures, and new door panel trim pieces are part of the premium interior refinements enhanced by the addition of new available driver technologies. Our EX tester comes standard with most of them, including the seven-inch capacitive touch-screen Display Audio system with HondaLink, an app-based platform that allows smartphone integration, online access and automatic emergency response.
New body-coloured heated side mirrors include an Expanded View Driver’s Mirror on the left and, on the passenger side, a built-in camera that has been added below the mirror. It turns on during lane changes, with the LaneWatch blind spot display popping up on the Display Audio Screen. Curiously, the image looks flipped around the wrong way, but it somehow works.
Honda also dropped the previous remote key entry system and now uses a new proximity-based Smart Entry with Push Button start. And the MP3/Aux input jack has been deleted in favour of two USB slots and an HDMI socket.
You know, the last time I counted, Civic Coupes made up less than 15 percent of overall Civic sales in Canada. So we could argue about the impact of a refreshed and refined coupe that occupies only a small niche of the broader segment.
And, no doubt, many of the improvements made to the 2014 Civic models were done just to keep pace with other viable contenders in the compact class – Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla, to name just a few.
But there are plenty of reasons why the Honda Civic has remained the best-selling passenger car in Canada for 16 consecutive years.
And a new and refreshed Coupe, may be a minor player but it is still the halo car of the Civic lineup.
It can only help benefit the benchmark qualities and reliable reputation of the top selling, made-in-Canada, Civic compact lineup.