Published on September 20th, 2012 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez1
Honda Civic 1.5L Hybrid Test Drive – Malaysia
This is the all new 2012 Honda Civic hybrid. The Civic hybrid was the 1st ever hybrid car to be sold in Malaysia. That of course was 2 generations ago. Now it returns to Malaysian showrooms with a more powerful electric motor, a larger displacement petrol engine (previous Civic hybrid used a 1.3-liter petrol engine and now this one uses a 1.5-liter) and a new lithium-ion battery pack. The improved IMA system now works more as an electrical assistant for its 1.5-liter petrol engine.
The 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor generates the same combined horsepower at 110bhp as its predecessor, but develops an additional 4 pound feet of torque at 127 lb-ft. This Civic Hybrid now utilizes more efficient and lighter weight Lithium Ion battery rather than the former Nickel Metal Hydride version. The battery pack is mounted behind the rear seats, which do not fold down, providing a useable 10.7 cubic feet of boot space. This 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid is the same length overall as the previous Civic, but the wheelbase has been shortened to 105.1-inches. The chassis employs a greater percentage of high-strength steel and is 7 percent lighter and 10 percent stiffer than before. The hybrid’s air conditioning compressor is powered either electrically or by the engine crankshaft, so the cabin remains cool even when the engine is switched off. Compared to current segment all new family/executive cars like the Hyundai Elantra and the just launched Ford Focus, the Civic lacks in a 6-speed gearbox and some added cabin comforts. The Civic, however, has effectively closed the gap with good on road drive dynamics, spacious cabin for 5 adults and good build quality. The multilayered dashboard still looks like it was borrowed from a jet fighter (the tachometer is right behind the steering wheel, but the speedometer is up near the base of the windshield). But you get used to it quickly and the control buttons on the steering wheel make operating the entertainment options relatively easy.
Honda’s new IMID system provides more useful information than before with increased connectivity. Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® system is standard enabling Civic Hybrid owners to make and receive mobile phone calls using the vehicle’s audio system and a compatible mobile phone. Audio streaming is also supported with compatible devices. The rear seat is surprisingly spacious for such a car carrying the same dimensions as its outgoing model and the thinner ‘A’ pillars give the cabin an airier feel and better outward vision. The Civic Hybrid offers an Eco Guide and Eco Scoring feature to help drivers track their daily progress of efficient driving styles similar to the Honda Insight and CR-Z.
Driving the Hybrid version is like driving any other Civic, except it offers more choices in terms of performance characteristics. The Eco mode button delivers good fuel economy in city traffic and daily office commutes will be much cheaper for the owner. The electric power steering feels tighter and slightly more communicative over the previous Hybrid Civic. Take it out on an open highway and this Hybrid feels very planted on the road. Handling is good and there is little indication that it is a Hybrid. In gear pickup for overtaking is good and the only downside is the engine note that is less intoxicating over the 2-liter Civic. You will quickly learn to appreciate the coloured digital bars alongside the speedometer that teach you to get the best possible fuel mileage. Green is efficient, Torquise is less effcienct and Blue is ‘pushing’ it.
After a weekend driving the Civic Hybrid, it is clear that Honda has scored another winner product especially when you look at its selling from of just RM119,980. Competing directly with the Prius, this Hybrid offers more as it is priced much lower and has a more sporty look.
Specifications Honda Civic Hybrid
Engine: 4-cylinder SOHC i-VTEC+IMA
Power: 110bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque: 172Nm @ 1000-3500rpm
Transmission: CVT auto