Honda has just unveiled the Civic e:HEV, and it's pretty much better than the Civic Turbo in all possible ways except for one.
Honda yesterday unveiled the all-new Civic e:HEV, the 11th generation hybrid version of its iconic global compact car. It features Honda's proven e:HEV powertrain technology, which is helping the brand to electrify most of its models.
While Hybrid vehicles are an effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and a pathway for Honda to reach their vision for 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2040, the hybrid powertrain has also given the Civic a new character, which Honda calls "Smart Sport".
While many are content with the overall package and performance of the 1.5-litre turbocharged Civics, the Smart Sport is a beast of its own, characterised by how it delivers driving pleasure without compromising on efficiency.
To deliver exceptional dynamics and efficiency as standard is a hard thing to do, but the Honda Civic e:HEV makes it look easy. How does it do it? Well, to understand it, we must get acquainted with Honda's new e:HEV powertrain.
What's underneath the bonnet? rather the whole body in this case
Honda's proven e:HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) powertrain technology is nothing new because we've seen it in the Honda City sedan/hatchback and the HR-V.
While Honda could have just plonked the same hybrid 1.5-litre powertrain from the City and HR-V into the Civic, they actually wanted to give people an exhilarating drive, which is why the Civic e:HEV has a setup that is different to its brothers.
The Civic e:HEV sees the deployment of a new 72-cell lithium-ion battery and two compact and powerful electric motors that is paired to a newly developed 2.0-litre direct-injection Atkinson-cycle engine.
Combined, the powertrain delivers a maximum motor output of 181hp and 315Nm of torque. When compared to the Civic turbo, the hybrid manages to breach the 8 second 0-100km/h time, making it faster than its forced induction-powered brother.
The two powerful electric motors work together to provide the primary drive force, but the engine can be called upon for instances when there is light throttle input, such as when you are cruising at higher speeds.
The engine is controlled by a new, compact Power Control unit which now sits under the bonnet with the rest of the powertrain. Sitting under the rear seats is the latest version of Honda's Intelligent Power Unit (what gives the electric motors their energy), which is now smaller and lighter but has the benefits of an increased energy density.
This advanced powertrain is capable of shifting seamlessly between EV, Hybrid and Engine drive with no input from the driver. In fact, according to Large Project Leader of the Civic e:HEV RS, Tomoyuki Yamagami, they purposely made it this way, so that you don't have to think about power or efficiency management. Instead, the car will choose what is optimal for both ends of the spectrum to give you the best results.
This system delivers a feeling of instant torque and powerful acceleration whilst still offering outstanding efficiency. It delivers power so well it even manages to give the driver an acceleration feel at high speeds according to Honda, and this should provide a comfortable passing acceleration. It also manages to do this without an increase in harsh engine sounds.
Central to the e:HEV system is the fixed gear transmission, which has been designed to minimise mechanical friction and is controlled by an intelligent power control unit, which optimises the vehicle to each driving situation.
But does the extra weight make the Civic feel like a hippo?
Tomoyuki Yamagami said the Civic e:HEV drives well, despite being 100kg more than the Civic Turbo.
The Civic e:HEV's dimensions are exactly just like the other variants, except that it sits slightly higher off the ground (126mm VS 128mm). Despite this, Honda pointed out that its centre of gravity is 10mm lower, which should give it good balance.
Speaking of balance, the 100kg of added weight has been distributed evenly across the car (50:50), and according to Yamagami, this was done to ensure that its driving dynamics are not compromised.
One of our colleagues managed to drive it on the Sepang Circuit recently and during the slalom test, he mentioned that the handling was pretty good and the extra weight was unnoticeable. One of the reasons for this good handling is due to some tweaking of the springs and dampers as well as the inclusion of a stiffer cross member at the rear.
How about its fuel efficiency?
According to Honda, the Civic turbo sips fuel at about 6.3L/100km, and the hybrid can do it at 4L/100km. To put that into perspective, our beloved Perodua Myvi returns about 4.8L/100km.
So as you can see, the Honda Civic e:HEV pretty much has all the corners covered, as it has good performance, handling and fuel efficiency. Is worth your hard-earned money? Well, that is down to you because it does have a premium of RM16k over the Turbo.
Technically however, if you want the best Civic available, the hybrid is the one to go for, and we bet you won't regret it at all.