PREVIEW: All-New 2022 Honda Civic – A More Than Worthy Successor?


PREVIEW: All-New 2022 Honda Civic – A More Than Worthy Successor?

With the eleventh-generation Honda Civic being one of the most hotly anticipated products scheduled for local launch, there’s no way we were going to miss out on a preview at Sepang International Circuit.

There are few products that have commanded as much attention or developed as much hype as the Honda Civic, especially as the current generation has proven to be such a huge hit over the course of its production life. Following a global launch of the all-new eleventh-generation Honda Civic back in April, and regional launches from the second half of 2021, it was only a matter of time before Malaysians would demand equal access to Honda's latest C-Segment product.

Past Performance Doesn’t Predict Future Results

As we wind up to the eleventh-generation model, let’s take a very brief look at the recent history of the Civic. When it comes to the nameplate’s track record over the last few decades, there has been an interesting oscillation between struggle and success dating back to the seventh-generation ES Civic – which was regarded as a heavily cost-cut successor to the Civic it replaced.

The eighth-generation FD Civic proved to be an incredible success, with used car values holding solid even after the better part of two decades thanks to an impressive design and improvements in engineering across the board. However, its successor in the form of the ninth-generation FB Civic was once again viewed as a way to stretch the success of the FD Civic with largely cosmetic differences and didn’t prove particularly popular.

Coming to the tenth-generation FC Civic, this is the model that most Malaysians will be familiar with as it’s still on sale today, after taking our market by storm back in 2016 and maintaining its momentum until today. Even amidst last year’s intense pandemic-fueled economic shutdowns, Honda Malaysia managed to find a home for over 12,000 brand-new units of the Honda Civic.

Something Old, Something New

We’ve digressed enough. Back to the topic at hand: a brief, and highly limited preview of the all-new Honda Civic in its RS trim level. There has been so much coverage of this highly anticipated model at a global level that you probably have a good idea of what it looks like by now – region specific trim options notwithstanding.

That being said, it’s even more impressive in the metal – especially when placed side by side with the outgoing Civic FC. There is a distinct step forward in terms of the design language that makes the all-new Civic look like a far more mature product, and one could even venture so far as to say it looks practically European in terms of styling and form.

Honda has definitely learned harsh lessons from the Civic FB, which could easily be traced to the predecessor on which it was based. The underlying platform of the all-new Civic is similar to that of the outgoing model, though an incredible number of targeted improvements has resulted in a product that feels completely new.

More Than Just A Fancy Facelift

On the simpler side of things are improved body rigidity through greater use of structural adhesive, as well as swapping out the front sub-frame and other components for lighter, more rigid items. Stepping it up a notch are revisions to the steering system in terms of weight and assistance, as well as adjustments to rear track width and rear bushings for improved straight-line stability without compromising agility. The most significant difference is a wheelbase increase of 33 mm – indicating this really isn’t just the same repurposed platform.

All of these changes translate to a significantly improved driving experience, with steering that’s more precise and well weighted, as well as better and more predictable body control. In tandem, this gives drivers more confidence when driving spiritedly, and of course, Sepang International Circuit would be the best place to put that to the test.

The tried and tested turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol unit returns with this generation of Honda Civic as well, though figures have been bumped up to 182 PS and 240 Nm of torque, which is 9 PS and 20 Nm more than before. These improvements have been achieved through the addition of variable valve timing to the exhaust side of the engine, as well as a more efficient turbocharger package.

More surprising is the revised transmission, which is still a CVT-type automatic unit. Besides being quieter and smoother than the unit in the outgoing model, it also features quicker and more positive virtual gear ratio selection, especially if you’re in Sport mode. Starting off from a dead stop is quicker and easier, as the extra torque and the more responsive transmission gets you moving with haste.

A Moment For The Driving Enthusiasts

Feel free to skip this portion of our preview if you’re not one to rank driving dynamics highly in the purchase process. For those who do, and especially seeing as we were let loose on Sepang’s south track layout, it would only be appropriate to speak in detail about where the all-new Honda Civic outpaces its predecessor.

The most obvious and immediate change has to be in the steering feel. The fairly quick steering rack returns – just over two turns from lock to lock – but there’s a significant difference in the calibration and fidelity of steering weight and feel, which also changes depending on what drive mode you’re in.

Despite the improvements in overall performance and the more eager transmission, there isn’t a particularly strong translation on the track. Being able to downshift more aggressively as you get on the brakes before a corner is nice, though for the most part there isn’t a wild difference in outright speed or acceleration around the track.

The work put into the suspension definitely pays dividends here with more precise damping keeping the body under slightly more control – though you shouldn’t expect sports car levels of roll control as you can’t get around the fact that it’s a C-Segment sedan. Hitting kerbs on the racetrack is hardly an event as the dampers run through their range of motion without protest.

What We Didn’t Get To Test

With the all-new Honda Civic comes a heavily updated and improved version of the Honda Sensing Package, with the newest feature being the Lead Car Departure Notification System. That’s essentially a fancy way of saying that if the car ahead of you moves off from a dead stop, the system will gently alert you to start moving as well.

Highlighting that alone would be selling the system short, as there have also been changes to the spread and flexibility of Honda’s system, with a wider coverage area for the forward facing camera and radar systems that in turn helps advanced driver assistance features such as Forward Collision Warning or Lane Departure Warning function more effectively.

What We Wish We Could Talk About

For now, Honda Malaysia has implemented a strict embargo regarding any interior details of the all-new Honda Civic until its official launch – and there is plenty to talk about. More than the improved vehicle dynamics, powertrain, and safety systems, the interior of a car can make or break a product in quite nearly any market segment short of commercial vehicles.

Should You Wait For It?

If you’re in the market for a brand new car between the RM 100,000 and RM 200,000 mark, you should absolutely wait for the all-new 2022 Honda Civic to see if it suits your particular needs or lifestyle. As a product, it is possibly the freshest and most welcome change since a certain brand from Hiroshima unveiled their incredibly stylish offerings a few years ago. What’s even better is the fact that Honda Malaysia has now opened the order books, with the official launch slated for Q1 of 2022.