Mid-life Civic update includes the customary changes to headlights, grille and bumpers. New Sport (not shown) gets a black mesh lower grille

Mid-life Civic update includes the customary changes to headlights, grille and bumpers. New Sport (not shown) gets a black mesh lower grille

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Honda UK has started selling its 2015 Civic line with updated styling; new suspension, additional safety equipment and a new infotainment system plus an additional, largely cosmetic Sport hatchback version, a curtain raiser for the upcoming Type-R due out later this year.

The update, a facelift for a model line first launched in 2012, looking much like its 2006-2011 predecessor, was first revealed at the 2014 Paris show. The cars are built at Honda's plant in Swindon, England.

Styling

Both the Civic hatchback and Tourer (wagon) have front exterior design enhancements that provide a distinctive new face for the model, highlighted by new headlamps with integrated day running lights and a restyled front bumper. The hatchback also gains a new rear bumper and side skirts, a rear spoiler finished in black and LED combination lamps.

Inside are new seat fabrics and stitching on the headrests, new door trims with chrome door handles and a control panel finished in metallic black.

Honda is very proud of its new Connect in-car audio and information system which combines AM/FM, DAB digital plus internet radio, Bluetooth connectivity, internet browsing, (optional) Garmin satellite navigation and CD player plus a rear view camera.

It is compatible with Android 4.0.4, the world’s most popular smartphone operating system, and features familiar pinch, swipe and tap functionality – all accessed through a seven-inch display screen.

Connect is also MirrorLink-enabled, delivering seamless connectivity between the system and the user’s smartphone – provided it is compatible. This technology enables the user to mirror their smartphone display and gain access to their smartphone applications.

Occupants can also connect to the internet through Smartphone Wifi tethering or Mobile Wifi Router, allowing for full internet browsing while in the car using the smartphone data connection, provided it is stationary, making it possible to search for local amenities or learn about landmarks near to the vehicle’s location. The system comes with a range of pre-installed apps and the user can download other apps from a Honda App Centre.

We've been trying it in the also just-facelifted CR-V SUV and the system works well with a basic home screen customisable like an Android phone's (our peasant grade Android phones aren't Mirror Link compatible) - the only issue noted so far is quick adjustment of satnav voice instructions volume which can't easily be done on the move - it's a settings menu item. The colour graphics display is very attractive.

New suspension and active safety

New suspension and active safety includes enhancements to the Agile Handling Assist and Vehicle Stability Assist systems.

When required, Agile Handling Assist applies a light braking force, imperceptible to the driver, to individual wheels during cornering to maximise vehicle responsiveness and stability. The updated Vehicle Stability Assist system works with Agile Handling Assist to maximise traction when cornering or during acceleration on slippery surfaces by modulating brake and throttle to ensure the vehicle remains on its selected course. The Vehicle Stability Assist system system also enhances brake pedal feel.

Each model in the 2015 Civic range has the City-Brake Active system, as standard, whereas it was previously an option. Specifically designed to help avoid or mitigate low speed accidents, the system uses radar technology to scan the road ahead, automatically applying the brakes if an imminent risk of collision is detected. The system is engineered to operate at speeds below 20mph.

Honda expects the Civic to drop two UK insurance groups as a result.   

Electric power steering  has been retuned in order to improve the vehicle’s steering response at high speed (approx 70mph).

Design changes to the exterior of the 2015 Civic not only boost the car’s visual appeal but reduce lift. Revisions to the front bumper, hood and rear spoiler improve steering response and stability, particularly at high speeds. 

New Civic Sport derivative

The new Sport versions is based on the Civic hatchback and comes with the 120PS, 1.6 litre, diesel engine or 1.8 litre, 142 PS petrol and includes a unique colour-coded rear spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels. 

Design characteristics shared with the upcoming Type R uber sports version include a new front bumper featuring a lower grille mesh and a black roof lining for the cabin.

Engines

The 2015 UK Civic range offers the relatively new 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel (which in 120PS and 160PS tune replaces an older 2.2-litre motor across the full Honda UK model range), or 1.4-litre and 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrol engines.  All have been re-certified for Euro6 emissions.

The 1.8-litre i-VTEC offers a rather outdated five-speed automatic transmission option while most manuals get six speeds.

Standard Eco Assist technology helps owners drive at optimum efficiency. Based on Honda’s own research and insight that different driving styles can create as much as a 15% variance in fuel economy, the system uses the car’s speedometer to advise drivers how their driving style is impacting on fuel economy. 

If the car is being driven economically, the dashboard glows green. If the driver slightly exceeds the best level of throttle control, the dashboard will glow white/green. Finally, during heavy acceleration and deceleration, it will glow white. The system is further enhanced with the option of ECON mode, which once activated alters the mapping of the drive by wire throttle system to ensure a smooth increase in torque for a more relaxing drive and greater fuel efficiency.

To further enhance efficiency, Idle Stop technology is standard on all manual transmission Civics. It offers seamless operation that can contribute to a five grams per kilometre of CO2 saving for the diesel variant. When the driver reaches a standstill and selects neutral, the engine will automatically stop when the clutch is released. The engine automatically restarts when the driver engages the clutch to select a gear. A display on the dashboard indicates operation.

A special, highly-durable starter motor copes with the increased number of starts.

Honda claims class-leading luggage space for the C-segment Tourer wagon. With the rear seats up, it offers 624 litres of volume, up to the tonneau cover; accommodating three large suitcases with the cover pulled over. With the rear seats down, it offers 1,668 litres of space up to the roof lining.  

Honda’s unique centre fuel tank layout - the tank is located under the front seats - allows the Civic's Jazz-like Magic Seat interior. The rear seat assembly folds down in one movement, and the interior trunk floor has been raised to create a completely flat area when the seats are folded down. The rear seat cushions can also be flipped up to carry tall objects. A 60:40 split in the seat base offers more options for carrying both people and cargo, and provides an alternative load area if access via the tailgate is limited. 

Advanced Driving Assist Systems

A new suite of sensor-based active safety systems standard or optional for the Civic uses a combination of cameras, short-range 'lidar' (laser radar) and radar technologies.

As well as the City-Brake Active system, there is High Beam Support to switch high beam head lights on or off automatically depending on oncoming/preceding vehicles (cars, trucks and motorcycles), bicycles and environmental brightness.

Lane Departure Warning uses the multi-purpose camera to track lane markings on the road. If the car deviates from its current lane without indicating, this alerts the driver with audible and visual warnings. The system operates at speeds of more than 40mph where the road has a curve radius of 250 metres or more.

Traffic Sign Recognition uses the multi-purpose camera to detect road signs whenever the vehicle is moving forward. The system automatically recognises and displays the signs via the intelligent Multi Information Display (i-MID) once the vehicle has passed the sign.

The system is designed to detect circular road signs displaying speed limits and 'No Passing' nformation. Two road signs can be displayed at any one time – the right side of the display only shows speed limit signs and the left side is for 'No Passing' signs and speed limits with additional information, such as weather conditions.

Blind Spot Information uses radar technology to automatically detect vehicles in the driver’s blind spot and warn of potential dangers when the vehicle is travelling at speeds of more than 12mph. The system is designed to detect cars and trucks and can help to support drivers in situations such as passing other vehicles and merging or changing lanes.

When a vehicle enters the driver’s blind spot a visual warning is displayed on the door mirror. This remains until the vehicle leaves the blind spot. If the driver operates the indicator whilst the vehicle is in the blind spot, the visual warning will blink and an audible warning will also sound.

The Cross Traffic Monitor system uses rear side radar sensors to warn the driver of approaching vehicles when reversing. The direction of an approaching vehicle is shown either on the rear view camera screen or displayed using arrows showing the direction of the travelling vehicle on the i-MID and an audible warning sound. The system is designed to detect cars and trucks travelling up to 15mph.

Pedestrian Injury Mitigation Design features include windscreen wiper pivots designed to break away on impact, energy absorbing front wing mounts and bonnet hinges, as well as an unobstructed area beneath the bonnet allowing greater space for deformation.

UK and Europe sales

Honda UK sold 17,164 new cars in the UK in the first three months of 2015, down 6.03% year on year, for a 2.34% market share (2.65%).

According to LMC Automotive, Honda sold 169,000 cars in Europe last year, down from 185,000 in 2013. LMC is forecasting a flat 169,000 for 2015.

Of those, 54,000 were Civic and 68,000 CRV in 2014, compared with 58,000 and 70,000 in 2013. LMC forecast 52,000 Civic sales and 54,000 CR-Vs for 2015.