Honda is in the midst of an aggressive product launch, with five all-new models and two substantially revised vehicles hitting showrooms in less than 2 years. Many of these vehicles are also top sellers in their respective categories, suggesting the automaker’s efforts are working to grow Honda’s visibility and reach in today’s highly-competitive new-car market. And while Honda’s overall sales were up modestly (2.6 percent) in 2015, at Kelley Blue Book we tracked the brand’s transaction price growth at 2.7 percent. That’s higher than
Don’t expect the product parade to slow down. Beyond the upcoming Ridgeline truck and Odyssey minivan makeovers there’s the small matter of Honda’s small car, the Civic. This model has generated big sales numbers for decades, and the latest version, all-new for 2016, will come in more forms than any Civic before it. We’ve already discussed the sedan version, which hit showrooms last fall and is now leading the compact car segment in sales. The 2016 Civic sedan is a massive leap forward, essentially redefining the small car with regard to quality, refinement and advanced technology. In fact it was good enough to win 2016 North American Car of Year. Now comes the 2016 Honda Civic Coupe, featuring all the same goodness in a sportier package.
Honda’s representatives told us the Civic Coupe is the style and design lead for the Civic line. Compared to the sedan the coupe appeals to a younger, more active and more educated demographic. It’s also more likely to feed into larger Honda models by generating higher brand loyalty. The expressive exterior design language is clear at first glance, with the Civic Coupe having a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase, 1.2-inch shorter front overhang and 5.4-inch shorter rear overhang versus the new sedan. The roof is also 0.8 inches lower, and with the standard 16-inch alloy wheels on a base LX trim (17-inch wheels are standard on EX and Touring trims) the Civic Coupe imparts a low and wide stance.
Like the sedan the Civic Coupe features two engine and transmission choices. The base 2.0-liter, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder produces 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque while delivering 30 city mpg, 41 highway mpg and 34 combined mpg. Those are class-leading fuel efficiency numbers, though horsepower and torque is lower than some competitors. Does this mean Civic Coupes with the base 2.0-liter feels underpowered? Not in the least. First, the normally-aspirated engine provides excellent low-end torque, and the power delivery through Honda’s continuously-variable transmission (CVT) is as good as any CVT on the market. Even better is the available (and highly engaging) 6-speed manual with this engine. Trust us, if you “settle” for a 2.0-liter version of the Civic Coupe you aren’t really settling.
But for Coupe buyers seeking maximum performance (at least until the Si and Type R versions arrive…) there’s Honda’s all-new 1.5-liter turbo engine offered in the EX and Touring trims. This four-cylinder offers slightly higher fuel efficiency than the 2.0-liter engine (31/41/35 mpg) while providing 174 peak horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Given all of these numbers are class leading one could argue Honda’s 1.5-liter turbo is the current state-of-the-art in small-car engines. Sadly, the turbo engine can’t be paired with the 6-speed manual, yet, though Honda says this option will appear soon.
Of course these engine specs are identical to the four-door version Civic. but the Coupe does feature a revised chassis with high-strength steel, 23 percent higher torsional rigidity and 75 percent higher body sealing versus the previous-gen coupe. The use of high-strength steel also resulted in a lighter chassis (76 pounds) with stronger suspension mounting points (28 percent stiffer in front, 35 percent stiffer in back). Honda expects the new Civic Coupe to achieve top safety scores from both NHTSA and IIHS.
The Coupe chassis’ increased strength is combined with more aggressive steering and suspension settings compared to the sedan. The variable ratio power steering has been adjusted to provide a more direct feel, and the McPherson strut front suspension and multilink rear suspension utilize stiffer dampers. All this is true even for the base Coupe LX compared to the sedan LX, and as shoppers move up trim levels to LX-P, EXT and Touring trims the springs and damper rates continue to rise. These changes manifested in reduced body roll, quicker steering and an overall bump in confidence when we drove the higher trim Civic Coupes along twisty roads.
One expects an improved exterior design and higher performance when switching from the sedan to the coupe version of a given model, but this switch usually means a substantial drop in practicality, too. We’re not about to claim the 2016 Civic Coupe is just as practical as its sedan brethren, but we were happily surprised by the level of interior space, particularly rear-seat space, Honda packed into its newest model. Rear headroom and cargo volume have both been improved compared to the previous-generation coupe, and while rear-seat access is never fun in a two-door vehicle my 6-foot frame found sufficient legroom, shoulder space and headroom once I was back there.
Other practical interior features, like the “Tech Center” console with an adjustable armrest and large, iPad-friendly storage bin make the Civic Coupe feel remarkably functional. The cabin’s interior looks and feels more upscale than the sedan, and premium features like remote engine start, an electronic parking brake, a 450-watt audio system, 3D navigation with real-time traffic, a power sunroof and
After several hours and a couple hundred miles with the 2016 Honda Civic Coupe we were as impressed with this version as we’d been last fall by the sedan. We do still wish Honda would provide dedicated knobs for volume and tuning control. Accessing these feature through the touch screen is just too cumbersome. And we’re anxiously awaiting the availability of the 6-speed manual paired with the 1.5-liter turbo engine. But these are minor sticking points on an otherwise world-class car. Honda has introduced yet another winner in a long line of winning product over the past year. The new 2016 Civic Coupe sets a high bar in the compact category. We’ll see how long it takes the competition to catch up.