I had the opportunity to test drive the 2006 Honda Civic 1.8S and the 2006 Honda Civic 2.0S on a nice Saturday morning thanks to Jeremy and Shannon from the New Straits Times lifestyle section. I will attempt to chronicle my test drive experiences here, which involved a long highway drive to a “top secret” test drive location somewhere near Genting Highlands, traffic jams, town driving, twisty bends and curves, overtaking, as well as bumpy road conditions. That should pretty much cover everything you could possibly want to do with this car, save for taking it to a track day. This is part one of a three part series.
The 2006 Honda Civic is one of those rare cars that looks even better in real life than on photos. I think it’s safe to say that normally what you see on photos are the results of good photography, the right angles, and a wee bit of photoshop. But no, the Civic is the opposite. It looks nice on photos, but even better in real life. The Honda Civic is such a looker that at one point I was so mesmerized with it’s beauty that I just had to drop to my knees… … … to get a better angle and take a photo with my camera. What were you thinking?
The new Civic is a lot larger than all of its predecessors, and is pretty much invading Honda Accord territory. It’s like a mini Accord. I would dare say it’s about the same size as the old SV4/CD5/CD6 Honda Accord. I like what Honda has done with the Asian market Civic. I don’t quite fancy the US version. As for the Euro version while a novelty at first, is just too space-age for even a young guy like me. The Asian 2006 Honda Civic car looks sporty with it’s wide stance and aggresive front look. Even though it is not low enough for you to begin scraping the undercarriage over speed bumps, it looks low enough thanks to the minimal gap between the tyres and wheel arches.
If you step into the 2006 Honda Civic, you will immediately notice how deep the dashboard is. It’s typical of a cabin-forward design due to the windscreen angle. You could probably stack a lot of soft toys there, though I highly recommend against such travesty to such a fine car. The dual-tiered dashboard takes some getting used to but is actually extremely functional, to a certain extent. Where it failed, I will explain later.
At the top tier, you have a digital speedometer in the middle. This is flanked by a digital temperature indicator on the left, and a fuel level indicator on the right. That’s basically everything you need to monitor often while driving. The top tier is positioned the at the deepest and highest location of the dashboard, nearest to the windscreen. This might sound like a gimmick but it’s actually very functional. It works alot better than the centrally located dashboard rubbish that every other manufacturer has been resorting to to help the driver keep their eyes on the road.
The bottom tier has a tachometer showing your engine RPM. The tachometer is flanked by gear indications on the right and a multitude of indicators like ABS, seatbelt, engine check, just about anything under the sun on the left. At the bottom of the tachometer is a trip meter which features two trip counters. The choice of the display colors is also excellent. White text on a blue background. Blue makes a very good background color because it is actually one of the colours which the eye finds hard to focus on. On the other hand, white is easy to focus on The meters are very clear even in daylight, and there is a control for you to set the brightness.
At first, I thought the digital speedometer’s numbers would change too fast at cruising speed and be an eye sore to look at, but I found that small changes in speed actually refreshed slower, and faster acceleration caused the speed to update faster. This might be a neat trick in the display programming, or just a mental illusion on my part, but the point is it’s pleasant to read.
I like the three spoke steering wheel that Honda gave the Asian Honda Civic. I’ve noticed the US and UK versions get some really dodgy two spoke steering wheel design. Seriously, if you expect the car to give out a sporty feel, you need a three spoke steering wheel. The steering wheel is one item on the interior that you come in contact with the most, so a cheap steering wheel gives you a bad impression of the interior no matter how well built everything else is. Fortunately for Honda, the steering wheel has excellent build quality, except for the audio control buttons and the paddle shifters on the 2.0S which feel abit cheap. I will come to the build quality later.
Firewall position, somewhere around there!
The cabin design gives me a lot of legroom in the front. Very comfortable in both the passanger and driver seats. Rear legroom was commendable as well. I myself have sat in the current generation Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla Altis before, and this 2006 Honda Civic beats the other two flat. I am not sure how it compares to the Ford Focus Ghia 1.8 though. I checked out the glove box and found that despite the really deep dashboard, the glovebox was tiny. So I wondered what was in all that space in the dashboard for? I found out later that the firewall was actually in the middle of the deep dashboard.
Bathroom towel fabric. I prefer the 2.0S leather.
Even more bathroom towel fabric everywhere.
I love the blue-black interior of the Honda Civic 2.0S. It has leather seats, though they do not really feel like leather at all. More like PVC, but nice nevertheless. Honda advertises it as blue leather, and my previous posts on the Civic specifications showed blue leather, but when I first got in, I thought it was black. It’s actually a really dark blue mixed with black kind of colour. The Honda Civic 1.8S has a horrible interior by comparison. The trim was filled with this beige cream towel-like fabric. It isn’t your normal cushion fabric you find in Protons, but this one had the texture of a towel, litreally. I felt like I was sitting in a bathroom. I also expect this fabric trim to get dirty really really fast. Just imagine running to the car in the rain and sitting on the seat with damp clothes. Hell to pay in sight and smell later. I am a hardcore advocate of leather seats, they’re easy to clean and wipe, especially when you have drunk friends who threaten to puke all over your car interior all the time. Did I say drunk friends? I meant children. And by puke, I meant general dirty things.
The sound system is abit bass-heavy, and like most cars pretty much all the sound is coming from the rear even though there are front speakers as well. Playing around with the treble, bass, and fader controls fixed this to an acceptable level. Other than that, it’s a very nice stock sound system, with room for improvement. The system also had an aux input, and we tried it out by hooking up an iPod to it. It worked perfectly, and we played Metallica’s S&M album throughout the journey. The aux input is a very nice feature. No need for FM tuner gadgets like the iTrip or other imitation devices to hook up your iPod or other music players. The CD player’s button layout was very easy to use. You just operate the big knobs by push and turn.
More in part 2 and part 3, with my driving experiences as well as what I think of the overall build quality.