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The 2016 Honda Civic was unveiled in the US a month ago with a brief outline of what to expect from the tenth-generation car. Since then, we’ve also seen a video walkaround of the all-new Civic for a good preview of the ASEAN-spec car, which will be largely similar to the US-spec car per Honda convention.

Now, Honda has released the full load of information and technical details on its most important new model not just for this year, but for the years to come. Plenty to chew on, so let’s go.

Honda says that the new Civic is one of the most comprehensive and ambitious new-model developments it has ever undertaken, requiring an unprecedented commitment of R&D resources and engineering prowess.

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The development of the Civic Sedan (coupe, hatchback and wagon bodies on the way, along with the Type R) was led by a North American team – a first for both Civic and Honda – but the overall Civic family involved design and engineering teams from Honda arms across the globe, especially in North America and Japan, but also in Europe, South America and Asia.

Following the jaw-dropping, revolutionary eight-gen FD, today’s outgoing FB Civic isn’t particularly inspiring and certainly won’t be remembered as one of the landmark generations. A big reboot was needed, which is why the tenth-gen is such a departure from the norm. Honda recognises as much, calling this car a “dynamic rejuvenation” and one that will be “in a league of its own”.

To do this, the company didn’t just benchmark it against traditional rivals (read mass market models like the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra/Sylphy, Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Cerato, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Jetta) but set out early during platform development to target “luxury compact class vehicles” as well. We take that to mean the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 segment.

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The luxury Europeans were used to as benchmarks for ride, handling, steering and NVH (noise, vibration and harshness), as well as interior quality and refinement. Impressive, considering the cost and selling price constraints of a mass market family car. In short, the promise is that this is “the sportiest Civic ever” and a new class benchmark for spaciousness, fuel efficiency, safety features, interior quality and dynamic performance.

What’s new? Everything. From vehicle architecture, design, shape, and interior; to two advanced new engines and a range of new “premium” features and technologies. No short of Civic, and even Honda, firsts too.

Dimensions

Let’s start with the body. At 4,630 mm long and 1,798 mm wide, the new Civic’s footprint is significantly larger than before, 105 mm longer and 43 mm wider to be exact. The wheelbase is now 2,700 mm, 30 mm longer than the FB and back to FD levels.

The only measurement down is height, less 20 mm from 1,435 mm to 1,415 mm. The front overhang has been reduced (by 36 mm) to improve both appearance and aerodynamics, while the rear overhang has been made longer (by 74 mm) for better storage capacity (FB Civic measurements used are from the Malaysian-spec car).

The boot is wider and deeper than before and holds 20.8% more at 428 litres. The load lip is lower and the opening is wider, Honda says. The new car’s boot can take in four soft suitcases or four golf bags – one more of each compared to the outgoing Civic. Even the trunk pass-through hole is 20.6% larger. It’s better for humans too; the 90.6 litres larger cabin is claimed to be class leading.

More rigid, more slippery

The larger body is more rigid too – bending rigidity is up 19% and torsional rigidity better by 23%. Honda used 59% high-strength steel and 14% ultra-high-strength steel, up from 55% and 1%, respectively. The benefits of increased stiffness include the ability to tune the suspension for better ride and handling performance, and a quieter, more comfortable ride.

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Rounding up the body improvements is aerodynamics, which is 12% more slippery than before and class leading, according to Honda. A smoother shape cuts through wind more easily and improves both fuel efficiency and interior quietness.

Big gains include a 15% reduction in drag (CdA) via underbody (flattest in any non-hybrid Honda) and engine-room airflow, and another 4% CdA reduction through wheel design. For the latter, lateral strakes located ahead of each wheel (8.5 inches wide in front, 3.5 inches wide in the rear) help deflect airflow around the tyres.

Also contributing to better NVH are an acoustic windshield, triple door sealing, door gap seals at the rear edges of the doors (first for Civic) and hydraulic mounts for the engine (front) and lower suspension, among other things. This is the most tightly sealed Civic body ever, with a 58% improvement in air leak performance over the previous car. The Civic’s quietness “challenges luxury-class compact-segment products” – we can’t wait to experience it.

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A note on the selectively-tempered “soft zone” technology used for the first time by Honda. This special forming technique allows the creation of specially tempered areas, or soft zones, within an ultra-high-strength hot-stamped steel part. As a result, simpler, lighter components can provide the appropriate energy pathways necessary to absorb crash forces. The process minimises both parts count and weight.

Another Honda first is the new crash stroke technology used in the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, developed at the company’s advanced safety research lab in Ohio. With the new crash stroke structure, in a frontal collision the lower section of the front vehicle frame hinges to direct the engine down and rearward, helping direct crash energy into the vehicle’s floor while minimising cabin intrusion. 80 mm of additional energy-absorbing “crash stroke” have been added to the front of the Civic.

Besides better safety, the new crash stroke structure enabled designers to give the Civic a short front overhang and short hood-line, which improves looks, outward visibility and handling. So, the body is larger and stiffer, but we’re also looking at a 31 kg reduction in unibody weight.

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Chassis

Moving on to the bits that are attached to the body. Big claims here as well, with Honda saying that the 2016 Civic’s handling is best in class and now in the league of benchmarked European premium sedans.

The suspension retains the front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link setup, but the latter is now mounted on a rigid subframe, a first for the Civic. It provides agile handling, both during normal driving and in emergency manoeuvres, together with a flat ride, Honda says. Rigid aluminum rear damper brackets further improve ride quality.

Also new on the model are larger stabiliser bars with bonded bushings for more refined body control. The 2016 Civic’s centre of gravity is 14 mm lower. A lower CoG is of course better for handling.

In a first for Honda, the new Civic’s suspension uses fluid-filled bushings (front ventilated and standard across the board, rear for higher trims) for better ride comfort and reduced vibrations. A duct located near the middle of the aluminium front under-panel cools the engine’s torque rod bushing.

Another Civic first, the electric power steering (EPS) incorporates dual-pinion gears and a variable gear ratio for improved steering feel, performance and comfort. Compared to the regular single-pinion system, the dual-pinion EPS utilises the physical input from the driver as well as from a supplemental electric motor. A non-contact torque sensor measures the driver’s effort and an ECU determines how much electric motor assist to add. Sounds complex, but Honda promises a seamless, natural feeling.

The steering ratio is variable over a 17% range with a final full off-centre rotation ratio of 10.93:1. This provides a quick 2.2 turns lock-to-lock (compared to 3.1 turns previously), significantly reducing steering effort when parking or manoeuvring. A stiffer steering mount and bigger diameter steering column (from 22 to 30 mm) are other improvements.

More assistance comes in the form of Straight Driving Assist (SDA), which reduces the steering effort required when driving on a sloped or crowned road. Help comes from the above-mentioned EPS electric motor. For corners, Agile Handling Assist uses brake vectoring to improve corner traceability. By applying braking force to the inside wheels during cornering at high lateral Gs, understeer is reduced. AHA is standard across the range, as is the centre console space saving electronic parking brake.

Speaking of brakes, the new Civic also has an Automatic Brake Hold function that steps on the brake for you, so to speak. Indicated by a green “Brake Hold” icon on the instrument panel, this function will prove useful in traffic jams.

Lastly, the new Civic rides on 16- and 17-inch wheels, with 215/55 rubber for the smaller rims and 215/50 tyres for the larger alloys. The US-market gets a space-saver spare tyre.

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New engines, CVT gearbox

There will be two new Earth Dreams tech engines – a 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated DOHC motor and a downsized 1.5 litre turbocharged unit. The NA engine makes 158 hp at 6,500 rpm and 187 Nm at 4,200 rpm, while the 1.5 turbo pushes out 174 hp at 5,500 rpm and 220 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm.

Both engines can be paired with an updated CVT automatic gearbox (new-gen G-Design shift logic). A six-speed manual is available for the 2.0L, one cog more than the old stick shift. Sorry, no turbo-manual combo. A full, detailed look at engines and transmissions here.

Also check out original accessories for the 2016 Civic and a mega 160-pic hi-res gallery after the jump.