2012 Honda Civic EX coupe
2012 Honda Civic EX coupe. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2012 Honda Civic

The Honda Civic’s winning streak of 13 years as Canada’s top selling car is unlikely to be matched… maybe ever. It’s a heck of a record, that’s for sure.

As you might expect, the Civic is again galloping toward the December 31st finish line ahead of its competition, but this year things are different. First of all, it’s a thoroughbred field, with the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and successful Chevrolet Cruze putting up great numbers. Adding to the challenge, Honda has had a few setbacks that are hobbling its prize filly. First, there was the earthquake in Japan that affected access to key components, slowing production. Then the all-new 2012 Civic turned out to be somewhat less exciting than expected, and now there’s flooding in Thailand that is also affecting production of new Honda vehicles, even though the cars are built in Alliston, Ontario.

2012 Honda Civic EX coupe
2012 Honda Civic EX coupe. Click image to enlarge

And there’s one more variable to consider, in the form of a hard-charging nag from a Korean car maker Hyundai. It’s the Elantra — all-new, voluptuously skinned, packed with features and coming up fast on the outside. This year it could come down to the wire!

The 2012 Honda Civic is no has-been, though. Yes, it appears quite similar to the outgoing model, but the Civic was ahead of its time back in 2006, and with lower pricing for 2012, it continues to be a splendid driving machine into this new generation.

Powered with a 1.8-litre, 140-horsepower, four-cylinder engine — a slightly refined carry-over from the outgoing model — the Civic has just the right blend of power and weight to offer peppy performance, agile handling and excellent fuel economy. Most Civic buyers will opt for the sedan, but the two-door coupe — the subject of this test drive — provides a sportier-looking alternative, while retaining the sedan’s performance and driving dynamics.

Like the sedans, the 1.8-litre Honda Civic Coupes can be purchased in LX, EX and EX-L trim levels (although there’s no base DX Coupe, as there is with the Sedan), with a starting price of $17,990 plus $1,395 freight ($19,385) for the LX version. Our $19,990 ($21,385 with freight) EX five-speed manual test car added the sunroof, 16-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, exterior temperature gauge and rear disc brakes to the LX’s standard features like the new multi-information display, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, power windows and power mirrors.

2012 Honda Civic EX coupe
2012 Honda Civic EX coupe. Click image to enlarge

Exterior changes compared with the 2006-2011 models are subtle, and most obvious at the rear. There, the lights are quite different, making it easy to tell the 2011 from the 2012 version. At the front, there are likewise changes to the lights, and a new treatment for the front fascia. Honda says all the sheetmetal is modified, providing a more aerodynamic shape to reduce cabin noise and fuel consumption.

Inside, the cabin is roomy for front-seat occupants and sufficient for children in the rear. The front seats don’t automatically slide forward to help entering and exiting the rear, but typical of coupes, the doors are larger than those found on a sedan, so the opening is wider.

The bi-level instrument layout (digital speedometer; analog tachometer) carries over from the previous generation and is clear and easy to read. The speedometer is positioned like a head-up display and works very well. The size and prominence of the centrally-located tachometer seem out of proportion to its utility, in my view.

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