Test Drive: 2012 Honda Civic EX Coupe car test drives reviews honda
2012 Honda Civic EX coupe. Click image to enlarge

To the left of the steering wheel is an “eco” button, used to select more efficient fuel consumption (less throttle response, lower output air conditioning). Handily, the Civic will default to the mode in which it was last driven; pressing the button en route simply turns “eco” on or off. The Civic also features instrument-panel graphics that modulate from blue to green as you drive, with green representing the most economical driving style. This is always on, regardless of the mode selected.

While the seats are comfortable, and the interior is bright and pleasant, there is an abundance of hard plastic panels that give the cabin a rather spartan appearance, especially across the expansive dashboard and on the upper panels of the doors. Actually, the texture is pleasant enough, but maybe if the panels had less gloss they would look a little richer.

For a compact-sized coupe, the 331-litre trunk is surprisingly useful, and cargo space can be increased when required by folding the 60/40 split rear seats (achieved via the handy releases in the trunk).

Test Drive: 2012 Honda Civic EX Coupe car test drives reviews honda
2012 Honda Civic EX coupe. Click image to enlarge

On the road, you can understand why the Civic is so popular. All the controls are light and precise, with steering, braking and gear changes effected with the slightest of effort. The car is very easy to drive, feeling at once sturdy but nimble. It has excellent outward visibility enhanced this year by enlarging the glass at the front of each door while the A-pillars are slimmer.

The engine is very smooth and quiet, and the clutch and shifter are so light and precise that shifting is no chore at all. If you want to teach someone how to use a manual transmission, the Civic is the vehicle in which to do it.

In approximately 200 kilometres of city driving, the Civic Coupe returned 6.8 L/100 km, mostly in the “eco” mode (official estimates are 7.2/5.4 L/100 km, city/highway). I didn’t find this mode detracted from the driving experience in any significant way, and Honda Canada confirms that that if you require maximum acceleration, the system will revert to its normal (eco-off) mode automatically.

Because rear seat passenger room is limited, the overall practicality of the coupe comes into question. I guess one buys it because one likes the look of it, but the penalty is that adult passengers may have to tilt their heads in order to sit in the back seat, and nobody wants to do that for long.

Test Drive: 2012 Honda Civic EX Coupe car test drives reviews honda
2012 Honda Civic EX coupe. Click image to enlarge

To make up for the confined rear cabin, wouldn’t it be nice if the Civic Coupe was a hatchback? But I guess this body style is not popular, and maybe there are issues with body rigidity and crash test results. Still, to me it would make the car much more versatile, and you’d get a windshield wiper on that big rear window.

The 2012 Honda Civic Coupe offers Honda’s celebrated reliability and high resale values in a package that is more youthful than the sedan. Fact is, the contenders in this segment don’t offer coupes, let alone a high performance variant like the Civic Si. With the Civic Coupe you can make the point that you’re a sensible car buyer (you bought a Civic), but you’re not a slave to practicality (you bought a coupe!).

Given the race that’s running right now, the tail end of 2011 is surely a good time to buy a 2012 Civic, as I’m certain Honda Canada wants to hold on to their “best selling car in Canada” status. Will Honda have enough cars on the showroom floor? That’s another question. But it will be the rare buyer who is dissatisfied with the Honda Civic. It is still a top compact car choice.

Pricing: 2012 Honda Civic EX Coupe
  • Base price: $19,990
  • Options: None
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Freight: $1,395
  • Price as tested: $21,485

    Specifications
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2012 Honda Civic

    Competitors
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2012 Fiat 500
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2011 Kia Forte
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2011 Scion tC

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)



  • About Paul Williams

    Paul Williams is an Ottawa-based freelance automotive writer and senior writer for Autos. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).