June 4, 2014
2014 Honda Civic Coupe. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Mark Stevenson
As I left the world of college in the rear-view mirror, one of my first stops in adult life was at a local Honda dealer. It was there I learned some of the many deceptive dealer tactics while purchasing my second ever car, a 2000 Honda Civic Coupe in Si trim (not to be confused with the B-series powered SiR). It ferried me to and from work while doing double duty as a pizza delivery car in the evenings as I struggled to make ends meet.
Equipped with a five-speed manual, sunroof and electric windows (but no A/C) my little Si worked brilliantly, and while not fast, it was still a fun little car. That is until I ran it low on oil during a trip to Ontario. The inevitable engine swap and other associated repairs would become a money drain, eventually causing me to sell the silver two-door for a fraction of what it was worth.
However, I wish I still had that car. It was my own damn fault for neglecting it. The Civ’ put up with tons of abuse during my two years of ownership. And due to that it owed me nothing.
There was something magic about that little coupe. Maybe since it was my first time with a decent set of wheels, I felt as if I had earned its friendship. We clicked right from the start, and I truly miss that car.
It was with this feeling of nostalgia I climbed into the newest iteration of Honda’s compact two-door. This time I wouldn’t be rewarded with the duty of swapping cogs for myself as the test unit came equipped with the continuously variable transmission that’s all the rage these days.
Before I even set off, one issue became readily apparent.
I’m a tall guy, but not tall. Standing just over six feet, I’ve yet to find a car I didn’t fit inside in some fashion. Even the Mazda MX-5 affords me decent headroom with the top up. My old Civic Coupe of yore certainly gave me leg and headroom rivaling much larger sedans.
But the refreshed Civic Coupe didn’t. At least not with the included sunroof in EX trim.
As I sat in the driver’s seat with the height adjuster as far down as possible, my cranium made constant contact with the headliner, leaving me only one way I could drive this car. It wasn’t pretty.
Gangsta lean, engage!
Uncomfortable, and in a slightly bad mood about it, this week was not my favourite. If there’s one thing that drives me crazy, it’s being forced into a position that feels unnatural while driving. However, it does give an explanation as to why so many young male Civic drivers choose this pose.
Driving position aside, all other ergonomics are fairly spot-on. And the seat, even though it can’t be adjusted correctly, at least offers a degree of comfort I can live with.
2014 Honda Civic Coupe engine bay & 2014 Honda Civic Coupe dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Under the hood, the Civic’s four-pot has grown since I last owned one. The 1.8-litre SOHC i-VTEC motor isn’t as rev happy as the old D-series mill, but still produces decent motivation with 143 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque. With the CVT transmission in S-mode in the gear selector, it can even provide a little bit of run around town or on your daily commute while using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. It’s no rocket, but it’s no Corolla either.
The CVT doesn’t even deliver the best fuel economy, considering that’s its main reason for existence. During the one-week test, I averaged 8.9 L/100 km in mostly city driving with spurts of highway cruising. Sorry, but I expected much better, or at least a figure below the mid-8s returned by my Mazda3 long-term tester in winter driving (and it has a somewhat traditional six-speed automatic to work with).
2014 Honda Civic Coupe steering wheel & centre stack. Click image to enlarge
While styling is a subjective point, Honda hasn’t really been cracking out the best designs the last few years. When the latest generation Civic debuted for 2012, the overall consensus was Honda could have done much better. In 2013, after listening to numerous complaints, Honda rolled out an emergency refresh for the sedan, and in 2014 the same treatment is applied to the coupe.
The refresh has brought some welcomed changes to what was some very bland sheetmetal, though only so much can be done mid-cycle. The visual sportiness of the Civic has slowly drained away, offering only hints to what it once was during its heyday.
Glancing over the dash and other bits in the interior does give you some comfort Honda still knows how to build a car. Instrumentation is clear, though there’s no analog gauges, and the two screens (in the upper dash and centre console) provide necessary info. Materials are on par with others in the segment, but they won’t win any awards in the design department (Toyota and Mazda seem to have that locked down in the compact class).
2014 Honda Civic Coupe trunk, 2014 Honda Civic Coupe rear seats, 2014 Honda Civic Coupe front seats. Click image to enlarge
While Honda has the breadth of knowledge to build cars, motorcycles, ATVs, and marine engines, they seem to be lacking in the infotainment department. All Honda and Acura products suffer from infotainment systems seemingly designed in 2002. Even the Acura MDX, which took home Utility of the Year honours from AJAC this year, carries this Achilles heel.
Underneath it all, Honda has done one thing right. The Civic Coupe’s suspension isn’t rock hard like other pseudo sports cars or compact wannabes (I’m looking at you, last generation Kia Soul). Instead, damping and ride take precedence, while still delivering acceptable handling for the 99 percent of buyers who won’t take their Civic to a track day.
The end of my weeklong test saw the Civic disappear along with my nostalgia. And this isn’t even a matter of a car being made ‘better’ and losing some of its charm. Except for more power from a larger engine, the rest of the car seems half-baked and not well thought out.
It’s really too bad. I was rooting for you, Honda. I really was.
Pricing: 2014 Honda Civic Coupe
Base Price: $18,995
Base Price (EX): $20,955
Options: Continuously variable transmission – $1,300
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $23,850
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