Collingwood, Ontario – The all-new 2016 Honda Civic sedan is so different from the current one that its appearance is rather shocking at first. Not only is it considerably bigger – 75 mm longer, 20 mm lower and 126 mm wider with a wheelbase that is 30 mm longer – but it has a much sportier bodystyle with prominent arches over the front wheels, a fastback roof line and high tail reminiscent of the current Civic Coupe. With its wider, lower stance and racier profile, the 2016 Civic sedan could be easily mistaken for an upmarket performance car.

At the 2016 Civic sedan’s introduction to the media in Collingwood, Ontario, North American Chief Engineer for R&D, Gary Evert explained that Honda wanted a more exciting look. “We wanted a futuristic appearance, athletic, aggressive and more premium looking. Even when it’s standing still, it looks like it’s moving,” he enthused.

I asked Evert why the 2016 model needed to be bigger than the last one. “We just needed it to compete with its competition,” said Evert. “This is the size we wanted it to be to do that.”

Virtually nothing has been carried over from the previous Civic: the 2016 Civic has a new platform, new suspension, new body, new interior, and two new engines including, for the first time, an available turbocharged engine.

The Civic’s improved performance begins with a new standard engine: a 158 hp 2.0L DOHC VTEC four-cylinder engine with port-injection (replacing the 143 hp 1.8L SOHC four) that’s offered in the DX, LX and EX trims. More significant is the introduction of an all-new 174 hp turbocharged 1.5L DOHC four with direct-injection, standard in the EX-T and Touring trims. This is the first time Honda has offered a turbocharged engine on the Civic in North America.

2016 Civic DX and LX trims come with a standard six-speed manual transmission (2015s had a five-speed manual) but the EX is no longer offered with a manual. The DX is not available with an automatic transmission, but the LX can be optioned with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) while EX trims with the 2.0L or 1.5T come standard with the CVT, as does the top Touring trim with the 1.5T.

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Though the Civic’s new engines now offer the most horsepower in their class, they also provide class-leading fuel economy, according to Honda. The 2.0L engine offers (l/100 km) ratings of 7.8 city/5.8 hwy/6.9 combined while the turbocharged 1.5T provides 7.6 city/5.5 hwy/6.7 combined. That compares to the 2015 Civic with 7.9/6.1/7.1. Interestingly, even the Civic’s new turbo engine offers slightly better fuel economy than some of its competitor’s naturally aspirated engines. The 2016 Toyota Corolla LE Eco, for example, has a combined rating of 6.8 L/100 km. Call me a cynic, but I’m skeptical that the Civic’s turbo engine can really offer that kind of fuel economy in the real world. It’s a subject that bears investigating in future test drives.

Honda provided us with a top-of-the-line Civic Touring 1.5T model for the day, but they only had one Civic LX 2.0 with the manual transmission available. We scurried back early from the day’s drive to get our hands on it, and it was worth it. (Note: this was a U.S. car in a red colour that is not available in Canada).

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