2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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The Honda Civic Coupe, which was all-new for 2006, is offered in two distinct models: the standard coupe in three trim levels: DX ($17,180), LX ($20,780) and EX trim ($22,680) with a standard 140 horsepower 1.8-litre four-cylinder motor and five-speed manual transmission; and the high-performance Si Coupe ($26,080) with a 197-hp 2.0-litre engine and standard six-speed manual transmission. While much of the media’s attention has focused on the flashy Si, I decided to test drive the basic DX coupe with a manual transmission ($17,180) and a few popular options. With a suggested retail price under $20,000, this is a very affordable sporty coupe.

The Coupe received a major styling update for 2006. With its aerodynamic nose, steeply raked windshield, and sweeping roofline, the Civic Coupe is a very stylish car. Since ‘Styling’ is the main reason that people buy coupes – practical people buy four-door Civic sedans – the Civic Coupe has a lot going for it right off the bat.

2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe. Click image to enlarge

It’s also priced well. The base Civic Coupe DX’s base price of $17,180 includes a 140-horsepower 1.8-litre SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine and manual five-speed transmission, 15-inch tires, front disc/rear drum brakes with ABS, front, side and curtain airbags, power windows, power mirrors, 160 watt AM/FM/CD/WMA stereo with four speakers, and folding rear seatback.

My test car was the DX-G model ($19,330) with air conditioning, power door locks, remote entry, and auxiliary input jack for MP3 or iPod. Add $1,225 for Freight charges and $100 for A/C tax and the as-tested price of my test car came to $20,655.

Driving impressions

The Civic Coupe’s 1.8-litre engine is smoother and quieter than you might expect in a sporty coupe, and revs freely into the 5000-rpm rev range up to its redline of 6300 rpm. Its variable valve timing system, known as i-VTEC, provides more responsiveness at low speeds while allowing it to breathe freely at higher revs. It’s certainly not the screaming, high-revving 2.0-litre powerplant found in the Coupe Si, but performance is still brisk.

2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe. Click image to enlarge

As the Civic Coupe DX is about 19 kg (42 lbs) lighter than the Civic sedan DX and has the same amount of horsepower, the Coupe is about a second quicker from 0 to 100 km/h (est 8.5 secs vs 9.5 secs), and offers better highway passing power. Cruising on the freeway, the engine turns over 2800 rpm @ 100 km/h in fifth gear, and 3300 rpm at 120 km/h. This is higher than some four-cylinder engines, but the engine is nevertheless smooth and quiet.

To me, the most appealing thing about the base Civic Coupe is that it’s sporty and economical. Official fuel consumption figures with the five-speed manual transmission are 7.8 L/100 km city (36 mpg Imp.) and 5.7 L/100 km (50 mpg Imp.) on the highway. With the optional five-speed automatic transmission ($1,200) the figures are 8.2 L/100 km (34 mpg Imp.) and 5.7 L/100 km (50 mpg Imp.). That’s thrifty!

2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe. Click image to enlarge

I had an issue with the manual transmission though: while shift action is easy, if a bit clunky, and clutch effort is light, the car lurches back and forth when changing gears, particularly from 1st to 2nd. I found it difficult to make smooth shifts.

The base Coupe has power assisted rack and pinion steering, not the electric variable assist rack and pinion steering found in the Si Coupe. Still, I found it quick and responsive with enough boost to turn the wheel easily at parking lot speeds. And the Coupe has a tight 10.8-metre (35.4 feet) turning diameter.

Though the base coupe has rear drum brakes (the Si has discs on all four wheels), ABS and electronic brake differential are standard, and I found the Coupe’s braking performance to be excellent.

2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe. Click image to enlarge

I expected a harsher ride in the coupe, but its independent suspension (front MacPherson struts/rear multi links) offers a comfortable ride with some bounciness caused by stiffer shocks. The Civic’s body feels very tight, imparting a seat-of-the-pants feeling of quality. The standard P195/65R15 all-season tires with steel wheels provide adequate grip when cornering but I would rather have had the wider P205/55R16 all-season tires offered on the LX and EX Coupes. Unfortunately, they’re not available on the DX.

Stability and traction control are not offered, but in a 140-hp front-wheel drive coupe with a tendency to understeer when cornering limits are reached, they’re not really necessary.

A little unexpected was how quiet the cabin was. I heard some tire noise coming from the rear, but experienced very little wind or engine noise in the cabin at cruising speeds.

2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe. Click image to enlarge


Interior impressions

As with most two-door coupes, the Civic Coupe’s doors are long and are awkward to open when parked next to another car in a parking lot. The Coupe’s interior is not as roomy as the Civic sedan, primarily because the wheelbase is two inches shorter and the roof is three inches lower. The Coupe’s interior passenger volume of 83.7 cu. ft. compares to the sedan’s 90.9 cu. ft.

The front seats are very comfortable though: they have extra-large side and thigh bolsters, and during my week with the Civic Coupe, I found they provided excellent support when cornering. Most drivers will be able to find a comfortable seating position since the driver’s seat has a manual height adjuster and the steering wheel both tilts and telescopes.

Rear legroom is tighter than in the sedan, and getting into the rear seat is a chore because the right front passenger seat doesn’t slide forwards automatically when the seatback is lowered. But unlike in some coupes, the rear seat has seatbelts for three, not two rear passengers.

The driver’s visibility to the front and sides is very good, but the high rear trunklid makes reversing into a parking space difficult.

I didn’t like the Civic’s unique two-tiered instrument layout when I first drove the coupe last year, but it is starting to grow on me. The large white and blue digital speedo on top of the dash is easy to read at a glance while driving, even on a bright, sunny day with sunglasses on. The more conventionally placed analogue tachometer behind the steering wheel is also an easy-read because of its bright backlighting. The same cannot be said of the central radio LCD display which almost disappears if you’re wearing polarized sunglasses.

I liked the Coupe’s small, grippy steering wheel which has a soft, spongy rim. The centre instrument panel protrudes outwards making it easy to reach and the large dials and buttons are clearly marked. The lower centre console includes two open storage areas and a 12-volt power outlet.

2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe. Click image to enlarge

The shift lever for the manual transmission is positioned fairly high up and is easy to reach, and the handbrake lever is close to the driver’s thigh, making it easy to engage when starting off on a steep hill.

Between the front seats are two cupholders with a sliding cover, a coin holder, and a sliding centre armrest with a fairly big storage area that will hold up to 25 CDs. There’s also a coin box to the left of the steering wheel.

The rear seat includes a single folding rear seatback, but split 60/40 folding rear seatbacks are only available on LX and EX coupes. That means, in the DX, you cannot transport one or two rear passengers plus your new floor lamp at the same time.

A couple of minor quibbles about the interior: the intermittent wipers in the DX are two-speed, not variable (LX, EX); and after the ignition is turned off, the power windows won’t operate. Many vehicles now offer delayed electrical power to close windows and sunroofs after the ignition is turned off.

2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe
2006 Honda Civic DX Coupe. Click image to enlarge

The Civic Coupe’s trunk is comparatively large for a coupe (325 litres (11.5 cu. ft.), only 0.5 cu. ft. less than the Civic sedan.

For a car in its price range, the Civic Coupe offers a good range of standard safety equipment, including front, side and curtain airbags, active front head restraints, anti-lock brakes, and a newly-designed body structure designed for better vehicle-to-vehicle crash compatibility and collision energy management. It’s also designed to reduce pedestrian injuries: the Civic’s hood and fender areas are designed to deform if contacted by the head of an adult or child. Features include energy-absorbing collapsible hood supports, wiper arms and fender mounts.


Verdict

For under $20,000, the base Civic Coupe DX offers sporty styling, quick steering and nimble handling, good safety features, and excellent fuel economy. My dislikes included awkward access to the rear seat, and with the manual transmission, a jerky drivetrain.

The Honda Civic Coupe is assembled in Alliston, Ontario.


Pricing


Specifications

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