Driving impressions 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid Motor Trader Car News

8 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Driving impressions 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid Motor Trader Car News отключены
Honda hybrid Civic

Driving impressions: 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid

Group Managing Editor

Price: RM119,980

Tech Highlights: 1497 cc I4 i-VTEC petrol SOHC engine with Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) electric motor; 110 ps; 172 Nm (outputs are for engine + electric motor); lithium-ion battery pack, CVT

Hybrid variant of the latest Honda Civic generation . As with earlier generations, the Civic Hybrid shares a lot with the petrol-engined variants, making it less costly to produce compared to Toyota’s hybrids which are unique designs. To distinguish the hybrid variant from the others, there are exclusive cosmetic features like blue trim in the headlight units and on the grille and a more distinctive tail lights with a LED ‘signature’ strip.  The wheels are also lighter and have a design that enhances aerodynamics (though one wonders if brake cooling is as efficient).

For this generation, the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) powertrain, which is what Honda calls its hybrid package, has been improved in various areas. The most significant is the switch to a lithium-ion type of battery which has higher performance than a nickel-metal hydride battery. Lithium-ion battery packs, which are more expensive, are denser so they can store more electricity and in the case of the new Civic Hybrid, there’s 33% greater output available.

Yet the battery pack is lighter by 9 kgs, and weight-savings are vital for hybrids, along with aerodynamics.

The interior of the latest Civic Hybrid is similar to that of the Civic 2.0 (not the Navi version) with new features such as a start/stop ignition button, ECON mode which extends fuel-saving behaviour and electric power steering with motion-adaptive correction. The intelligent multi-information display, which is a highlight of the new Civic range, includes additional screens showing energy flows in the IMA system to let the driver know when the battery is being charged, when driving is economical, etc.

What’s it like

Though I had tested the first generation of Toyota’s Prius in the late 1990s, the Civic Hybrid was the first hybrid car I got a chance to drive for an extended period. This was in 2003 when Honda invited me to attend a regional preview of the model in Singapore. A bit later on, Honda Malaysia offered the model in Malaysia but its sales were minimal as there was no tax exemption then so the car’s price was much too high.

With the latest generation, the same approach has been taken to share the bodywork and most elements with the petrol variant which I think is good as it moderates production cost. Of course, there will be those who may prefer a ‘high-tech’ car to look the part but for most people, the fuel economy of a hybrid is what they are really after.

Certainly, the latest hybrid performance is much better than the first one I tested and when compared with the previous generation, I am positive the acceleration is quicker. I’m not sure if the electric motor is actually more powerful but the car is more assertive in character.

The ECON mode does make a noticeable difference though as it ‘retards’ performance to give priority to achieving greater fuel economy. You won’t notice it so much when driving around town where speeds are not high but on country roads, it will be found that when in the mode, acceleration out of corners feels less spirited. The moment you switch off ECON mode, that zippy feeling returns almost immediately – though not as if a turbo has kicked in.

To help drivers achieve the best fuel economy, Honda has provided an ECO Score feature which ‘rewards’ you with ‘ECO leaves’ if your driving style becomes more economical. This plays on the competitive nature of most humans so for many drivers, trying to get more leaves may inspire them to drive more economically.

For guidance in getting better fuel economy, there are coloured strips on either side of the speedometer. When they are blue, the driving style is uneconomical and when blue-green (gentle acceleration), the fuel efficiency is moderate. Green means that the driving is at its most fuel-efficient and this can be in situations like coasting or cruising with only gentle pressure on the pedal.

However, as you go faster than 90 km/h, the efficiency starts to decline since greater demands on the engine are made, increasing fuel consumption.

Within the ECO Score display, there is also a horizontal bar which provides guidance as well. The graphic showing energy flows can also be helpful as the driver will know when the car is moving on just battery power (most fuel-efficient) though that does not happen frequently. In most instances, there’s a constant switching between battery, engine or combination of both.

Honda hybrid Civic

It is this constant switching that has required extensive programming skills so that the transition is seamless.

Driving the Civic Hybrid does not require any special training and it feels pretty much like the other Civics. I like the new steering wheel controls which are in the form of circular pads on either side. The pads are large and easy to use without having to focus on them. I also like the arrangement of the speedometer ahead of the tachometer which is one step lower, carried over from the previous generation.

It’s like a HUD (Head-Up Display) concept except that the information is not projected n the glass ahead but is within a recess.

The car’s handling proved was well balanced but the electric power steering seemed lighter than what I would like. The engineers said that there was no change from before but I cannot recall having felt the same lightness. It seemed to be consistently light at all speeds, requiring more attention than necessary during cornering.

The fuel consumption we saw with the car we drove (I had YS Khong with me)- around  16 kms/litre was the result of many different driving styles as it was constantly exchanged among our group from Subang to Penang. I believe it can be pretty economical and achieve the low 20s (kms per litre) on long journeys and still save some fuel in town driving.

Should you buy one?

Most certainly because this is the first time that the government has ever exempted import tax as well as excise duty for all buyers, not just royalty, diplomats and government departments. Before, it was hard to justify buying a Civic Hybrid as it just cost too much. Honda Malaysia gives a 5-year warranty – with no limit on mileage – on not only the car but also the battery pack so that’s peace of mind for the owner who may worry about a big bill to replace the battery.

In its latest form, the Civic still looks great, runs well and with the hybrid variant, you get the added benefit of going further on each litre of fuel. And if it’s a bit bigger than what you like, there’s  the Jazz Hybrid . also tax-free, which is the cheapest hybrid currently available in Malaysia.

Visit  www.honda.com.my  to know more about the new Civic Hybrid and other Honda models available in Malaysia

Looking for  secondhand Honda cars . Check the MTM Used Car Listings for advertisements, updated DAILY so that you don’t call advertisers who have sold off their cars months ago

Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic

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