Honda Civic Hybrid IMA review and opinion RICHADA STICKING TWO …

30 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Honda Civic Hybrid IMA review and opinion RICHADA STICKING TWO … отключены
HONDA Jazz Hybrid 1.3 IMA HE CVT Continuosuly Variable



Now there’s a question! This is Honda’s answer to the rather better known Toyota Prius, i.e an ultra low emissions vehicle, in this case dependant on a combination of small (1.3 litre) petrol engine and a battery powered electric motor.

The badge on the back reads “HYBRID”, the one on the speedometer “IMA” – Integrated Motor Assist. Both of these terms in practice amount to the same thing, a medium sized saloon car powered by two “engines” working together to produce an ultra-low emissions vehicle, theoretically capable of very good economy.

Looking at the Civic saloon it is difficult to visualise the much more stylish, and popular, Civic hatchback with which, I suspect, you will be far more familiar. Indeed this is a totally different car, sharing no external body panels with the Civic hatch, inside there are certain similarities, but the interior too is largely bespoke.


Due to the expense of the technology and the cost and complexity of building the Civic saloon, Honda keeps it very simple indeed. The Hybrid comes in just one version: the very well equipped ES, with a 1.3 petrol engine coupled to an automatic CVT (constantly variable) transmission. You have a choice of body colour and the option of leather upholstery and that is it.

I found myself immediately wondering why Honda had not offered this intriguing and tax busting power combination in the hatchback Civic – a far more desirable LOOKING car. That was before opening the boot and discovering how much space the battery pack and rear mounted motor take up. This also explains why at 4545mm long (1750 wide), it is so close dimensionally to the Honda Accord.

The saloon body style is also now, ironically, available in the UK as a Type R (“Racing”) version – dropping the 1.3 litre petrol engine and battery powered motor — replacing them with a 200bhp 2 litre petrol engine, thus creating an animal of a totally different breed. Stylistically somehow, the Civic Saloon shape far more suits the Hybrid badge than it does the sporty Type R one.

On other markets the same body is offered with a more conventional range of petrol and diesel engines.


I am reviewing this car very much in its natural environment, partly using it to evade Mr Livingstone’s TfL Congestion Charge. I actually requested it for the day from Chiswick Honda upon taking in my Accord Diesel for a service.

If you drive a Honda and live in this area, the majority of service and body shop loan cars from Chiswick Honda are now Hybrids, which neatly side steps the issue of having to pay the Congestion Charge which has now been extended to West London – including the Natural History Museum to which we were heading.

I had never driven a Hybrid car of any type before – not surprising as only Honda and Toyota / Lexus currently make them.


Ultimately this is going to be the prime selling point of this particular car. Costs in this case, present an unusually complex equation. It is difficult to purely analyse the car costs without taking into consideration the potential savings that you will make if you live in and, or, work within the now extended congestion charge zone.

At the extreme, assuming that you drive into the capital every working day this car can save you Ј2000 per year, a not inconsiderable amount of money on your commuting expenses.

Group 7 insurance combined with the lowest road tax band, even for city dwellers, this will not break the bank.

An overall cost per mile of 40.6p is nothing to write home about though – conventionally engined Civic hatches, both petrol and diesel, can better that. Incidentally, the cheapest Toyota Prius model would cost 43.4 pence per mile to run.

This will be one of the cheapest company cars of all to run however, with a CO2 level of just 109gms/kg it falls into the very lowest benefit in kind tax band at 12%, costing a 22% tax payer Ј546.05 per year and Ј992.82 for a 40% tax payer


Apart from buying a second hand Toyota Prius, or a used one of these, this car is going to be your cheapest way into Hybrid motoring and the advantages that come with it. For the basic car Honda will charge you Ј16,600, very reasonable indeed considering the technology involved, not to mention the well above average standard kit count.

THE OPTIONS GAME: 9 / 10 or “How much do I need to spend to make it habitable?”

This car has all the mod cons that you could wish for. The only two options – both of which I would recommend, are metallic paint (Ј375) and leather upholstery (Ј800).


Pictures of Honda Civic Hybrid IMA

Not exactly a looker, especially next to the Civic hatchback.

8 / 10 – Always the biggest running cost.

Not an easy category to score in this case as this car has so very little competition. Worth 46% of its purchase cost (i.e. Ј7636) after three years and 36,000 miles use, it depreciates at the same rate as a petrol or diesel Civic hatchback.

Interestingly a Toyota Prius – the only comparable Hybrid on the market, is worth a mere 36% of its initial value after the same length of time and mileage.

These figures are however rather hypothetical, I suspect that in London – or indeed Manchester, where road charging is coming, the second hand values of these cars is likely to be far stronger than in more rural areas.


We were NOT impressed / amused!

I have fallen victim to Honda’s grossly over optimistic “official” fuel consumption figures before. Theoretically my own diesel Accord is supposed to average 53mpg, over 75,000 miles use it has managed 40mpg – not bad for a family saloon — but way below the figure that Honda and their salesmen had led me to expect when purchasing it.

In the Hybrid’s case the overall consumption figure is quoted at 61.4 mpg, the worst figure being the “Urban” one at 54.3mpg.

OK, we would have liked to have covered far more miles in this car, particularly in less traffic, but wait for it……

……according to the cars own trip computer, my 28 miles of mixed driving achieved 12.8mpg!

YES, not a misprint: 12.8mpg! I had well and truly had Ken Livingstone over!

I am quite sure that, had I driven our own diesel Accord Saloon on those same roads, it would have proved considerably more economical AND let far less pollution out onto London’s still hideously crowded roads.

In the Hybrid we drove into Town for nothing, in the Accord we would have been charged Ј8.00 for the same journey.

Very simplistically, the rated CO2 level is directly related to the amount of fuel burned by the engine. If the fuel consumption is that far out – then so too will be the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere from the exhaust pipe.

Less simplistically, this car uses every known trick in the book in order to, theoretically, save fuel. In practice, we discovered that in heavy London traffic most of the fuel saving features just could not combat the constant stop start driving.

On the dashboard are bar graphs showing you how much charge is in the battery and how efficiently you are topping it up – or running it down. The wheels act like dynamos – charging the battery under braking and when cruising on light throttle. Creeping from one set of lights to the next simply does not let the battery charge – although once you do actually start to move the battery re-charges surprisingly quickly.

When you come to rest at a red light, the petrol engine stops, leaving the electric motor to power the climate control, lights and wipers etc. Strangely if I took my foot off the brake pedal and applied the hand-brake, the engine re-started.

None of these tricks however could save the Civic Hybrid from producing what I consider to be truly abysmal fuel consumption – that in the very environment for which, surely, it was designed.

SERVICE MAINTENANCE COSTS 9 / 10: are you going to make the dealer rich?

According to Honda’s published service cost figures no. Your dealer will take less for servicing one of these than for any diesel model in their range.

Budget for Ј682 on servicing over three years and 36,000 miles use. The Prius would cost Ј745 over the same period.

From experience with our own Accord, I would expect to use far more brake pads than expected – especially so with this being an automatic – and also with that bar gauge winking at you on the dashboard, positively tempting you into braking in order to charge up the battery pack!

Let the “fun” begin! You want to know what this car is like to live with and to drive and be driven in…….


STYLING 5 /10: A very subjective category here.

With the exception of the boxy Jazz, Honda have designed a stunning looking range of cars, this particular saloon standing out as the dullard in that range – especially as it wears a Civic badge. Marginally better looking than the awkward Prius, there is little to commend the shape or styling details on the Hybrid saloon.

In short, nobody will buy it for its looks.

OVERALL BUILD QUALITY AND FINISH 9 / 10 Does it look as though it was slung together?

The Civic Hybrid is a thoroughly well built and finished car. The gaps between the body panels are close and very evenly aligned, whilst the pale blue metallic paint finish on our car was lustrous and evenly applied.

SAFETY 9 /10 If it comes to the worst, how well are you and your family going to come out of it.

Honda did not scrimp on safety features in order to finance the engine technology here. The Civic Hybrid carries a full compliment of dynamic and passive safety features.

Vehicle Safety Assist (VSA) helps control the car in extreme handling situations – and I can vouch that this works superbly on the larger, heavier Accord, whilst Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) empowers these cars with the best brakes that I have ever experienced. The latter factor possibly explains the unusually high rate of brake pad wear.

Inside the car you are surrounded with airbags, including curtain ones, whilst active head rests combined with the front airbags offer extra protection to the front seat occupants in the event of a crash.


ERGONOMICS 7 / 10 Before I can start the engine and drive away I need to feel at home in the “working environment”. The relationship between the controls and how I, the driver, am able to instinctively operate those controls is, all important. This for me is make or break, before I drive a car, if it does not instinctively “feel” right in this department then I will never like it or ultimately buy it.

Some may well prefer the interior of the Civic Hybrid to the Civic hatchback. Whilst it shares the same basic dashboard design, with split zone displays, the Hybrid’s dash is somewhat less fussy in execution.

The primary controls and gauges are all simple enough, whilst the relationship between the steering wheel, pedals, gear selector and handbrake are just about ideal. Incidentally the stylish little handbrake lever not only looks great, but works beautifully too – well done Honda in bringing both a touch of unusual style AND function to such a basic control.

The Hybrid, as with its more conventional Civic brethren, gets marked down due to its confusing multiplicity of minor controls. I was also less than keen on the very prominent and distracting white bar graph, next to the digital speedometer, which showed the instant fuel consumption read out.


Hondas, for whatever reason, are never the best on this score. Vastly better than the Hatchback, with its’ dangerously compromised rearwards visibility, I still found it difficult judging the corners of this car when parking. Not usually a fan of such systems, but if using a Hybrid regularly in town, I would be tempted to add a parking radar system to it – front and rear.

SPACE: 8 / 10:

This car has a huge interior and is equally as spacious as the slightly larger (externally) Accord. There is ample room for three adults to sit abreast in the rear and they will be well accommodated for leg and headroom too.

The interior space is also very intelligently used, with oddments boxes and storage spaces everywhere.

What it does not have, thanks to the battery pack mounted behind the rear seats, is a very large boot. This particular feature would actually prove a problem in our case.

STYLE 7 / 10:

When compared to the “Buck Rogers” Civic hatchback, the Hybrid Saloon looks a bit of a half hearted effort on this score. Although the dashboard still sweeps into the front doors, adding to the impression of space, the materials used are less imaginative in nature and the instrument panel less attractive to look at too. I was pleased to see the Civic’s attractive leather rimmed steering wheel here though.

“Our” car came with the grey leather seat option, which brings with it attractive leather panels set into the doors. Unlike in our own Accord, the Civic is refreshingly free of any fake wood trim – and looks all the better for it.

I prefer the deeper, more supportive seats in the standard Civic, or in the Accord, although neither of us had any complaints after sitting in this car for a couple of hours.

MATERIALS, FIT FINISH 8 / 10: Aspreys or Ratners?

Having said that I prefer the standard (hatchback) Civics’ rather more radical interior style, it was difficult to fault the materials, fit and finish here. I have driven many far more expensive cars with less “feel good factor” about their interiors.

AUDIO CLIMATE CONTROL SYSTEMS 9 / 10: Strange grouping?

We were impressed with not only the simplicity of using these controls – much less complex than in the hatchback, but the audio system was notably good in sound quality too.

Compared to the rather more sophisticated “dual zone” climate control to be found in the Accord, the Hybrid’s system was rather noisy, if acceptably efficient in operation. Particularly appealing was the fact that thanks to the battery pack, the climate control continues to cool the interior of the car even with the engine not running.


……Time to start it up and to offer you a driving assessment.

NOISE, VIBRATION HARSHNESS 9 / 10 Silk purse or sow’s ear?

BIG SURPRISE! I have to be honest here and say that my expectations on this score were low. The last Civic that I drove was an i-Shift semi-automatic, and I remarked at the time that it would be a much better car had Honda put their excellent CVT transmission into it.

This car has that transmission, albeit coupled to a much smaller engine.

The transmission is smooth in take up, the engine revs willingly, without vibration and the whole car has a thoroughly “grown up” feel to it that I simply had not expected.

Also very unexpected is the seemless transition from petrol to electric power. More impressive still is the silent engine start when you drive away, no starter motor noise, no vibration the engine just very quietly gets on with the job in hand.

At higher speeds, and under acceleration, the Civic Hybrid was somewhat less impressive, this actually being a characteristic of the CVT transmission which has a tendency to “over-rev” the engine. When coasting with the engine actually shut down a strange road rumble is heard – maybe not purely road noise but a low pitched hum from the electric motor.

Sitting at traffic lights with the engine off – even with the windows wound up – you realise what a noisy world we live in, a strange feeling until you get used to the engine cutting out at every opportunity!

PERFORMANCE 7 / 10 Sh*t off a shovel or a constipated tortoise?

Having read a lot about Hybrids I was very curious to sample the Civic’s performance. Due to the free revving little 1.3 engine and CVT transmission it actually feels very sprightly indeed about town.

At 1297kg in weight, the Hybrid is not exactly a lightweight car. Offering 88bhp at 6,000rpm you are not going to be first away from every set of lights. However, those statistics actually paint a rather false picture of the Hybrid’s ability on the road.

The combination of two power sources – the electric one majoring on torque — means that in give and take driving this is an amazingly relaxed and flexible car to drive. For those interested the maximum torque figure is 166lbs/ft at 4,600rpm – very impressive indeed for a 1.3 litre engine!

In ordinary day to day driving, this car is totally the opposite to the traditional high revving, manic gearchanging Honda. It has just enough performance for ordinary driving conditions – no more, no less.


I have to be honest here and confess that I did not get the opportunity to “throw the car about” in order to properly assess its handling abilities. In normal driving the handling is very neutral, thanks to the electrically assisted power steering it is very light to drive, once again there is nothing unusual about it on this score.

On a wide variety of road surfaces, some pretty awful urban, broken, ones we were impressed with the Hybrids ride quality. Certainly it rides more comfortably, and quietly, than the more firmly sprung Civic hatchback.

CONCLUSION – Would I buy one myself and would we want to drive it to Poland in a day?

Very tricky! I found this quite the most relaxing way in which to travel around our crowded capital and was impressed in every way that I did not expect to be. However, the big let down was that, given all that high tech gadgetry, very well concealed under the Hybrid’s skin, in my opinion at least, it failed miserably to live up to its billing as an urban economy car.

Taking a Civic Hybrid to Poland would not be a popular idea with Mrs R as nearly half of her precious luggage space has been given over to the battery pack! In terms of performance, comfort and maybe even long range economy, I would have no qualms about covering 1000 miles in a day in one of these cars.

On balance, I feel that I have to conclude by saying that probably a more conventional Ј17,000 diesel powered car is going to prove a better all round choice. Having said that there is obviously a lot of potential development left to run in Hybrid technology and it would not surprise me if Honda were not marketing more powerful versions in the very near future.

FINAL SCORE: 125 / 170 — 73.5%

Putting that score into perspective are the following cars based on identical scoring criteria:

ALFA ROMEO 147 1.9JTD Lusso (5 Dr) — 67.8%


HONDA ACCORD i-CTDi Saloon — 80.0%

HONDA CIVIC 1.8i VTEC SE – 78.2%



HONDA JAZZ 1.4 SE CVT-7 (Automatic) — 74.7%

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