2016 Honda Civic: Performance Tested - A Deep Dive Into the Numbers
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on March 16, 2016
This isn't the first time we've tested a 2016 Honda Civic, but this is the first test for our Rallye Red long-term car. Honda, a company known for its high-revving, naturally-aspirated engines, fitted a turbocharger to the new Civic's 1.5-liter four cylinder engine.
This is a significant step for a company that has only sold one other turbocharged car in the U.S. We're interested to see how the Civic performs during its 12-month stay, but first we need to see how it performs at the track.
Vehicle: 2016 Honda Civic Touring
Driver: Carlos Lago
Drive Type: Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Continuously-variable transmission
Engine Type: Turbocharged inline four-cylinder
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,496/91
Redline (rpm): 6,500 (Revs no higher than 6,000)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 174 @6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 162 @ 1,700-5,000
Brake Type (front): One-piece ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): One-piece solid discs with single piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut front suspension with 26.5mm tubular stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Multi-Link rear suspension with 17mm solid stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 215/50R17 91H
Tire Size (rear): 215/50R17 91H
Tire Brand: Firestone
Tire Model: FT140
Tire Type: All Season
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 2,920
0-30 (sec): 2.8 (w/ TC on 3.7)
0-45 (sec): 4.6 (w/ TC on 5.6)
0-60 (sec): 6.9 (w/TC on 8.1)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.6 (w/TC on 7.7)
0-75 (sec): 9.9 (w/TC on 11.8)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.07 @ 93.39 (w/TC on 16.08 @ 89.1)
30-0 (ft): 31
60-0 (ft): 119
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.83 (0.83 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: 2,000
Identical acceleration as previous Civic Coupe Touring we tested. Within 0.1 second. Slower than the first Touring sedan we tested. First Civic Touring we tested was faster than everything. Cooler test day.
Mashing the gas from a standstill results in a minor hesitation right around 2,500 rpm. After that, the Civic gets moving and pulls decently afterwards. Holding both gas and brake pedals simultaneously (pedal overlap) before launching allows you to bypass this hesitation. This also makes for the fastest acceleration, cutting significant time off results.
This CVT doesn't have fixed gear ratios like a normal automatic transmission, yet it fakes the sensation of shifting gears at full throttle. In D, these fake shifts try to simulate the feel of a normal automatic transmission, but in the process they add small delays that seem unnatural and weird. They also hurt acceleration, because time it takes to fake a gearshift is time that could be spent accelerating the car. In the S shifter position, the Civic still fakes gear changes, but doesn't drop engine speed as much. It also seems to re-engage power more smoothly.
In D and S, the engine never touches its 6,500 rpm indicated redline; it "shifts" around 6,000 rpm instead. The "L" shift setting produces the fastest acceleration. This mode eliminates the time-consuming fake gearshifts and, at full throttle, parks the engine at its 6,000 rpm power peak.
Aside from the fake gearshifts, I like this transmission. Throttle tip-in is smooth and responsive, and helps make the engine feel powerful when you're cruising at light throttle loads. It doesn't feel turbocharged, either. The power comes on strong, but in a linear fashion without noticeable lag. It feels somewhat like an electric car.
Minimal tire noise and a little clicking and shuddering from the ABS make emergency stops feel stable and controlled. None of the stops during testing required steering corrections to keep the car straight. The brake pedal is responsive and easy to modulate. Braking performance didn't degrade noticeably from the driver's seat over the course of five stops, and the Civic didn't exhibit odor or fade after testing. The first and shortest stop took 119 feet, while subsequent stops hovered around 124 feet. This is around two to four feet longer than the Civic Touring we tested earlier this year.
Nicely balanced in steady-state cornering for a front-drive compact car on the skidpad. Stability control intervention is smooth, and it helps the Civic stay on the driver's intended line without panicking and grabbing the brakes. Unfortunately you can't fully disable stability control. Even when the dash tells you the system is off, you can still feel the brakes working away and holding the car on line.
There was no difference in average lateral g between stability control on and off settings. Steering is light on feel, but accurate. It's easy to sense the oncoming limit of the front tires by the sound and the movement of the chassis. Body roll hurt the Civic's ability to transition quickly, but it's a tradeoff I'm happy to accept for the ride quality - Carlos Lago
Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 1,360 miles