We had a chance to do a Quick Drive review of this 2012 Honda Civic Coupe back during the Texas Auto Roundup where to be quite honest, we were fairly unimpressed at that time. It didn’t help that just before driving the Honda Civic Coupe we took the Kia Forte 5 out and thought it was everything we wanted the Civic to be. We now have this car for an extended period where we can really check it out and let you know what we think.
At first glance it doesn’t seem like the 2012 Civic is much different looking than the 2011 model. Take a closer look though and you’ll see the lines are much cleaner and more swoopy. It’s more wedged and has a more aggressive stance making it look more sporty. After spending some time really studying the lines and design of the car I actually quite liked it.
Inside the car is laid out much like the older Civic. We were testing the EX-L model with navigation, a sunroof, and leather seats. Although this is a good combination it didn’t all work out right. The plastic panels all over the dash, the doors, and the center console where cheap and hard. The leather was also cheap and not as comfortable as leather seats we’ve tested in much cheaper cars.
The double stacked gauge cluster was cool when it was first released and the tachometer is big and right in front of the driver giving you a sporty feel. Still, it just didn’t work for me. You had dials that would change color depending on how economical you drove the car. You have a Prius-like display that shows how economical you are driving. And you have a big green button to the left of the steering wheel that will make sure you’re driving is economical. As sporty as this car tries to look, you quickly figure out it’s all about economy.
Equipped in this sporty coupe is a 1.8 liter, 140 horsepower engine hooked up to a 5-speed transmission. This results in a pretty slow approach to a sporty coupe. Take this car out of eco-mode, turn the traction control off, and put the transmission into the lowest gear aloud by the automatic transmission, then put your foot on the brake and slam on the accelerator peddle. In most cars this results in some tire-spinning and a jolt of power propelling you forward. In this Civic coupe it resulted in no drama and a slow puttering down the road.
In most slow cars the lack of power can be forgiven by a sporty chassis with good handling so we stop trying to spin the tires and took this Civic into some corners. Just a few weeks before we test drove the Acura TSX Sportwagon and fell in love with it’s handling, could this Civic coupe be as good? Sadly no. The feel from the steering wheel and the stance on the road just never felt sporty. You always felt as if you were disconnected to maximize economy and minimize driving fun.
So without sportiness and power and with a large intrusion of eco-ness, this car should get great gas mileage, right? Well yes, and it dose. The EPA ratings on this coupe are 28 city and 39 highway. Keeping the car out of eco-mode doesn’t hurt your numbers either. We were averaging in the low 30’s without being in eco-mode. When we finally broke down and pushed the big green button we saw numbers from 37 up into the 40’s on fuel economy.
The almost sad part is that you should be able to get even better fuel economy. As I stated earlier this car is equipped with Honda’s older 5-speed transmission instead of a more economical 6-speed. Mainly this is because of cost. Our tester already tipped the scale at $24,225 and as I said, it doesn’t feel all that expensive. Others have said they believe that Honda did this so that the Civic wouldn’t beat out their CR-Z in fuel economy. This leaves you feeling like you could have done better in the fuel economy stance as well.
Granted I’ve been talking a lot about sportiness and that’s not really what this car is all about. Honda does have the Civic Si, a more performance driven model if you’re looking for a sport coupe. The problem with that is there is so much competition these days for sporty, cheap, fuel efficient coupes. I have yet to drive the Si Civic but am looking forward to it. But if the interior is still a mess, and the handling and steering feel are even half as dead I’ll be looking at other cars. Cars like the Scion tC, the Kia Forte, the Hyundai Genesis, the Hyundai Veloster, and soon enough Scion will release the FR-S and Subaru the BRZ. These are all great new cars that are more focused on keeping it sporty and still get decent fuel economy. If you are just seeking a nice looking coupe that will get you back and forth with good gas mileage, this may be your car. But for me, Honda has a lot of work to accomplish before I become a fanboy and turn away from Hyundai and all the great new cars coming.
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