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2016 Honda Civic Coupe: First Drive Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Jason Fogelson February 2016

If you're looking for a practical runabout, you're probably shopping for a sedan or a hatchback. If you're looking for a car that expresses your style, and you're a sexy, confident, impulsive person, you're probably dreaming of a coupe. The all-new 10th-generation 2016 Honda Civic Coupe could be the car you're dreaming about, especially if affordability, fuel efficiency and a fun-to-drive ride are on your list of required attributes.

Swoopy Coupe

A few months ago, Honda released the 2016 Civic Sedan, the first of the 10th-generation Civics to hit the lot. It represents a big improvement over the ninth-generation model -- and every previous Civic model. Now, the slow drip of Civic variants has begun as Honda fills out the lineup. The new Coupe shares many attributes with the Sedan, including wheelbase, track, powertrain choices and other features.

The big difference with the new Coupe (besides the door count) is the exterior design from the A-pillars to the back. The roof has been lowers about an inch, and the shoulder line below the rear windows rises a few inches. The tail and rear overhang have been trimmed about 5 inches. Since the Coupe and Sedan share a wheelbase, the Coupe's stance winds up looking more aggressive, with the wheels pushed out to the ends of the car, sports-car style.

Style Points

The Coupe gets big style points, but not without some minor utility penalties. Chopping 5 inches off the tail means that the trunk space is just 12.1 cu ft., down about 3 cu ft. versus the sedan. At 37.9 inches, rear legroom is 2 inches shorter than the sedan's, and of course, there are no rear doors. Kids won't mind clambering back into the second row, but Grandma had better be into yoga if you try to stuff her behind the driver. There are LATCH lower anchors for outboard second-row seats and a tether anchor for the center, so you can mount child safety seats safely. Budget a few extra bucks for a new child safety seat that can remain in the second row of your Civic Coupe, and avoid showing off your posterior to all your friends and neighbors on a regular basis.

Second-row and cargo issues aside, the Coupe's styling and more compact exterior dimensions will be worth the compromise for many buyers, especially those who rarely, if ever, carry passengers.

European Tailoring

The Coupe has benefited from the same interior makeover that the Sedan received. Honda benchmarked European luxury cars for design, materials selection, and fit and finish, and the cabin of the Coupe is lovely as a result. The asymmetrical design is decidedly drivercentric, with a cockpitlike dash, a big, clear instrument panel, and an uncluttered center stack and console. Step up through the trim levels, and genuine luxury features such as heated leather-trimmed seats become available on the EX-L and Touring models. Base models (LX and LX-P) are hardly stripped-down editions: They come with Bluetooth, a 5-inch color LCD touchscreen, a charging USB outlet and a decent audio system. EX-T, EX-L and Touring models get a 7-in HD LCD touchscreen, two USB outlets that charge, a 450-watt 10-speaker sound system with HD Radio, SiriusXM radio, Pandora capability and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Touring models come with navigation, too.

Driving around in the Coupe, like the Sedan, is a serene experience with very low levels of noise intruding into the cabin. Part of this is due to improved sound insulation and sealing, and part is due to a well-tuned chassis and suspension setup. Honda has used more high-strength steel in critical areas, which has a positive effect on body stiffness. The MacPherson strut front suspension and multilink rear -- with stabilizer bars front and rear -- deliver flat cornering and very good road manners. 16-in alloy wheels are standard on the LX models, while 17-in wheels come on the EX and Touring -- no more 15-in steel hoops for the Civic.

Honda has made its sophisticated Honda Sensing suite of active safety technologies available on the Touring model, which is unique for the compact-economy-coupe class.

Two Engines, No Waiting

Like the Sedan, the Coupe has been outfitted with a choice of two new engines. LX and LX-P models get a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated (nonturbo) 4-cylinder engine (158 horsepower/138 lb-ft of torque), while the EX-T, EX-L and Touring get a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (174 hp/162 lb-ft of torque), the first turbo Civic powerplant. Both engines are mated to continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVT) by default, except in the LX, which comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission or available CVT. Honda hinted they might decide to offer a manual option with the turbo and even brought out a test-mule sedan for journalists to sample, but that is just a tease right now.

The 2.0-liter engine is nicely matched with the Coupe in a lot of ways, providing adequate grunt and a pleasant exhaust note when pushed. The manual transmission makes things a little more fun for enthusiast drivers, too. Hobbyists and racers who like to soup up their Civics with aftermarket turbochargers will want to start with the LX for the most impact. As delivered, the 2.0 M/T is rated to achieve 26 miles per gallon in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined, while the CVT 2.0 squeezes 30 mpg city/41 mpg hwy/34 mpg combined out of regular gasoline.

The new turbo engine is very well sorted, with little noticeable turbo lag. The CVT keeps the revs in the right range for decent performance and efficiency. Expect class-leading 31 mpg city/41 mpg hwy/35 mpg combined out of the turbo, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Coupe Competitors

Compact front-wheel-drive economy coupes are a rare commodity right now. There's the Kia Forte Koup, the Scion tC (for now), and stretching a little, the MINI Hardtop 2 Door and FIAT 500.

Honda has more Civic variants up its sleeve, so if the Coupe or Sedan don't meet your needs and desires yet, just wait. The 2016 Honda Civic Coupe is a special car. It's not for everyone, but for a certain group of style-conscious owners, it may be just the ticket.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Honda Civic Coupe: First Drive Review - Autotrader