Love at first sight.
Okay, not at first sight.
The Honda Civic coupe has been around for a while now, but there’s something special about our tester that keeps us coming back for more.
And we have an idea why.
It starts with choosing the right Civic
We have tested a wide range of Civics, and being enthusiasts, we’ve gravitated to the hi-po models like the Civic Type R, the Civic Si and the grins-for-the-buck Civic Sport. The first thing we noticed, they’re all 4-doors. And in the case of the Type R (or CTR for those in the know) and the SI, they are decorated with spoilers and the like, and it makes the lines kind of busy.
Honda made some notable styling changes for 2019 for Sedan and Coupe, including a restyled front bumper, blacked out headlight treatment, and gloss black on the “wing” portion of the grille. It sounds subtle, but it really makes an impact – looking lower, wider and more aggressive.
It certainly paid off on our test vehicle. A Civic Touring, without the extra spoilers you find on the Si and Type R, lets you really appreciate the lines. And being a Coupe, the proportions really work. We like the sedan, but the coupe, sitting on those 18-in wheels, is the bomb.
Oh, and the Rallye Red just sets off the contrast of the black trim perfectly. It just comes together in a package that had us smiling walking up to it and doing double takes when we walked away.
It’s the little things that add up.
Inside, our tester looked much like most of the other Civics we have tested recently. And that’s all good – Honda does a wonderful job of making you feel comfortable. Being a Touring model, we got leather seats, and it makes a big difference. Open the door, and the rich smell of hide gets you right away. Take a seat and the supportive design and craftsman ship in the stitching makes you feel surrounded by a good thing. Metallic tone trim adds a quality look. We did find many of the plastics have a hard, scratchy feel to them – a contrast to the plushness we found on the new Mazda 3, for example.
You get clues that a fun time is to be had – a fat leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters feels great to the hands, and sport pedals look and feel good. And the layout is excellent – typically Honda – with clear gauges and easy to read controls. The center instrument display lets you call up different screens, and we spent most of the time watching the digital turbo boost gauge spool up and down. Fun!
For 2019, the 7-inch info-tainment screen got a lovely volume knob (really, it makes a big difference) which works great with the 450-watt audio system and the Touring’s standard Navigation system. Although, with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, we were happy to use WAZE on the sharp display.
Along with the plush leather and advanced tech, there’s the typical Honda attention to detail, like a center console with dual level sliding cupholders, extra storage bins, a cool pass-through for cables between the upper center dash and the tucked-away lower storage level that houses your USB input.
And while most people would be looking at the 4-door or hatchback for practicality, we were pleased with the amount of cargo space in our coupe, with a generous pass-through for luggage and folding rear seats, that created impressive room.
Another right choice in making your Civic lust-worthy is making sure you get one of the models with the 1.5-liter turbo engine. While we really liked the normally aspirated 2.0-liter in our Civic Sport test, the turbo is more powerful, and the 174 hp 1.5 comes on like gangbusters with max torque at just 1,700 rpm. It’s a nice sounding motor, too. While we would never recommend modifying your engine (especially under warranty) a small reflash of the ECU brings huge gains on these engines. Oh temptation….
With the Touring turbo comes the CVT automatic and as far as CVT’s go, it’s one of the best. That is sort of faint praise, though, we’d really prefer a regular automatic or direct sequential gearbox that you find on some Hyundai, Kia, and VW products.
Don’t blame us, blame the turbo.
You still hustle along nicely, and a big surprise is how well sorted the chassis is. We know the Type R and Si really handle like true sports sedans, and the Sport model was a grin machine too.
But even the Touring has been blessed with chassis engineering goodness. The steering has excellent feel, the ride is an impressive blend of smooth – more livable than the Type R or Si for a daily – while being responsive and there’s plenty of grip with those meaty 18-inch tires.
It makes the Touring an excellent dual-purpose machine – glide along in leather-lined comfort and get mpg in the mid-30’s, but when you want, there’s plenty of fun to be had to entertain the driver.
We love that Honda gives everyone an opportunity to enjoy.
The enjoyment also comes with a load of confidence with standard Honda Sensing, including adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and lane keep assist. We also love the Honda Lane Watch – hit the right turn signal and a camera under the right hand outside mirror projects the image on the Display Audio Screen. Honda says it provides more than four times the coverage of the mirror. It’s a fantastic idea!
The best part of our Coupe is that this is a Civic – and that means affordable. The Civic family is a diverse lineup with sedans, hatchbacks and Coupes. If you’re as crazy as we are about the Coupe, you can get a Civic LX for $20,950. Looking for turbo-powered thrills? You’ll want to step up to the EX, which includes a power moonroof, 450-watt audio system, and heated seats for a very reasonable $23,500.
Our Touring tester started at $27,150. Add in $930 for Destination, and we carried a sticker of $28,080. Competitors would include the Hyundai Veloster, $29,070 comparably equipped. It’s more of a hatchback, but also a fun drive. The Toyota 86 is $28,660, and it’s more of a sports car, but the rear seat is unusable.
The Civic Coupe is a special vehicle. Like all Honda’s it’s nearly flawless in design, function, quality and Honda reliability is a given.
The looks of the Honda Civic Touring Coupe cause love at first sight. But it does everything so well, you’ll love if for years and years to come.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.