Honda Builds a Better Civic: Still no double wishbones but a CRX is coming in two years


Posted Date: 7/26/05

The new 2006 Honda Civic, due this fall, is more fun to drive than the car it replaces, our spies tell us, and there will even be a return of the racer’s favorite CRX badge in 2007. That’s not bad news, is it?

Those we spoke to who have driven the new Civic were enthusiastic about it.

“It’s an awesome car. It drives like the Integra Type R,” said one.

“This is exactly what Honda needs,” said another.

And these were performance-lovin’ guys.

Though Honda calls it an “all-new” car, a number of platform and suspension pieces either carry over or are only slightly revised.

The new Civic makes those gains without a return to double wishbones in front. The new suspension still has MacPherson struts. The rear suspension is also “revised,” but details are scarce. Expect a slightly tighter multilink setup.

Top of the engine chart is the 200-hp version of the K20 four-cylinder that will power the Civic Si and CRX. Civic Si— the most powerful Civic ever, according to Honda—will bow at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas this November.

Of course, with the new SAE horsepower ratings, that 200-hp figure might wind up being 197, which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as 200. Honda is wringing its corporate hands over that. Even so, a 197-hp rating is still better than the 160 hp of today’s Si, though maybe even that’s now 158 or so, SAE.

The new Si engine will have 16 valves operated by dual overhead cams and i-VTEC, or variable lift electronic control with intelligence. Redline will be 8000 rpm. The Si engine will be mated to a six-speed manual and it will get a helical limited-slip differential. It will ensure power goes to the ground instead of spinning the inside-front tire uselessly.

Most of the Civic lineup will have a new 1.8-liter four that will make more power and offer a 6 percent improvement in fuel economy. Honda says the 1.8 offers the acceleration of a 2.0-liter and the fuel economy of a 1.5-liter engine. The 1.8 uses improved i-VTEC, drive-by-wire and variable-length intake runners to achieve its increased performance. Peak power is 140 hp and peak torque is 128 lb-ft, though there are suggestions a 155- or 160-hp version could be coming.

The 2006 Civic line will get a new hybrid engine that will be 20 percent more efficient than today’s. The gasoline engine portion of the hybrid will be 1.3 liters and offer three phases of i-VTEC, one for low rpm, one for high and one for idle. At idle the gas engine shuts down, restarting when the driver steps on the gas.

All that running gear will be placed in what Honda calls a new body from the floorpan up. Standard wheels are expected to be 15 inches, with 16-inch wheels on the EX and 17-inch wheels on the Si.

The Civic will come in two body styles, a four-door sedan and a two-door coupe. Sources say the bodies are slightly longer and wider. Combined with a slightly more cab-forward style, interior space is thus opened up. The Civic dash, meanwhile, is two-tiered, with an instrument binnacle bulging out of it. The interior generally gets favorable reviews from those who have seen it.

The slightly larger 2006 Civic will move it upscale just enough to make room for the coming five-door Jazz/Fit, due in the first half of next year. That smaller car will be aimed at Scion and at whatever Nissan decides to call its entry-level youth-oriented line. Stay tuned for word on all that