Honda’s new diesel

Road test: Honda Civic EX 1.6 i-DTEC diesel

Time to test Honda’s new, celebrated 1.6 i-DTEC engine here at Motor Writer. It’s been available in the Civic for a couple of months and has now been made available in the CR-V. We like the both CR-V and the Civic; let’s take a look at this new engine, then.

This 1.6 diesel has been developed specifically for Europe and is the first product under Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology programme. We are testing it here in a well-specified Civic EX and it didn’t take long to decide that it’s rather good. Quiet at start-up, even from cold, it remains civilised even when revved hard. It has ample power and more-than-ample torque which makes it very capable of propelling the sizeable Civic. Like any smaller engine, it’s really on form when the turbo is spinning and below 1,500 rpm its a little tardy; otherwise, there’s a satisfying shove all the way.

We covered the latest Civic here on Motor Writer last June, liked it a great deal and just felt that more fun could be had than with the otherwise acceptable 1.4 petrol unit. Here, the 1.6 diesel manages that delicate balance of economy and performance exceptionally well. For all the best reasons, it is prime material for the fleet car, with CO2 emissions of just 94 g/km.

In this installation, Honda has kept the lower gear ratios fairly close for good acceleration and sixth is high enough to gobble-up the motorway miles. Certainly, this Civic is no slouch but while 10.5 seconds to 62 mph isn’t startling, that torque means there is always a confidence about making progress.

The quoted combined mpg figure of 78.5 is as mythical as any other manufacturer’s claims when translated into the real world. That said, the fuel gauge has proved extremely reluctant to move this week, however hard the car has been driven and despite poor traffic conditions.

It would be remiss to ignore the rest of the car, which has been a worthy work-horse during its time at Motor Writer. More than that, it has been comfortable, capable and fitted with the right level of options to make any journey a pleasure.

I still find the Civic’s exterior a little challenging from certain angles, but in solid colours it works better and it is certainly striking and easily identifiable. The interior is mostly conventional but with a secondary depth of instruments, placing the digital speedo further from the driver. It takes a while to get used-to but driving something else today, I did miss the Honda’s display. Interior space is also excellent and the rear seat fold-up mechanism (like a cinema seat) provides a convenient, high load space right behind the front seats.

Diesel engine progress seemed to have plateaued recently, with some of the more interesting developments being made for petrol propulsion. Honda’s competent, flexible and economical 1.6 i-DTEC seems to have bucked the trend and mated to the rather good Civic, we can’t issue anything but all the stars.

Honda Civic EX 1.6 i-DTEC £23,175 (plus £500 for White Orchid pearlescent paint).

Power: 120 PS, torque: 300 Nm, emissions: 94 g/km CO2 (band A), 0-62 mph: 10.5 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●●


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