Launch Pad: 2014 Honda Civic


I’m doing something today that I wish more car manufacturers did, but which I can understand why most don’t.

I’m driving a revised version of a car alongside the outgoing one (pictured above), to see how much better the new one is.

How do you make sure it’s a showcase of how the new one is even better, rather than the old one not being good enough? Particularly with the car in question…

It’s a Honda Civic, which has hardly had the most glittering of starts here. Perfectly worthy, yes, but not a patch on a VW Golf or a Ford Focus. Honda didn’t even have the right engines ready at launch; it’s since rectified that with the rollout of the 1.6-litre diesel and now the rest of the car is getting work, too.

Honda’s promising we’ll discover improvements to high speed stability and steering response, plus exterior and interior “refinements that give the car a more distinctive, sportier appearance”. It’ll be in dealers from early 2014.

All very interesting and I’m looking forward to the comparison. Can’t help but think this is an automatic admission from Honda that its first attempt simply wasn’t good enough, though. That only arrived in 2011 – surely it’s too soon for a conventional facelift, and this one is thus merely rectifying the faults of the first before the car loses too much more ground?

My mind shifts to the US, where the latest generation Civic was universally panned for being a dull, cost-cut imitation of the outgoing one. Honda US immediately held its hands up and has been rolling out improved versions as fast as it can ever since.

Is this a quiet example of the UK doing the same? We shall see.

And I hope it’s worth it, too. All car enthusiasts like Honda, that most engineering-led of companies. This took a back seat in the current Civic, because of the engineers: I’m hoping the engineers have now been able to do what they perhaps wanted to do all along.

To Swindon, then, through the first frost of the winter, to see if I’ll warm to the Civic any more.Ice-Warning


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