You have to applaud Honda: The carmaker still believes that some drivers prefer two doors to four — hence the coupe versions of the popular Accord and compact Civic. Following its redesigned sedan, Honda rolled out a new coupe for 2016 with an edgier design, bolder face and an available turbo 4.
Appearance: Our Civic Coupe Touring's design was overshadowed by its color — Energy Green Pearl, which looks and sounds like a new Mountain Dew flavor. (Someone asked if it was a performance model based on its color. No, it just looks loud.) Once you get past the Day-Glo paint, the Civic Coupe features an aggressive and chrome-heavy grille that extends between and over slender, jewellike headlights. Sharp creases sculpted the hood and run the length of the body, swooping up over the rear wheels. Those wheels are pushed out to the corners with minimal overhang, resulting in a wider stance. In the rear, the LED taillights extend across the deck-lid spoiler in what Peter called a "futuristic, Honda Insight (RIP) style." It's an attention-getter, especially at night. The two doors open wide and make entrance easy, even for backseat passengers. The 17-inch alloy wheels are sharp.
Performance: Under the hood is a first for the front-wheel-drive Civic: a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that is offered on the upper trims and produces 174 horsepower. (Other Civics also get a new engine — a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 158 horsepower. The base Civic also has a manual gearbox.) The engine is mated to a CVT — not our favorite, but Honda has refined it so it does its job more smoothly. The turbo Civic has more than enough power, even more so when you are in "S" mode, which makes for quicker shift responses. The steering is precise and quick to react, and Lyra enjoyed its handling on curvy roads. Our Civic Coupe had the Honda Sensing package, which includes lane-keeping assist and road-departure mitigation, which Lyra felt was "overly helpful" at keeping the car from drifting.
Interior: The cabin is airy and modern-looking with quality materials. Peter likened it to a "junior Acura." The leather seats are surprisingly cushy for a compact car and give the cabin an upscale feel. For the driver, the digital instrument cluster is dominated by a tach with digital MPH readout that condenses the old two-level Civic design. Unlike its bigger sibling, the Accord, there is just one screen for the infotainment system. Thank goodness. Unfortunately, the controls are on the touchscreen. Worst of all: The volume control on the screen is cumbersome and the only physical control is on the steering wheel. The console has a versatile armrest bin that can be configured in different ways. The coupe seats five (sort of) and seems larger than it looks with adequate head- and legroom, even in the back. Those rear seats tip forward for pass-through storage for longer items in the trunk.
Our 3 favorites
Design: The new look is a radical departure from its predecessor.
Engine: Glad to see Honda jumping on the turbo train.
Promise: The design, handling and performance make me wonder: How will the upcoming Si go above and beyond this benchmark?
Head-turners: The new design, as well as the bright colors, will command your attention.
Road warrior: You just might want to take the long and winding road home.
Upscale cabin: It's hard to believe this is a $26K car.
The bottom line: Top-notch tech, interiors and turbo performance trickle down to a Civic that is raising the bar on what a compact car can be. Now, about that color . . .