Honda Civic Hybrid Review

As the price of fuel tries to take up permanent residence north of a dollar a litre, everyone is starting to look seriously at minimizing their future fuel costs and hybrid vehicles are making starting to make financial, as well as environmental sense.

Hybrid technology; where the best of electric and internal combustion technology are combined; is the way of the immediate future as it milks the best out of two technologies. The fuel miser recipe is to take a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder Ultra Low Emission internal combustion engine, because of its better mid-range power. Combine it with an ultra-thin electric motor; for its low speed torque and its ability to also generate power back into the batteries as it slows the vehicle. Blend well, using a constantly variable transmission and a computer system to manage the relationship and you have a vehicle that will fit most tastes.

However up until now the general motoring public has been slow to be embraced this technology, mainly because of the expense and compromise to creature comforts but the Honda Civic hybrid could reverse this trend.

First, the price wont scare you as it is only $3,000 dearer than the garden variety Honda Civic and when you hop into it is almost exactly the same, so the technology wont scare you. The only hint that you are in something different is a small gauge in the dash that tells you when the hybrid system is delivering power back into the batteries.

Honda Civic is quiet, especially when stationary as the petrol engine turns itself off, to be instantly started again by the electric motor when you push the accelerator. But I must say that waiting to turn at a busy Adelaide intersection, in an vehicle that does not having an engine running, does challenge your trust in the technology. However it works and a large part of the fuel savings come from not wasting petrol idling when it is not needed.

The Civic Hybrid cannot be used as an electric vehicle like the Toyota Prius as the 10kW electric motor is only there to the assist the 69kW petrol engine at times when it needs more power.

Because the fuel consumption difference between the Honda Civic Hybrid and the conventional Civic GLi is 2.3 liters per 100kms and the Hybrid is $3,000 dearer, it will take about 6 to 8 years of fuel cost saving to pay for the difference. Obviously it will be much shorter if you travel more kilometers than the average driver. On road test we achieved 7 liters per 100 kms, which is far short of the 5.2 claimed by Honda, but still very good.

The Nickel – Metal – Hydride battery has a life of around 10 years or 200,000 kms and a replacement will about $1,980.

On the road Civic Hybrid rode well, behaving and performing very much like a normal Civic. It is well equipped with safety equipment having dual stage, front air bags as well as side air bags. The system also has occupant sensors to only deploy the airbag when it is safe to do so.

Unlike its predecessors there is reasonable storage space in the boot as battery sits behind the rear seat.
The Honda Civic Hybrid is the beginning of a new generation of affordable and responsible vehicles that will progressively become the norm.

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