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2009 Honda Civic Si, In-Detail - (Australia)

April 3rd, 2009
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Globally, Civic is Honda’s best selling model and over 19 million units of this automotive icon have been produced and sold around the world during the past 37 years - 30 percent of all Honda sales globally. Civic has frequently served as the vehicle for the latest Honda technology and this model is no exception.

The development of the Civic Si has perfectly mirrored Honda’s global theme - The Power of Dreams - which means not only coming up with new ideas but also having the determination to turn those ideas into reality.

“I remember sitting down to think about my own dream for Civic”, explains Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, the Large Project Leader of the new Civic, “We set out to create a revolution for the European market that would excite our customers and that our competitors would have to follow. Importantly, we also wanted this revolution of one car to continue the revolution of Honda’s business in Europe.This was our dream when we began the development of the all-new Civic”.

In Australia, Honda expects the new Civic to be popular with customers in their mid 30s to mid 40s, mainly female, single or double income with no kids, or young families. The Civic Si appeals to forward thinkers both in work and in their private lives. Civic drivers enjoy expressing a special status, have a strong interest in career development, love new technology and recognise value in functionality that can benefit their personal lives. They demonstrate social responsibility without giving up the pursuit of their own enjoyment.

The Civic has always been a car to lead in new directions, to create new standards and more value for the customer. At a time when cars are growing increasingly similar, this model has introduced a new approach to the small car.

Exterior Design

To have a stronger footprint on Europe’s roads and to raise the quality of Honda’s design in the European market, the Civic Si needed to be more individual and have stronger style. It had to be something completely different from other cars on the road.

Crucial to the development of this revolutionary design was the Japanese Kimono. The human body can be seen as the frame of the car and the clothes are the
exterior design. Having this in mind, European clothes are tightly fit to the body, tending to show the body shape. A Japanese Kimono wraps itself around the body in a plain manner but with sharp lines. Thus, the combination of sensual movement (a European quality) and unpretentious sharp-edge design (a Japanese quality) were incorporated as much as possible into the design of the new Civic hatch.

When the general trend within the motor industry is for each successive generation to be larger than its predecessor, it may come as a surprise to learn that the exterior dimensions of the new Civic Si are smaller and lower than the previous model. Overall length is 4,270mm and height 1,460mm, both down by 35mm.
What may be even more surprising is that the interior dimensions do not suffer at all. While the length and the height decreased, Honda has increased the overall width by 65mm, to 1,765mm, and the front and rear tracks to 1,504mm (up 34mm) and 1,510mm (up 45mm), respectively, to create a more dynamic silhouette and a better handling car.

Interior Design

At first sight, the new styling would suggest limited interior practicality. But the new Civic Si redefines interior packaging standards and, by combining futuristic design with versatility, practicality and utility are raised to a new level.

The Civic Si’s fascia is based on the Dual Link concept, which separates the dashboard area into two functional “links”: one for providing visual information and the other for the various controls. By extensive analysis of these two functions, Honda succeeded in re-establishing an interface between the man and the
machine. As a result, Honda was able to give the Civic Si a near-futuristic, high-tech and sporty cockpit. Furthermore, this Dual Link dashboard, with its distinct three-dimensional effect, was made possible due to the exterior’s wedge-shaped, cab-forward design.

Within the Dual Link dashboard is the Multiplex instrument panel, in which important driving information, including vehicle speed, is displayed in the upper part of the instrument panel, while other information is provided in the lower part. Positioning essential information as high on the fascia as possible means the driver needs to make only minimal eye movements between the road and the display, thus contributing to safety as well as enhancing the driving experience. The electronic display occupying the upper portion features a central speedometer, with rev indicator lights to its left and an Eco indicator to the right. Beneath this is the large tachometer and within this, the multi-information display with odometer, trip (twin trip), outside temperature, instant fuel consumption, distance to empty, average vehicle speed, average fuel economy and elapsed time.

The multi-functional steering wheel retains the current Honda layout, offering good operability. On the top left hand side are the audio control switches and on the opposite side the cruise control buttons and the multi-info display switches. Illumination allows easy recognition at night.

At the same time, the steering wheel tilt angle has been altered to achieve a more vertical, sporty position and offers more legroom for the driver. This steering wheel tilt adjustment, together with telescopic adjustment, allows for a greater range of movement of the driver’s seat, offering a more comfortable and sportier driving position to a wider variety of drivers.

Soft touch materials are used for the upper sections of the dashboard and the door panels, while the lower section of the dashboard, the centre console and the lower part of the door panels are covered with a leather-effect grain.

Currently, the Civic range is produced in 13 countries and sold in approximately 160 world markets.

Packaging - “Hidden Versatility”

The previous Civic hatch was highly praised for its cabin space, yet despite the new model’s more compact external dimensions, it still offers a distinct advance in interior packaging over its predecessor. The tandem distance (measured from the hip point of the front seat passenger to that of the rear seat passenger and a key indicator of in-car roominess) for example, is 822.7mm.

Exceptional utility is provided by rear seats that are similar in concept to the ‘Magic seats’ in the Honda Jazz. The split-fold rear seat can be tipped up to form a second storage area in the rear passenger cabin. The rear seats also have a onemotion, dive-down feature that instantaneously creates a flat loading space. When the front passenger seat is fully reclined, objects with a total length of up to 2.6 metres can be accommodated. The luggage compartment volume is 415 litres with the rear seats in the upright position.

The storage package is defined by large capacity, multiple usage and improved usability. There is an illuminated 14 litre glove-box, a large capacity (1 litre) centre pocket, a large capacity (6.9 litres) console box, a multi-use double cup holder with sliding lid and all four doors are equipped with storage spaces ideally suited to holding bottles (500ml).

Powertrain

The Civic Si hatch is powered by a Euro4 compliant, SOHC 1.8 litre i-VTEC engine producing 103 kW on 91RON fuel that is married to a standard 6-speed manual
gearbox or optional 5-speed automatic transmission.

The 1.8 litre i-VTEC engine made its debut in the 8th generation Civic sedan in 2006 as a completely new engine. It provides levels of driveability, fuel efficiency, emissions and performance that confirm Honda’s outstanding reputation for advanced engine technology and its position as the world’s largest engine manufacturer.

The 1.8-litre engine is significant because it marked the debut of a further advance in Honda’s acclaimed i-VTEC system that is designed to reduce pumping losses and therefore improve fuel economy.

The main priorities behind the 1.8-litre engine’s development were to create a power unit that would perform well at mid and low revs, yet remain responsive in all scenarios. On the other hand, it had to be a quiet engine with a refined feel to the sound quality, essential in a car that will compete at the premium end of small hatches. It also had to fit within the limited space under the bonnet without interfering with either the overall design or handling characteristics. Last but certainly not least, it had to achieve good fuel economy and low emissions and that was where the state-of-the-art VTEC technology was instrumental in meeting these objectives.

6-speed manual transmission

The 6-speed manual transmission replaces the 5-speed of the previous Civic hatch, however shift feel has been improved thanks to a shorter synchromesh sleeve
stroke, a linkless rotation select structure and high capacity detent bearings that generate less friction. This transmission is more compact and has reduced friction. At the same time, the stroke was reduced, the ratios are closer and the overall feel improved.

5-Speed Automatic Transmission

The Civic Si hatch is also available with an electronically controlled 5-speed automatic transmission. This all-new transmission - a first for the Civic - improves on the previous 4-speed with wider overall ratios to maximise acceleration in gears one through four and optimise fuel economy in its fifth gear. The computer controlled direct control transmission provides amazingly smooth shifts.

The direct control coupled with gear ratios that are matched to the engine’s output help extract more power at just the right time to provide overall vehicle
performance, competitive to vehicles with 4-speed automatic transmissions, and more horsepower.

The 5-speed automatic transmission uses a wide variety of technology that provides smoother shifting as well as reduced friction for enhanced efficiency. Those technologies include a low-friction clutch and a special super-thin torque converter. The thin torque converter results in a compact transmission unit. Other space-saving measures include; a double-row idle gear and a tightly packaged second-gear clutch.

To improve powertrain smoothness and reduce gear “hunting” on steep grades, the 5-speed automatic transmission is also equipped with a Grade Logic Control system. To maximise fuel economy while maintaining high levels of driveability, the 5-speed automatic transmission includes an active lockup torque converter. With the precise control afforded by a linear solenoid, the system expands the speed and throttle setting range in which lockup can be engaged.

Chassis

The Civic Si hatch was an important model for Honda and was specifically developed for Europe - thoroughly tested in Europe, with local drivers so that the appropriate ride and handling standards were attained. Special emphasis was placed on stability and sporty handling, while overall body rigidity was increased compared to the previous Civic hatch. The new Civic Si is easy to drive thanks to its driver-oriented interior featuring clear visibility and excellent ergonomics. It’s also fun to drive thanks to responsive handling and great steering feel that should appeal to the sporty driver.

A wide track and comparatively long wheelbase is just part of the story. The front suspension uses a proven MacPherson strut featuring a higher castor setting and a quicker EPS (Electric Power Steering) ratio. The front sub-frame’s pressed steel centre member and aluminium cast side members filter out vibrations and improve overall comfort and refinement. Steering stability is further improved by optimising the damper mountings and compliance bushings and overall performance is enhanced by the sophisticated damper design. Lateral forces are contained by a special spring while the aluminium lower arm saves weight and raises rigidity.

At the rear, the torsion beam configuration is designed to create a virtual arm length that optimises the position of the roll centre. Excellent damping performance is provided by high-response mono tube dampers, with coil springs that are totally independent. Suspension geometry was carefully calculated to achieve outstanding high speed stability.

The electric power steering generates outstanding feel, its higher output, lower inertia, increased rigidity, lower friction, enhanced controllability and lower consumption are among its key benefits when compared to a hydraulic system.

Five Star Safety

The Civic Si is one of Europe’s safest cars according to the latest crash test results from EuroNCAP. Under the new rating scheme introduced in February 2009, the Civic Si achieves an overall five star rating.

EuroNCAP’s new assessment reflects Honda’s commitment to overall vehicle safety, and follows on from the five star result achieved by the new Honda Accord Euro. Honda has always been committed to making vehicles safe for passengers and pedestrians.

The new rating system compliments Honda’s long standing in-house safety testing which seeks to improve real world safety. Honda’s car-to-car crash test facility at Tochigi analyses impacts between models of different sizes and weights and develop solutions to mitigate injuries for both parties.

All models are equipped with ABS and, for optimum performance, Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) to achieve maximum braking performance and stability. It also features, across the range, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) designed to assist the driver in maintaining control during cornering, acceleration and sudden manoeuvres by applying braking to the right or left hand wheels as necessary and managing the throttle and brake systems.

Passive safety has always been paramount at Honda and the Civic has an innovative seat belt reminder system for the rear passengers. The system interprets the opening and closing of the rear doors and displays the rear seat belt sign on the multi-info instrument panel. The SRS unit then determines the status of each seatbelt buckle and sends the information to the display (showing from zero to to four in use). Special attention was also paid to passengers in the front, with both front seats fitted with double pre-tensioners.

Manufacturing

Ever since its birth in 1972, the Civic has undergone many evolutionary changes to maintain its position as the most successful car built by Honda, accounting for roughly one-third Honda sales worldwide. Today, the Civic is built in 13 countries and sold in 160 markets around the globe.

The new Civic Si is built at Honda’s UK manufacturing plant in Swindon.


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