The 2016 Honda Civic Coupe is a $26,125 Thrill Ride Waiting to Happen

Tech Features
The 2016 Honda Civic Coupe is a $26,125 Thrill Ride Waiting to Happen

If you took a turbocharged engine and stuck it into a Honda Civic, what would happen? That’s an appealing concept worth exploring when it comes to the Civic Coupe Touring, which has a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and a fresh design. It’s a sleek, appealing, and quick sedan that won’t make you feel like you need to eat ramen the rest of your life to afford the high ticket price.

At 174-horsepower, the low-profile Coupe Touring felt like it was ready to go into heavy rotation at the local track or at least make it much more exciting to drive to the Shopko across town. You blink twice and stare at the Civic badge. “You sure this is a Civic?” you might ask the dealer. I’ve tested many similar cars to the Civic Coupe but they usually come with the Subaru or Lexus brand. The one I tested is bright blue and has a curvy design that even reminded me a bit of an Audi A3.

Driving it is a bit surprising. Around the same time, I was testing a Lexus IS 200t with a bigger engine (about 241-horsepower) but both cars offer a nicely spirited drive. You won’t drag race with a Corvette or a Mustang, but you also won’t have to take out a second mortgage on your house to buy one. (That $26,125 price is for the Touring model; the base price runs for $19,050.)

I tend to take the same exact corner on a nearby highway with every test car, about a mile from my house. It’s make-it-or-break-it time for most cars. You definitely want to slow down if you’re driving an SUV or a crossover, and some small sedans and budget cars bulk right away. It’s not exactly a hairpin turn but it’s in the same general category. To my surprise, the Civic Coupe had no trouble zipping around the corner. In fact, I had to try it a few times just to make sure (ahem).

As with any turbo-charged small car, there’s a nice pushback off the starting block. A turbo works like a vacuum cleaner in how it sucks in air and generates more power. You can feel it on the Coupe especially when you merge into traffic starting at around 45 or 50 MPH. Maybe I was hearing my neighbors lawnmower, but the Coupe also makes a nice purring sound.

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For tech features, this is one of the most advanced small cars on the road. The Touring has lane-keeping assist that keeps you centered automatically. A Honda rep told me it’s designed for driving with your hands on the wheel, not hands-free like a Tesla Model S with Autopilot. Still, you feel some slight resistance to help you stay in your lane, even around corners. When you combine that setting (a small button on the steering console that looks like a steering wheel) with adaptive cruise control (e.g., the car adjusts its speed based on the vehicle in front of you), it’s like you have come pretty close to robotic driving.

Mostly, these features are for safety and not convenience. If you don’t pay attention like you should, the car will keep scanning for you. It’s not an excuse to look at your phone, but it does help with other distracted driving problems like reaching behind you for a banana on the floor (first hand experience with that one).

Overall, I was impressed with how sporty the Coupe feels and how, at this price, it’s outfitted with so many safety tech features. Then I tried the stereo. Somebody is going to get in trouble for this and it will probably be me when I play 50 Cent way too loud in a public setting. The door handles rattle. The roof rattles. You rattle. I’m not sure what they did, but I could just sit in the car and play The Boxcar Rebellion all day and not even drive anywhere. Seriously. If you can go to a Honda dealer and talk them into letting you sit in the Touring model, get your Bluetooth connection queued up and ready and make sure you listen to something loud and obnoxious. I’d buy this car just for the stereo. At just north of $26,000, that’s somewhat of an option for me.

It’s fun to drive, sporty enough for the track, has some of the latest tech, and makes 50 Cent worth every penny. If you need more convincing than that, you must be a Subaru snob.

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