As you may already know, Honda makes three types of Civic these days. There’s the stalwart but hardly stale Sedan, that’s pretty much the staple of Canadian commuting, the sporty Coupe that’s been…

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si Road Test

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
The new Honda Civic Coupe Si combines all the legendary performance Si fans have grown to love, with awesome style, premium levels of content and excellent fuel economy. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As you may already know, Honda makes three types of Civic these days. There’s the stalwart but hardly stale Sedan, that’s pretty much the staple of Canadian commuting, the sporty Coupe that’s been with us on and off since 1993, and the recently reincarnated Hatchback, which represents the spiritual return to the model’s 1972 roots. 

The first Si was based on the now very collectable two-seat 1985 CRX, but just a year later a third-generation two-door Civic Hatchback became the first-gen Civic Si. The 91 horsepower sport compact quickly earned a devoted following thanks to quick acceleration, a superb five-speed manual gearbox, and excellent handling, all mixed with loads of passenger, cargo and economical practicality. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
The new Civic Coupe Si looks great from all angles. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Now, oddly enough, no Civic Hatchback Si is offered, although Civic Type R fans are hardly complaining. The 306 horsepower super-compact has earned instant legend status on both roads and tracks like the Nürburgring Nordschleife, where it currently holds the fastest front-wheel drive production car title, leaving the Si for sport compact enthusiasts wanting a little more day-to-day livability. 

Maybe livability isn’t the right word, because the Type R’s hatchback layout makes it easily suited to family and cargo hauling, but its massive non-carbon rear wing makes that hatch a hefty weight to lift, its radical front seat bolsters are a tad uncomfortable to negotiate after a four-course meal, the centre console-dividing rear seat is limiting to passenger capacity, and the car’s generally edgier driving dynamics might be a bit overzealous for some regular commuters. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
LED headlights, blacked out trim, and sharp looking 18-inch alloys set the new Civic Si apart. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While a future Hatchback Si might be the best passenger/cargo compromise, and the currently available Sedan Si an obvious choice for those looking to maximize performance and pragmatism, you might be surprised at how much room the Coupe Si has inside. Of course, climbing into the rear seating area is hardly as easy as stepping through a back door, but Honda has fixed three seatbelts across the rear bench, and the middle position isn’t so high that it would be uncomfortable for a fifth passenger, plus kids would probably like its slight elevation. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
This rear wing definitely has purpose, adding downforce that keeps the rear end planted during high-speed manoeuvres. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Just to find out for myself, I set the driver’s seat for my five-foot-eight height, climbed through a fairly wide opening into a comfortable outboard seat, and was once again reminded that this two-door sport coupe is sized more like a sedan than most rivals in this segment. I had three inches of space remaining above my head, at least six inches ahead of my knees, and plenty of room from side to side. The rear seats provided good back support too, but take note there’s no centre armrest and the ones to each side are made from uncomfortable hard plastic. 

At least the seatbacks are split 60/40 for expanding the usability of the slightly reduced 289-litre trunk, plus they’re equipped with convenient release pulls under the lid. So I think we can agree that the Civic Coupe Si is plenty practical. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
The Civic Coupe’s wrap-over taillight assembly provides a dramatic styling benefit to the Coupe Si’s rear view. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I like the way the Coupe Si looks too, especially when finished in Rallye Red, one of five colours available. A high contrast colour really helps the gloss and matte black details across the grille stand out, not to mention the blackened trim surrounding the LED headlamps, along the lower fascia, around the side windows, highlighting the wheels, edging the LED taillights, and darkening the rear diffuser, although you might like the ominously inky look of the Crystal Black Pearl painted version better. No matter the colour, the Coupe Si looks menacing from up front, and makes a sharply wedged profile from the side, capped off with a large yet still tasteful rear spoiler that adds style and downforce. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
All new Civics are fitted with a new level of style, quality and refinement inside, leaving Si models to enhance that with sportier components and trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

And yes, the Coupe Si can reach track speeds of up to 220 km/h, which is certainly fast enough to require the extra stability provided by an aero-tuned spoiler. That high-speed performance comes via a recalibrated six-speed manual transmission fed by a new 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with dual variable cam timing, which makes the same 205 horsepower as the previous model’s 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four, yet 18 lb-ft of additional torque resulting in a 192 lb-ft maximum. 

The new power unit is more tractable too, thanks to full power arriving 1,300 rpm lower in the rev range at 5,700 rpm instead of 7,000, whereas the aforementioned max torque comes on 2,300 rpm earlier at 2,100 rpm compared to 4,400 in the old model, plus that twist is sustained over 70 percent of the engine’s rev range. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
The Civic Coupe Si cockpit adds a more performance oriented look that features plenty of red highlights. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

With Sport mode engaged the Coupe Si’s straight-line acceleration feels a lot more spirited than the numbers show, standstill to 100km/h requiring 7.2 seconds. Like I said, by the seat of the pants the Si feels much quicker, and it was never designed to be a drag racer anyway. 

Find an open stretch of curving back road and the Coupe Si immediately shows its key strength, adeptly managing corners. It’s always been one of my favourite cars to drive fast, and the new chassis setup is easily the most stable in Si history. You can fling it into the sharpest of corners at almost any reasonable speed, and the worst you’ll get is mild understeer. It’s wonderfully balanced, totally predictable, and ruddy fast when pushed hard. An off camber curve? No problem, even if you hit a bump or pothole halfway through. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
Honda upgrades the already superb Civic gauge cluster with sporty red embellishment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The Civic’s already better than average fully independent front strut, rear multi-link suspension has been tweaked for even greater capability, with beefier 27 mm front and 18 mm rear stabilizer bars plus adaptive dampers, so the Coupe Si is totally up to the task. The steering is ideally weighted for optimal control too, providing positive, quick response to input and decent feedback, while a helical limited slip differential makes the most of available traction. Likewise, braking is strong with very little fade, even after repeated stomps. Truly, the Si remains one of the best cars available for embarrassing Mustang GT owners, as long as you’re on a tight twisting two-laner. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
The Si gets a fully loaded version of the Civic’s excellent infotainment touchscreen, upgraded with a red background. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If a pit stop is required that Mustang owner will also need a lot more time to fill up at the pump, the Coupe Si’s 46.9-litre tank capable of going a lot farther thanks to claimed fuel economy of 8.4 L/100km city, 6.2 highway and 7.4 combined, which incidentally is a massive improvement over the previously model’s 10.8 city, 7.6 highway and 9.4 combined. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
This is a wireless device charging pad, and it comes standard with the Civic Si. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The rubber responsible for reducing rolling resistance while simultaneously providing all that aforementioned grip is a set of 235/40R18 91W Goodyear Eagle Sport performance tires, wrapped around stylish 18-inch, 10-spoke, machine-finished alloys with glossy black painted pockets, while additional standard features include proximity keyless access, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, illuminated steering wheel-mounted cruise, audio, phone and Driver Information Interface (DII) controls, dual-zone auto climate control, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, Honda’s exclusive LaneWatch blindspot display, navigation, voice activation, Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity with streaming audio, wireless device charging, 452-watt 10-speaker premium audio with satellite and HD radio, heatable front seats, and much more for just $29,090 plus freight and fees, as verified on CarCostCanada.com along with dealer invoice pricing and the latest rebate information, while its rigid body structure design and full assortment of standard safety kit help it achieve a 5-star rating from the NHTSA. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
Breaking with market trends, this six-speed manual remains the only transmission on offer. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While Honda provides plenty of dealer-added accessories, such as an Illumination Package and Protection Package, different alloy wheels, aero add-ons, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an ambient lighting kit, an illuminated console, plus cargo protection and organization gear, it doesn’t offer any factory options with the Coupe Si. This said you can now move up to the new Coupe Si HFP (Honda Factory Performance) trim level that features a special lip spoiler and side sills, unique 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport suspension with modified active dampers that reportedly improve handling and ride quality, plus a handful of interior upgrades for $34,790. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
These superb sport seats provide total comfort with just the right amount of sporty side bolstering. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Whether choosing a regular Coupe Si or the new HFP model, all of the aforementioned features come housed in one of the more impressive cabins in the compact class, starting with all that makes the regular Civic Coupe good, such as ergonomically friendly and artistically innovative interior design, premium-level soft-touch synthetics on key surfaces, attractive metal accents, superb switchgear throughout, and one of the best semi-digital gauge clusters in the class, complemented by an equally impressive infotainment touchscreen, all upgraded to Si standards. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
Climbing into the back seat is easy. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This means the interior theme is red on black, although only with tasteful splashes of the former so as to spice up, rather than overwhelm the look. The steering wheel, featuring red baseball stitching around the inside, is ideally shaped for comfort and control, while red stitching adorns the leather and metal shift knob and leather boot just below. The Si cabin’s go-fast appeal is further enhanced with aluminum sport pedals, while the engine ignition button glows in a soft red, mirroring the red highlighted electronic interfaces to each side. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
There’s plenty of room for three in back, and the seating area is spacious and comfortable for small to average sized adults. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Furthermore, the red “Si” embroidered sport seats are heavily bolstered and covered in black woven upholstery that’s highlighted with a thick grey patterned stripe to each side of the inset, plus two lines of red stitching on the bolsters. They look fabulous and feel even better, and by that I mean they’re not as radically shaped as the Type R’s, allowing easier ingress and egress, yet they’re still supportive enough for most peoples’ performance needs. 

2018 Honda Civic Coupe Si
The trunk is decently sized for a sport coupe, plus 60/40-split rear seatbacks add flexibility. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That last point sums up any Si. It’s a car that can be driven daily in absolute comfort without sacrificing practical needs including fuel economy, while it’s still fully capable of tearing up a stretch of tarmac, whether that be on a lonely back country road or at your local parking lot autocross. It’ll even do you proud on the racetrack, and no doubt surprise a few V8-powered pony car owners as they try to keep up in the curves at the next “Run What Ya Brung” event. I’ve experienced this firsthand, and the jaw-dropping looks on their faces are priceless. 

Of course, they should really know better. A lot of sport compact competitors have come and gone over the past 30 years, but the Honda Civic Si has continued to thrill its owners with superb performance on and off the track for three decades strong. It’s a legendary name, and the latest 2018 Civic Coupe Si, along with its four-door Sedan Si sibling, is totally worthy of carrying the mantle forward.

How do you make the new Civic Si even better than it already is? The Si is legendary and this new 10th-generation the most exciting version yet, but despite already offering superb stock sport compact…

HFP package adds more style and sport to Honda’s Civic Si line

2018 Honda Civic Si HFP
A new Civic Si HFP trim upgrade adds sporty new styling details, new wheels, a sport suspension and interior mods. (Photo: Honda)

How do you make the new Civic Si even better than it already is? The Si is legendary and this new 10th-generation the most exciting version yet, but despite already offering superb stock sport compact performance, Honda has decided there’s room for improvement. 

Enter the new Civic Si HFP. Yes, Civic Nation will already be well aware of the Honda Factory Performance moniker, because the Japanese automaker offered “HFP” branded aerodynamic body kits, performance-tuned suspension components, and larger, lighter alloy wheels for the eighth- and ninth-generation Civics, and likewise for the subcompact Fit hatchback. 

2018 Honda Civic Si HFP
The HFP upgrade can be added to both Si Coupe and Sedan body styles. (Photo: Honda)

With respect to the current 10th-generation Civic, a recent Honda Canada press release says the Honda Factory Performance package adds a bevy of “aesthetic and dynamic enhancements.” The former includes a new bright red front lip spoiler for “a subtle, yet fierce look,” which is “complemented by side skirts designed to improve downforce.” 

The new Si HFP also gets unique 19-inch HFP matte black alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot 4S maximum-performance category rubber, these an inch larger than those on the standard Si and specified for both daily use and racetrack capability. Lastly, red and black Civic Si HFP badging gets added to the sides and rear of the car, warning regular Civic Si owners to back off. 

2018 Honda Civic Si HFP
Rallye Red is only available with the Si HFP Coupe, whereas White Orchid Pearl and Crystal Black Pearl can be had with both body styles. (Photo: Honda)

Why? No doubt those sportier wheels and tires make enough of improvement on their own, but nevertheless, behind their matte black goodness and below all that sharp looking bodywork is an upgraded HFP sport suspension with modified active dampers that not only improves ultimate performance on road and track, but also enhances the Si HFP’s ride quality over its conventionally sprung sibling. 

The Honda Factory Performance package also benefits the interior by adding a new leather-wrapped shifter with red stitching, as well as an eye-catching set of red and black HFP branded floor mats. 

2018 Honda Civic Si HFP
The Civic Sedan Si is already a serious sport sedan, but the new HFP trim makes it even better on the street and track. (Photo: Honda)

The rest of the Civic Si HFP is stock Si, which means the interior is wholly more impressive than any previous Si, with two of the most comfortable and supportive sport seats in the class, plus refinement levels amongst the compact segment’s most impressive, not to mention some of its best digital interfaces. 

While Honda refers to the Civic Si HFP upgrades as a “Honda Factory Performance package” in its press release, it’s more accurately an entirely new trim level, as it’s delivered complete from the factory and shown on the brand’s retail website “Build” configuration tool. What’s more, this track-ready model is exclusive to Canada. 

2018 Honda Civic Si HFP
Specially designed lightweight 19-inch HFP alloys look good in their matte black finish. (Photo: Honda)

Like the regular Si, the new Si HFP is available in both Sedan and Coupe body styles, while behind its glossy black grille is the same turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine as in the standard Si, which is once again good for 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, while one of the industry’s best six-speed manual transmissions continues to take care of shifting duties and a limited slip differential makes sure all that power gets down to the road. 

Civic Si HFP pricing starts at $34,390 for the Sedan and $34,790 for the Coupe, adding $5,700 on top of regular Si suggested prices, with colour choices being White Orchid Pearl and Crystal Black Pearl for the four-door and White Orchid Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl and Rallye Red for the two-door.

Timing is everything, or so the saying goes, but with Canadian pump prices rising at an alarming rate in some jurisdictions, it appears the age-old adage couldn’t be truer and Honda’s timing couldn’t…

Honda Accord Hybrid arrives just in time to battle high pump prices

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
The new 2018 Accord Hybrid brings a new level of style to the mid-size hybrid sedan segment. (Photo: Honda)

Timing is everything, or so the saying goes, but with Canadian pump prices rising at an alarming rate in some jurisdictions, it appears the age-old adage couldn’t be truer and Honda’s timing couldn’t be better for the all-new 2018 Accord Hybrid. 

The new model’s official April launch date arrived just in time for Metro Vancouver fuel prices to hit record highs, bouncing up against a dollar and 60 cents per litre resistance that has since proven penetrable. Local authorities aren’t promising any relief over the summer, with some predicting the exact opposite. 

Even if you live elsewhere in Canada, current fuel prices may still be eating into your budget. As of Thursday, July 5, GasBuddy.com showed the average Canadian gasoline price as 134.4 cents per litre, which is a 2.6-cent-per-litre increase from the prior week. That represents a 26-cent rise from the average of 109.4 cents per litre in July of 2017. While it hasn’t yet reached the highest average pump price ever recorded in Canada, which was 142.4 cents in August of 2008, this is still a hard pill to swallow for those driving less fuel-efficient vehicles. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
The Accord Hybrid features the same sleek four-door coupe lines as the conventionally powered Accord. (Photo: Honda)

Enter the new 2018 Accord Hybrid, which combines all the positive attributes of the recently redesigned 2018 Accord sedan, a model that recently beat the new Toyota Camry and all other new entries to win the revered Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s (AJAC) 2018 Canadian Car of the Year award, with a highly advanced two-motor hybrid-electric powertrain capable of a claimed 5.0 L/100km in the city, 5.1 on the highway and 5.1 combined. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
From front to back, the new Accord Hybrid has style in its corner. (Photo: Honda)

This brings Accord Hybrid fuel economy within close range of the new 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid, which is estimated to achieve 4.9 city, 4.8 highway and 4.9 combined in base trim, albeit take note that a fully loaded Honda Accord Hybrid Touring still gets the same mileage as the base model, whereas the top-line Camry Hybrid XSE is rated at 5.3, 5.0 and 5.1 respectively, losing out to the Accord Hybrid in the city, where it matters most. 

A unique two-motor hybrid powertrain joins an efficient 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine to provide the Accord Hybrid with a class leading total system output of 212 horsepower, while its electric drive motor puts 232 lb-ft of almost instantaneous torque down to the front wheels for strong straight-line performance. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
These 17-inch alloy wheels come standard on both base and Touring trims. (Photo: Honda)

To be clear, one of the electric motors drives the front wheels, while a smaller secondary motor serves mainly as a generator, providing electric current to the drive motor in order to supplement or replace power from the battery during lighter loads, such as cruising. The second motor also starts the engine that in-turn adds torque to the wheels, but it’s never used as the motive driving force for those wheels. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
Like with the regular 2018 Accord, the new Accord Hybrid gets standard LED headlamps and LED taillights. (Photo: Honda)

Additionally, the car’s Electric-Continuously Variable Transmission, or E-CVT, removes any need for a conventional automatic transmission, or even a traditional belt/chain-operated continuously variable transmission (CVT), both of which inherently rob performance and efficiencies from the powertrain. Instead, Honda’s E-CVT drives the front wheels directly through four fixed drive ratio gearsets, without the need to shift gears or vary a planetary ratio. This means there is no “rubber-band” effect when accelerating as experienced in regular CVTs, or in other words the engine is never forced to maintain steady high rpms until road speed gradually catches up, this process causing a much-criticized audible “droning” effect. Honda claims its direct-drive technology benefits from 46 to 80 percent less friction than a conventional automatic transmission, depending on the drive mode. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
Thanks to 212 net hp and 232 total lb-ft of torque the Accord provides stronger performance than any mid-size hybrid sedan rival. (Photo: Honda)

Drivers can choose between three standard propulsion modes as well, including electric-only (providing the 6.7-kWh lithium-ion battery is charged sufficiently), gasoline-only, or blended gas and electric (hybrid), while a standard SPORT drive mode joins ECON and EV modes as well, all found on Honda’s exclusive pushbutton/rocker switch gear selector that comes complete with an electromechanical parking brake lever and an automatic brake hold button. Honda also includes standard steering wheel shift paddles, but take note these are specifically for downshifts during deceleration. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
The Accord Hybrid gets the same high-quality interior as the regular model, plus a higher level of standard features. (Photo: Honda)

Another positive is styling, thanks to the new Accord Hybrid not visually deviating from the conventionally powered Accord sedan’s design, the latter having received a lot of positive feedback from the automotive press and customers alike. This said, Honda changes some minor trim pieces as well as the wheels, but few will likely notice any visual differences between a regular Accord sedan and the Accord Hybrid. 

The high-quality 2018 Accord interior has been carried forward into the new Accord Hybrid too, with premium-level soft-touch synthetic surfaces in key areas, attractive metallic and matte-finish woodgrain inlays, high-resolution digital interfaces, and more, while the Accord Hybrid is just as accommodating for front occupants and rear passengers as the roomy conventionally powered model. Its voluminous trunk hasn’t changed in size either, providing 473 litres of available space and handy 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks for fitting in longer cargo. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
The left two-thirds of the Accord Hybrid’s gauge cluster is made up of a 7.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display. (Photo: Honda)

Like the regular Accord, there are noticeable differences between the base Accord Hybrid and top-line Touring trim, such as an upgraded set of full LED headlamps with the addition of light emitting diodes for the high beams, unique signature LED elements around the outside of the headlamp clusters, chrome-enhanced door handles, and if chosen the availability of no-cost Obsidian Blue Pearl exterior paint instead of standard Crystal Black Pearl and $300 White Orchid Pearl, the only two colours offered with the base model. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
This 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen comes standard, as does a multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, gesture controls, and more. (Photo: Honda)

On that note, pricing for the 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid starts at $33,090 for the base model and $39,790 for Touring trim, plus freight and fees, with key standard features on the base model including 17-inch alloy wheels, auto-on/off LED headlights (low beam only) with automatic high beams, LED fog lamps, LED taillights, a remote engine starter, proximity keyless access with pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a 7.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display within the primary gauge cluster, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with tablet-style tap, swipe and pinch gesture controls, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, Honda’s exclusive LaneWatch blindspot display, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, near field communication (NFC), 452-watt audio with 10 speakers including a subwoofer, two front and two rear USB charging ports, SMS text message and email reading functionality, Wi-Fi tethering, a 12-way powered driver’s seat with four-way powered lumbar support, heated front seats, the HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response system, plus all the expected active and passive safety features including front knee airbags. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
Honda makes its unique button and rocker switch filled gear selector standard with the new Accord Hybrid. (Photo: Honda)

Unexpected safety features can be found in the standard Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assistance equipment, including Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow, Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), and traffic sign recognition, this being enough to earn the regular 2018 Accord a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS when equipped with its upgraded headlights, while all Accord trims get a best-possible five stars from the NHTSA. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
The Accord Hybrid features the same interior dimensions as the regular Accord, making it one of the more spacious hybrid sedans currently available. (Photo: Honda)

Additional 2018 Accord Hybrid Touring trim features not yet mentioned include Blind Spot Information (BSI) with Rear Cross Traffic Monitor system (replaces the aforementioned LaneWatch blind spot display), adaptive dampers to improve handling, rain-sensing wipers, a head-up display (HUD), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, passenger side mirror reverse gear tilt-down, a HomeLink garage door remote, a powered moonroof, front and rear parking sensors, navigation, voice recognition, satellite and HD radio capability, wireless device charging, an AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot, driver’s seat memory, a four-way powered front passenger’s seat, a heatable steering wheel rim, perforated leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, and more. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
With 473 litres of cargo space along with 60/40-split rear seatbacks, the Accord Hybrid is just as accommodating for cargo as the conventionally powered model. (Photo: Honda)

While the new Accord Hybrid is exciting enough on its own, it was preceded by the even more efficient Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, which is sized similarly to the Accord yet features totally unique styling that helps it stand out more distinctively as an alternative fuels vehicle. The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid starts at $39,900, and receives a Transport Canada fuel economy rating of 5.3 L/100km in the city, 5.9 on the highway, and 5.6 combined in regular hybrid mode, or much better efficiency when its considerably larger battery is externally charged on a regular basis and its EV mode is engaged, resulting in much greater electric-only range. 

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
This is no ordinary hybrid electric powertrain, thanks to Honda’s exclusive two-motor design that doesn’t even use a conventional transmission. (Photo: Honda)

Additionally, Honda has just added a new compact hybrid to its lineup. The stylish 2019 Insight is sized identically to the Civic Sedan that shares its underpinnings and some bodywork, even offering the same accommodating interior roominess and an identical 428-litre trunk with convenient 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks. The new Insight will be Honda’s most affordable hybrid at $27,990 when it arrives this summer, and achieve the best fuel economy amongst Honda hybrids at a claimed 4.6 L/100km city, 5.3 highway and 4.9 combined. 

Honda’s expanding lineup of hybrid-electric cars is a good sign that it’s on the right track, and the Accord Hybrid should put up a good fight against the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid, but this said Honda really needs to electrify its SUV lineup so it can go up against Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid, plus others from competitive brands that are expected to arrive soon. 

Oddly, Honda sells a CR-V hybrid in Europe, but it’s not yet available in North American markets, while similarly Nissan offers a Rogue Hybrid to its U.S. customers, but not here in Canada. 

For now, the new 2018 Accord Hybrid, 2018 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, and 2019 Insight point the Japanese brand in what most consider the right direction. Only time will tell if we receive hybrid versions of the popular compact CR-V and mid-size Pilot as SUV alternatives to Toyota’s offerings.

So what does it feel like to drive the world’s fastest front-wheel drive production car? Fabulous!  There isn’t a sport compact fan that doesn’t already know about the new Honda Civic Type R’s…

2018 Honda Civic Type R Road Test

2018 Honda Civic Type R
Menacing looking and a dictator on the track, this 2018 Honda Civic Type R earned a place in our hearts as the world’s ultimate front-driver. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

So what does it feel like to drive the world’s fastest front-wheel drive production car? Fabulous! 

There isn’t a sport compact fan that doesn’t already know about the new Honda Civic Type R’s many achievements, its class lap record around the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife road course the stuff of modern-day legend, a feat just recently built upon by doing the same at the equally revered Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. 

All of this sounds impressive, although such news is usually dampened by the reality that most race-ready sport models are hardly easy to live with. Not so with the Civic Type R, however. It’s as easy to drive around town or on the highway as a regular Civic, while it’s plenty comfortable, and accommodative of four adults plus loads of gear under its utile hatchback. Who could possibly find fault with that? 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
Nothing looks quite like the Type R this side of a big-winged Lamborghini. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I suppose those who want a fast-paced automatic drivetrain won’t be too happy to learn the Type R can only be had with a six-speed manual. It’s a fine gearbox, which is nothing new for Honda. The Japanese brand’s Civic Si is legendary for short-throw shift quality amongst other attributes, while this Type R shifter is even capable of rev-matched control, but the Type R’s manual-only status will definitely limit sales. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
We lovingly nicknamed this all-black Type R “Cockroach” during our test week. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Still, this is hardly a problem. Honda seems to be selling as many Civic Type Rs as it’s willing to build in its Swindon, England assembly plant. And you thought I was going to say Suzuka, but oddly enough Honda no longer builds its best-selling model in any of its Japanese factories, instead relying on its new Prachinburi, Thailand plant for Japanese Civic consumption, while its Alliston, Ontario and Greensburg, Indiana facilities are too busy building less specialized, higher volume Civics and CR-Vs for the North American markets (there’s no Civic production in Mexico). Honda builds regular Civics, plus its CR-V and Jazz (Fit) in Swindon as well, but the British factory has a long history of producing the Civic Type R too, so it only made sense to keep a good thing going. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
Is this the tallest wing currently available on a production car? It just might be. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, we’ve never seen any of these older Type R models on Canadian shores, at least outside of grey market examples shipped here by individual enthusiasts. The first Type R, based on the 1997–2000 sixth-generation Civic hatch, actually hailed from Suzuka, with Swindon taking over production for the second 2001–2006 version based on the seventh-gen hatchback, which was actually available to us in the somewhat detuned Civic SiR, also built in England. Next up was the 2006–2011 model based on the eighth-gen four-door sedan, this one made in the UK as well as Suzuka, but soon after the Euro-spec 2007 FN2 hatch (also sold in Australia and Singapore) became the basis for the European Type R, and therefore Swindon was the sole producer, while the four-door Type R remained Japan-sourced until 2010 when Suzuka stopped building the Civic. Now, as already mentioned, this fourth-generation Civic Type R, based on the 10th-gen Civic, sits on the new five-door hatchback design, and due to that is one of the most intriguing performance car designs available today. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
Beauty is in the purposefully aerodynamic details. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

By intriguing, I don’t necessarily mean attractive. The full LED headlights are dazzling, classic circular fog lamps a nice touch, unique air intake-infused aluminum hood ultra light and really nice, loads of aero add-ons impressive, and three centre-mounted chromed exhaust pipes kind of cool, but beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder with this car. 

The Type R seems to pull design inspiration from the most radical of big-winged Lamborghinis, let alone anything from the sport compact arena. I should rephrase that last point to say “production” sport compact, being that plenty of modified hot hatches get stuffed to the gills with aftermarket components capable of making this stock Type R seem subdued. Still, for a race on Sunday, drive to work on Monday capable super hatch, the Type R is no wallflower. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
Like all Civics, the Type R gets standard LED headlamps. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I hope fans of the car’s styling and the nice folks on Honda’s press relations team won’t be offended that the nickname I gave this Crystal Black Pearl painted example was “Cockroach”, as it looks more like that nasty little beetle than anything else I could think of. Its fiery little 2.0-litre turbocharged engine spits like a roach too, and no doubt it’s as bulletproof reliable as a cockroach is indestructible—anyone who’s home has been infested with these hardy little critters will know exactly what I’m talking about. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
These standard 20-inch alloys, wrapped in low-profile performance rubber, frame beefy Brembo brakes with hot red calipers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

To my eyes, the Civic Type R isn’t pretty, but everything about its applied bodywork is functional, so it gets big marks for purposeful aerodynamics. I’ve seen some in my area in Championship White, and I must say it looks a lot less insect-like, while Rallye Red would probably have similar effect, but so far I haven’t seen its third colour in the wild. 

While any fan worth his or her (or zir) salt will likely be able to rattle off the Type R’s specifications faster than I can, I’ll nevertheless repeat them here for the few uninitiated still thinking their Golf GTI is fast for a front driver. It isn’t (unless it’s a Clubsport S). Don’t get me wrong, as I love the GTI, but the Golf R isn’t even as quick or as nimble as this Type R. The numbers speak volumes, with the Type R’s 2.0-litre turbo good for 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and the Golf R’s only capable of 292 and 280 respectively. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
The level of detail Honda has engineered into the Type R to improve aerodynamics is impressive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That’s an 11 horsepower and 15 lb-ft advantage to Honda, which results in 5.1 seconds to 100km/h (4.9 sec to 60 mph) compared to 5.4 (5.2), 13.5 to 160 km/h (11.5 to 100 mph) instead of 15 (13), the quarter mile eclipsed in 13.5 seconds compared to 13.7, quarter mile speeds at 174 km/h (108 mph) over 166 (103), and top speeds set at 270 km/h (168 mph) compared 250 km/h (155 mph)—note, I gathered these numbers from a variety of independent albeit credible test results and then averaged them out. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
That’s one insanely tall wing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As for race track dominance (a more exact science), the Type R and Golf R managed the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7:43.08 and 8:14.00 minutes respectively (that’s a sizeable gap), Tsukuba (Japan) in 1:06.48 and 1:07.83 (closer), the Contidrom (Germany) in 1:36.70 and 1:37.38, Sachsenring (Germany) in 1:41.16 and 1:41.73, and Llandowin (Wales) in 0:46.50 and 0:49.00. To be fair, the Golf R shows up well on the track, proven on the Hockenheim Short (Germany) circuit that saw the VW out-lapping the Honda with a time of 1:14.50 to 1:15.70. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
If you see this “R” on the backside of a Honda Civic Hatchback, don’t bother trying to race it or you’ll end up looking foolish. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

You might wonder why I chose to compare the Civic Type R to a Golf R, being that the latter car benefits from an available dual-clutch automatic and standard all-wheel drive, but the once mighty Mazdaspeed3 is no more, and I happen to like the Golf R a lot more than most other hyper-tuned sport compacts due to its sleeper styling and better than average interior. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
No shortage of tailpipes, the Type R powertrain needs all the exhaust flow it can get. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of note, current competitive sport compacts include the truly legendary Subaru WRX STI, and the soon to be unavailable Ford Focus RS (due to Ford North America’s anti-car “focus”), the former putting 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque down to all four wheels via a six-speed manual or sport-tuned CVT f¬or zero to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, and the latter pushing a staggering 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque through all four wheels via a six-speed manual, resulting in zero to 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds. Strangely, however, the fastest Nürburgring Nordschleife time from a Focus RS is just 8:06.29, significantly slower than the Civic Type R. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
Expect the Civic’s usual high quality cabin, with a lot more racy red sport trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’m not about to say anything negative about any of the cars mentioned so far, or my previous favourite Mitsubishi Evo X MR, as they’re all beyond brilliant. If you’ve ever spent time at the wheel of any one of these super compacts you’ll likely nod in agreement while your mouth turns up at each end in fond memory. These are the modern-day equivalents of yesteryears muscle cars, but with levels of near otherworldly manoeuvrability such straight-line masters could never hope to attain. Every car I’ve mentioned in this review is worthy of a driving enthusiast’s appreciation, but Honda has done something very special in attaining such sensational performance from a front driver. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
Enough red for you? Honda overdid it with this sporty colour theme, but the driving position is superb. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’m not going to say another word about style, and won’t even harp one bit about the overzealous use of red highlights inside (it’s the automotive equivalent of a pre-teen girl discovering makeup for the first time—bright red lipstick, caked-on rouge and vamp eye-shadow), because all of that is immediately forgotten when the hyperactive turbo-four gurgles to life and the precision six-speed slots into first. The notchy gearbox is tight yet light, the clutch action easy perfection, and the lack of torque steer at full throttle shocking. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
All red all the time, the primary gauge cluster is as good as in the regular Civic, minus its more creative use of multiple colours. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Shocking too is the immediate response to throttle input, the high-revving four spinning up to its 7,000 rpm redline so quickly you’ll need to have quick arm/hand reflexes to get from the 3 o’clock position on the steering wheel to the shift lever and back in time to maximize control ahead of the next shift. 

The shift knob is cold aluminum, hardly the most welcoming material for a wintry Canadian morning. In fact, I recommend a set of red leather racing gloves with white H’s sewn on top for just such days (Honda Canada should include these with every Type R delivery), the Type R (when properly shod) being a superb choice for getting sideways on a slippery road or track while set to “Race” mode. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
These textured aluminum pedals are grippy and lightweight. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Honda includes multiple driving modes in the Type R, from default to Comfort at one end, and Sport to +R (Race) at the other, this being one of only two Civic models without an Econ mode—the other being the Si. I’m ok with that, being that it’s pretty fuel efficient for such a formidable sports car, its official Transport Canada claimed rating at 10.6 L/100km city, 8.3 highway and 9.6 combined. Of course, compared to the 8.0 city, 6.2 highway and 7.2 combined rating from the same Civic Hatchback model with a 1.5-litre turbo and manual transmission the Type R is thirsty, but it’s a bit cheaper to use than the Golf R M6 that’s rated at 11.1, 8.1 and 9.8 respectively, the Focus RS with estimated fuel usage of 12.2, 9.0 and 10.8, or the WRX STI that guzzles down 14.1, 10.5 and 12.5. Certainly fuel economy isn’t the first priority in this class, but with regular hovering between $1.50 and $1.58 per litre in my town, and premium unleaded a helluvalot higher, the Civic Type R’s best-in-manual-class fuel economy is something to consider. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
More red, the infotainment system’s background colour takes on the racy theme as well. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I could go on at length telling you about the Type R’s fabulous handling, just how addictive it is to repeatedly lay into the throttle, flick through the gears, stomp on the big 350/305-mm Brembos and experience the big 245/30ZR20 Continental SportContact 6 performance tires bite into tarmac, etcetera, but as noted earlier the numbers speak for themselves. What you might find more useful is my opinion on general livability. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
The infotainment system has no shortage of features, my favourite being Honda’s handy LaneWatch blind spot monitor. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

First off, after proximity keyless access lets you inside and an ignition pushbutton gets the engine rumbling in the background, the Type R’s outrageously bolstered microfibre sport seats are amazingly comfortable, providing your backside fits in, as they wrap right around to hold you in place during hard cornering. I found them ideal, and while the six-way manual driver’s seat isn’t as adjustable as a Civic Touring’s powered setup, it’s so well designed, cupping my lower back in just the right position for optimal comfort and support, that I could drive it all day without issue. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
A superb Garmin-sourced navigation system comes standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

What’s more, the black and red, flat-bottom sport steering wheel, while a bit gaudy, provides excellent telescopic reach, which allowed me to set up my driving position for perfect control of wheel and pedals, the latter finished with a nice set of grippy textured aluminum pads. 

The mostly regular Civic gauges are upgraded with angry red background lighting all the time, a change from the regular Civic’s pacifying aqua blue, unless in Sport mode when they go red as well. A well-stocked 7.0-inch colour TFT centre meter display provides quick-access info from the tips of your thumbs via illuminated steering wheel controls, which is nothing new but nicely done. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
A device charging pad also comes standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Red also gets used for the centre-mounted infotainment touchscreen’s backing colour. It’s a bit much, and merely smearing everything with red doesn’t show a lot of creativity, but the primary gauge cluster and infotainment interface are superbly designed and filled with useful features like an excellent multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, Honda’s awesome LaneWatch blind spot display that projects a live image from a right-side rear-facing camera onto the monitor when flicking the right turn signal, highly accurate Garmin-based navigation with excellent mapping, HD Digital Traffic, 3D renderings of terrain and buildings, predictive local search, a lane guidance split-screen for road signs and exits, and simplified voice recognition, plus climate controls supported by a separate dual-zone auto HVAC interface just below, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and HondaLink smartphone connectivity, a great sounding 542-watt audio system with 12 speakers plus HD and satellite radio, Siri Eyes Free, SMS text message and email reading capability, two USB ports, Wi-Fi tethering, car settings, apps, and more. Also worth mentioning, a wireless charging pad sits at the base of the centre stack. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
The aluminum shift knob can get very cold in winter. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The microfibre seats are joined by equally plush microfibre door panels front and rear, these with red stitching of course, plus carbon-fibre-look inlays cross each door and the instrument panel, adding to the performance-first design. Overall Civic quality is superb no matter the trim, so expect the best when climbing inside a Type R, but I was surprised that vibration from the engine spinning at such high revs caused a buzzing sound within the left side of the dash. Still, I could hardly have cared. The Type R is really about the drive, not refinement. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
Fabulous race seats are ultimately comfortable and supportive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On that note, I’ll quickly mention that two rear passengers will be well cared for in a comfortable albeit not so fancy set of seats, Honda having eliminating the Civic Hatchback’s usual middle position and folding armrest for a fixed centre console with two cupholders and a tray. The cupholders are fairly deep and quite useful, but depending on who’s behind the wheel I’d hold onto those drinks just the same. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
Rear passenger roominess is good, but take note you can only seat two in back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As for storage, anyone familiar with the Civic Hatchback’s cavernous cargo compartment will be happy that nothing changes in its transformation to Type R, its measurements still 728 litres (25.7 cu-ft) with the seatbacks upright and 1,308 litres (46.2 cu-ft) when they’re folded flat. The 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks remain, while Honda once again fills the compartment below the floor with a styrofoam storage unit partially filled with a tire repair kit. My favourite cargo feature is the retractable cover up top, which smartly slides sideways when not needed. 

2018 Honda Civic Type R
All this incredible performance, and the Civic Type R is ultimately practical too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Considering the incredible performance, the long list of standard features, and that it comes full equipped in standard trim (although plenty of dealer-added accessories are available), the 2018 Civic Type R’s $41,090 base price is quite reasonable (find the Type R’s pricing and the MSRPs of its competitors at CarCostCanada.com, not to mention rebate info and otherwise hard to get invoice pricing). Of note, it slightly undercuts the Golf R and base WRX STI, but when more fairly compared it’s more than $6,000 less expensive than a similarly outfitted WRX STI Sport-tech, while the Focus RS is almost $18,000 pricier. For that you can get a Civic Type R and a nicely equipped Fit for the kids, your spouse, parents, or anyone else you want to make smile. 

It’s so very Honda to make sure that its track-dominating super compact is also a great value, plenty practical, comfortable and feature filled, and no doubt reliable. Civic Nation is certainly alive and well in Canada.

Considering that Honda was one of the first automakers to arrive on the market with a modern-day hybrid, all the way back in 1999 with the first-generation Insight, it’s had spotty success in its quest…

Honda opts for conventional good taste with new 2019 Insight hybrid design

2019 Honda Insight
The new 2019 Honda Insight has honest good looks on its side, which should give it a leg up as it tries to pull HEV buyers’ attention away from the longstanding best-selling Toyota Prius. (Photo: Honda)

Considering that Honda was one of the first automakers to arrive on the market with a modern-day hybrid, all the way back in 1999 with the first-generation Insight, it’s had spotty success in its quest to electrify the world’s highways and byways. 

The original Insight actually beat the Toyota Prius to North American markets, but Honda’s unusual choice of equipping that early model with just two seats meant that it didn’t meet the needs of most buyers. Its lack of an automatic transmission during the first year didn’t help matters either, both shortcomings allowing the four-door CVT-equipped Prius that arrived here the following year to steal the hybrid show. The rest, as they say, is history. 

2019 Honda Insight
Honda promises the Insight will deliver premium compact sedan refinement and performance. (Photo: Honda)

On that note I won’t go into too much detail about Honda’s unenviable HEV past, all of which was covered in my otherwise positive Accord Hybrid review last year, but despite its hit and (mostly) miss two-decade electrification strategy we’ve all got to give the Japanese brand big points for courage. 

Such steely nerve is especially true of its recent decision to once again dust off the aforementioned Insight nameplate for the upcoming 2019 model. After all, Honda’s Insight not only failed from a commercial standpoint from 1999 to 2006, but also suffered a second unceremonious death after a short-lived attempt at resurrection from 2009 through 2014. Still, the upcoming 2019 Insight looks like a winner. 

2019 Honda Insight
If you think the new Insight’s four-door coupe-like roofline looks familiar, check out a 10th-generation Honda Civic the next time it drives by. (Photo: Honda)

The Insight prototype was introduced at Detroit’s 2018 North American International Auto Show in January, followed by simultaneous introductions of the production version in March at the 2018 New York International Auto Show and 2018 Vancouver International Auto Show, with most pundits giving it two thumbs up for styling. 

“The Honda Insight shows consumers that the efficiency of a hybrid car doesn’t mean sacrificing style, refinement or performance,” said Jean Marc Leclerc, Senior Vice President of Honda Canada Inc. “The Insight is another symbol of a new era in the evolution of Honda electrified vehicles, where customers can have everything they want with no compromises.” 

2019 Honda Insight
The new Insight doesn’t look like a wild and wacky hybrid, but rather a tastefully designed premium sedan. (Photo: Honda)

The Insight doesn’t stray too far away from the new 2018 Accord when it comes to styling, but it shares some design elements with the compact Civic as well, while it’s also sized much closer to Canada’s best-selling car. In fact, the new Insight shares its platform architecture with the current 10th-generation Civic, not to mention many of that car’s hard points like the entire roof section, so all of Honda’s HEV fans who are still patiently waiting for an update of the previous-generation Civic Hybrid can now rejoice—this is it. 

2019 Honda Insight
Honda promises soft-touch premium materials and a high-tech albeit user-friendly experience. (Photo: Honda)

In a press release that came out as part of its Vancouver launch, Honda called the new Insight a “premium compact sedan,” and while the term premium is normally reserved for luxury branded models like Acura’s ILX, such could just as easily be said for the current Civic in top-line Touring trim. Still, Honda promises “premium cabin appointments” such as “a soft-touch instrument panel with real stitching, ergonomically sculpted seats,” and more. 

Honda also touts a number of premium-level Insight engineering enhancements such as better ride quality, a quieter cabin, and, of course, gains in efficiency. 

2019 Honda Insight
This configurable colour TFT instrument cluster comes standard across the entire Insight line. (Photo: Honda)

Aiding overall lightness, the Insight’s Advance Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure gets an exclusive aluminum hood, while extra sound insulation in the engine bay, behind the front firewall, inside the fenders, and under the front and rear floor improves noise, vibration and harshness levels. 

Like the Civic, the new Insight benefits from a fully-independent suspension system with Macpherson struts up front and a multi-link design in the rear, improving ride quality and control during performance driving or accidence avoidance, while the top-tier Insight Touring will benefit from liquid-sealing compliance bushings front and back to further refine the ride. 

2019 Honda Insight
Both Insight trims come standard with an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and much more. (Photo: Honda)

The Insight also utilizes the Civic’s variable-ratio dual-pinion electric power steering system, causing less drag on the powertrain than hydraulic designs, yet still providing direct response to input to satisfy performance fans. 

Unlike the Civic, the new Insight will adapt regenerative braking to a mechanical (friction) electro-servo braking system, harnessing some of the kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost, and repurposing it to the ancillary electrical system. 

2019 Honda Insight
Honda includes its pushbutton gear selector as standard equipment. (Photo: Honda)

The new Insight is powered by Honda’s third-generation two-motor hybrid system, consisting of a 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle internal combustion engine (ICE), an electric propulsion motor, plus a 60-cell lithium-ion battery pack, resulting in 151 net horsepower and 197 lb-ft of electric motor torque. 

Honda says the Insight mostly operates like a regular series hybrid, which means that its gasoline-powered ICE connects to the generator motor to produce electricity that’s not only directly used to energize the electric propulsion motor, but also stored in the battery pack, after which such stored energy can be used as needed to assist the ICE for powering the wheels. Additionally, the Insight is capable of driving on 100-percent electric power for short distances at slow speeds. 

2019 Honda Insight
Expect a higher level of premium finishing inside the Insight, including soft-touch surfaces with real stitching. (Photo: Honda)

While nothing said so far is particularly new or unique, the Insight also features steering wheel-mounted paddle shifter-style deceleration selectors that let you choose among three levels of regenerative braking performance, depending on driving conditions, while the new model also gets three selectable driving modes, including normal hybrid mode that defaults upon startup, plus “ECON” and “SPORT” modes that require the press of a console-mounted button. There’s also an available “EV” mode button that lets you to drive about 1.5 km (1 mile) at low speeds under electric-only power. This wide variety of settings allows the ability to personalize a driver’s experience to maximize efficiency or performance. 

2019 Honda Insight
Top-line Touring trim includes perforated leather upholstery, and much more. (Photo: Honda)

On that note, Honda promises the Insight will deliver the “best power-to-weight ratio in its class,” this partially due to its aforementioned lightweight body structure. 

Interestingly, while some competitors place a transmission between the ICE/electric propulsion motor and the drive wheels in order to regulate speed, Honda’s two-motor hybrid system doesn’t require one, but instead the drive axles are powered directly from the electric propulsion motor. At higher speeds the engine and drive axles are connected by a lock-up clutch, which Honda says is most efficient during highway and freeway operation. Also notable, Honda incorporates its unique pushbutton gear selector for getting underway. 

2019 Honda Insight
The Insight gets the same 2,700-mm wheelbase as the Civic, so rear seat roominess should be excellent for the class. (Photo: Honda)

Of course, Transport Canada hasn’t provided any official fuel economy estimates yet, and neither has the U.S. EPA, but Toyota’s U.S. division is claiming mileage of “up to 55 mpg” in the city and “50 mpg or better” combined, which when converted to metric equals 4.3 L/100km city and 4.7 or better combined. As expected these are similar fuel economy numbers to official 2018 Prius ratings, so the new Insight is in good company. 

Being that Honda is now a leader in advanced driver assistance systems and active safety, the new Insight will come standard with a full suite of Honda Sensing equipment, including forward collision warning, autonomous collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, and traffic sign recognition. For this reason and more, Honda expects the Insight will achieve best-possible safety ratings from the IIHS, NHTSA, and Euro NCAP. 

2019 Honda Insight
Just like the Civic Sedan, the new Insight can stow 427 litres of cargo in its sizeable trunk, plus it also benefits from 60/40 split rear seatbacks. (Photo: Honda)

Standard features in mind, the Canadian-spec Insight will be available in two trims dubbed Hybrid and Touring, with the former including full LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lamps, LED taillights, 17-inch alloys, pushbutton ignition, a 7.0-inch TFT digital primary instrument panel, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Honda’s exclusive LaneWatch Blind Spot Display that projects a rearward image of the blindspot onto the centre touchscreen when selecting the right-side turn signal, dual-zone automatic climate control, heatable front seats, eight-speaker audio, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, and more. 

Additionally, the top-line Insight Touring will include rain-sensing wipers, perforated leather seating, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, heatable rear seats, navigation with detailed mapping, 4G LTE Wi-Fi with mobile hotspot capability and Wi-Fi-enabled over-the-air system updates, next-generation HondaLink subscription services, 10-speaker premium audio, a HomeLink garage door opener, a powered moonroof, and more.

2019 Honda Insight
The Insight’s 1.5L four-cylinder and two-motor hybrid combination results in a spirited 151 hp and 197 lb-ft of torque, while its fuel economy should be similar to the current Toyota Prius. (Photo: Honda)

While the new Insight appears long, lean and sleek like a four-door coupe, Honda says the rear seating area is generous with “best-in-class rear legroom of 949 mm” thanks in part to a considerable 2,700-mm (106.3-inch) wheelbase, which incidentally is identical to its Civic Sedan donor platform. Likewise its wide track should result in good side-to-side roominess, just like the Civic, making the new Insight comfortably and easy to live with. 

On this note, Honda places the Insight’s lithium-ion hybrid battery pack below the rear seats, which still allows for standard 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks to increase its passenger/cargo flexibility, while trunk space behind those rear seats measures the same sizeable 427 litres (15.1 cubic feet) as the conventionally powered Civic Sedan. 

2019 Honda Insight
The sharp looking 2019 Honda Insight will be available this summer. (Photo: Honda)

As would make sense, the new Insight is being manufactured next to the Civic, as well as the CR-V, at American Honda’s assembly plant in Greensburg, Indiana, which will no doubt please President Donald J. Trump. Improving its chance of U.S. success yet further, its hybrid battery unit is made in the automaker’s Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio, while the ICE gets produced in Honda’s Anna, Ohio engine plant, which also builds the engine for the Ohio-made 2018 Accord Hybrid. 

The new 2019 Insight will arrive at Canadian retailers this summer, at which point it will become the most affordable HEV amongst Honda’s three-strong electrified lineup that currently includes the $39,900 mid-size 2018 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid and more recently launched $33,090 2018 Accord Hybrid. Expect pricing to start below the Accord Hybrid.