Watching the DTECtives
The Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC might just be the Honda diesel you've been waiting years and years for. With 120PS under its belt it's got a bit about it, but will return 78.5mpg and 94g/km – better than the company's Insight hybrid in other words.
Prior to 2002, Honda didn't have a diesel engine on its books. It had believed that the VTEC variable valve timing technology it used on its petrol engines was a better solution and that the public would eventually come round to that view given a bit of time. In 2002, it introduced a1.7-litre Isuzu-GM engine that was so bad it seemed as if they'd chosen it merely to make their petrol engines look good.
This situation wasn't to last and in 2004 we saw the Honda N-engine introduced. This is the 2.2-litre diesel you're probably familiar with. It had an aluminium block to keep weight down, common-rail direct injection and a variable geometry turbocharger. In 2004 it was a very good engine. In 2011 it was state of the ark.
Time for a rethink. What we have instead is a new generation of Honda diesels and this time it feels as if the Japanese brand has given the designs its full attention. Here we take a look at the 1.6 i-DTEC unit in the ninth-generation Civic.
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Just as the 2.2-litre engine has been thoroughly revised, this 1.6-litre diesel requires some fresh perspectives. It's been designed to offer high performance and low emissions and goes about its job in a very Honda way.
For a start, it's extremely small and light for a diesel lump, weighing in at fully 47kg less than the 2.2-litre engine.
The engine's built in Swindon and designed for the European market, where one will roll of a specially-developed line every 138 seconds. This ninth-gen Civic features a mix of new and carry-over tech from the last car.
The rear end is suspended by a simple yet space-efficient torsion beam, Honda reasoning that if it could make the feisty Type-R work, and work well, with a torsion beam rear, then there was clearly nothing wrong with the fundamental layout. It uses clever fluid-filled compliance bushes to improve overall ride and handling.
A lot of resource has been poured into improving ride and refinement on this car, with particular emphasis placed on reducing wind noise and improving the cabin noise insulation, something that is key with a small but high-power diesel engine.
A six-speed manual gearbox is the default transmission pick.