Determined to build a credible performance image for the next Civic, Honda is tearing up autos shows-first Chicago and now Geneva-with sporty Civic concepts. The automaker will offer the next-gen Civic with diesel or gas engines, with the new 2.2-liter i-CTDi diesel delivering its peak 138 hp at 4000 rpm and its 250 lb-ft at just 2000.
On the Papenburg high-speed test oval in Germany, the 2.2 i-CTDi engine set no fewer than 19 Production Car Class speed records in two Accords, including an average speed of 130.3 mph over a 24-hour period. Then, on the way home, the same two cars logged an astounding 92 mpg over a 675-mile route of mixed highway and city driving.
Still think of diesel as the domain of interstate truckers and the unlucky owners of those coughing Mercedes sedans? Think again. Diesel technology has advanced rapidly as new emissions and fuel efficiency standards loom ahead. The newest generation of diesel engines use very high injection pressures-25,000 to 30,000 psi-to completely atomize the fuel charge as it's delivered. More sophisticated engine management also controls fuel delivery in several small bursts rather than one large spit, resulting in a better burn, more power, better mileage and practically no smoke.
Additionally, particulate filters trap soot on the way out (although modern sulfur-free diesel fuel reduces the need); and the newest generation of filters, although potentially expensive, regenerate their filtering ability by burning off trapped soot particles.
Noise and vibration are two other longstanding complaints about diesel engines, but phased injection and a second balancing shaft promises to substantially reduce these annoyances. We expect these technologies to pave the way for a new generation of advanced diesel engines in North America, where we'll start to see low-sulfur fuel in 2006.
Wider and lower than the current Civic, the Euro Civic is designed to set new standards in Europe's demanding C-segment. The Civic is Honda's best-selling model, with more than 16 million produced worldwide, and the automaker has used it as a carrier for new technology in the past. We expect the next gen to be no exception.