The sportiest Civic so far, if you don’t count the totally ballistic Type R.
The styling is even more in your face than the sedan, especially the view from the rear with those huge tail lights.
I’d love to know if the guy that signed off on this design was influenced in any way by the Swedes (you know who I’m talking about) who pioneered the use of overly large, elaborately shaped tail lights.
The RS model cranks it up another notch with the addition of a sports body kit, larger wheels and low profile rubber.
While the combined effect is certainly eye-catching, some might even say attractive – it’s not what we’d call describe as beautiful – at least not in the classical sense.
Note that although the hatch configuration adds a degree of practicality to the equation, don’t be fooled into thinking it has more to offer than the sedan – because the sedan is actually more spacious and has a larger boot – it’s a real step up in terms of size.
What’s it cost?
Civic now comes in five grades.
Hatch and sedan are the same price, starting from $22,390 for the entry VTi.
The VTI-S is one step up at $24,490 and gets some nice extras such as 16-inch alloys, LED repeaters in the mirrors, halogen fog lights as well as front and rear park sensors.
There’s also keyless entry, push button start and it locks itself when you walk away from the car.
A leather-wrapped steering wheel and Lanewatch round off the package.
Lanewatch as the name suggests uses a camera embedded in the passenger side mirror to provide a view of any traffic in your blind spot.
RS at $32,290 really lays it on with leather, heated front seats, LED fog and headlights, a sunroof, drilled alloy sports pedals, cool centre-mounted twin exhaust and impressive 452-watt premium audio with 12 speakers, including a subwoofer.
Standard features include cloth trim, climate air, cruise control, electric parking brake, rear view camera, Eco Assist and ECON Mode – plus a 7 in touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and 8-speaker audio.
The very latest advances in safety like automatic emergency braking however are reserved for the top of the line VTi-LX.
What’s it like to drive?
Depends which model we’re talking about.
VTi and VTi-S are powered by a 1.8-litre naturally aspirated four cylinder engine that develops 104kW of power and 174Nm of torque.
VTi-L, RS and VTi-LX score a 1.5-litre turbocharged job with 127kW and 220Nm of torque.
Both are hooked up to a CVT style auto with all that entails.
We drove the VTi-S sedan and later the RS hatch.
The turbocharged engine is clearly the choice, if you can afford the extra $3000 or so, but there is nothing shabby about the way the 1.8 performs.
Also, the extra power of the turbo comes at a penalty, because our test vehicle exhibited quite a bit of turbo lag – that’s the difference in time between pushing the accelerator and the car responding.
The CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission is designed to optimise the balance between power and fuel economy which it does by continuously altering the drive ratio.
It doesn’t have set gears like a standard automatic, at least in the lower grades.
Turbo models gain change paddles and simulated gears or steps as they refer to them, giving the driver greater control.
Changing gears manually also helps to hide the lag.
Tech heads will love the fact the instrument cluster changes colour letting you know whether you’re driving economically, or being a bad boy and putting the boot in.
Both hatch and sedan sit low, with a longish wheelbase and widely spaced wheels that give the car a real “planted”, secure feel on the road.
The addition of Agile Handling Assist, a form of torque vectoring, builds on this feel by selectively using the brakes to improve initial turn-in and overall cornering ability.
By applying the brakes to the inside wheels it helps the car to turn and reduces any tendency towards understeer.