Honda Civic: love at first sight

Riley Riley


What is it?

The sporty RS will be the go to model in the Civic range for many people and for our money the sedan is the better looker.

It’s an eye-catching car, finished in burnt orange, with black trim and stylish dark-coloured wheels.

And it attracts plenty of comment.


What’s it cost?

The good news is the sedan and the hatch cost the same. So whatever your poison may be, it will cost you the same.

Prices start at $23,390 for the 1.8-litre VTi and $24,590 for VTi-S. From here it gains a more powerful, turbocharged 1.5-litre engine, with the VTi-L at $27,990, RS at $31,990 and top of the range VTi-LX at $33,590.

Oh yeah, there’s the hypo Civic Type-R too, available only as a hatch, but it’s $51,990 — and it is a different species altogether.

RS is trimmed in an attractive combination of cloth and leather trim, with red stitching and dual zone temperature controlled air conditioning.

It’s better equipped than we remember, with auto lights and wipers, but no auto dimming for the rear view mirror.

There’s also heated front seats with power adjustment for the driver, auto up/down windows for front occupants, adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, reverse camera with overhead view, front and rear parking sensors, 18 inch alloy wheels, plus the car will automatically lock itself if you walk away with the key.

A 7.0-inch touchscreen system features digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a wi-fi hotspot through your mobile phone.

The RS does not qualify for built-in satellite navigation. Fot this you’re forced to use your phone and as far as we’re concerned it’s a bit of a deal breaker.

At least it could send you over to Kia for a look at the Cerato GT Turbo — which does get satnav and is more powerful to boot.

RS does however qualify for a kick-arse, 542-watt premium audio system with 12 speakers, including two satellite speakers, centre speaker and sub-woofer.

In terms of safety, there’s six airbags and Honda’s SENSING system that uses both millimeter wave radar and a camera to detect hazards.

The system includes Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low Speed Follow (LSF), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS) and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM).

The Blind spot warning system, called LaneWatch, works a little differently to most brands and is engaged when you select the left turn indicator, showing that side of the car on the touchscreen.

We’re not sure why no provision is made for the driver’s side blind spot?


What’s it go like?

The hatch we drove previously conveys an overriding “planted” or secure feel, like it’s glued to the road.

The sedan does not give the same impression and does not handle quite as well, but the difference is nothing to become alarmed about.

Looking at the specifications, the sedan is almost 18cm longer but 18kg lighter, with larger 18 inch wheels, and a 10mm narrower front track.

They’re very minor differences, but seem to have a noticeable effect regardless.

The 1.5-litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine produces 127kW of power at 5500 revs and 220Nm of torque, the latter in a broad range from 1700 to 5500 revs.

It is this broad spread of torque that makes the car so driveable, with plenty of get up and go to respond to just about any situation.

Maximum power and torque arrive at the same optimum point.

The 1.5-ltre engine takes standard unleaded petrol and is paired with a CVT style, continuously variable automatic transmission with power to the front wheels.

Paddle shifters are fitted and, in manual mode, the CVT offers seven steps or simulated gears.

There’s also Sport mode which adds 1500 revs when engaged.

We’re not huge fans of CVT, but we have to admit this is one of the better ones and also one of the least intrusive.

The cabin is an impressive study in functionality.

The instruments and controls are well laid out, big and easy to read, intuitive to use, with a nice big digital speedo, steering wheel that feels snug in the hands, seats that are comfortable and supportive and plenty of room for four adults — plus a large boot.

We were a bit suspect of auto high beam to start with, but it actually works quite well, dipping the lights in a timely fasion when required.

Fuel consumption for this model is rated a little higher than the LX that we drove previously at 6.3L/100km.

We were getting 7.3 after 500km.


What we like?

  • Good looker
  • Larger than rivals
  • Spacious and comfortable
  • Well equipped (apart from lack of satnav)
  • Relatively low fuel consumption


What we don’t like?

  • No rear air vents
  • No satellite navigation
  • Doesn’t handle quite as well as hatch
  • LaneWatch doesn’t include driver’s side
  • USB ports difficult to access behind centre console
  • Short service intervals


The bottom line?

A good looking car with plenty of poke, plenty of room inside and a big boot to match. Apart from the lack of satellite navigation, it is difficult to fault. CarPlay and Android Auto are a poor substitute — just ask anyone who has them.

civicCHECKOUT: Honda Civic: planted and impressive

CHECKOUT: We test drive Honda’s incredible Civic Type R

Honda Civic Sedan RS, priced from $31,990
  • Looks - 8.5/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 8/10

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