What is it?
Few cars attract as much comment as Honda’s Civic RS.
For our money the sedan is a better looker than the hatch, particularly in eye-catching burnt orange, with black trim and stylish dark-coloured wheels.
To be honest we weren’t big fans of the outlandish styling to start with, but it grows on you — as does the turbocharged performance, excellent ergonomics and low fuel consumption.
What’s it cost?
Whether you fancy sedan or hatch, you’ll be pleased to learn they’re priced the same.
The range kicks off with the VTi at $23,390 or VTi-S at $24,590, both with a 1.8-litre engine.
Then there’s the turbocharged 1.5-ltre VTi-L and RS, priced from $27,990 and $31,990 respectively — and top of the range VTi-LX from $33,690.
There’s also the boy racer Civic Type-R with its large rear wing, but it’s considerably more expensive at $51,990 — and available only as a hatch.
RS is trimmed in an attractive combination of cloth and leather trim, with red stitching and dual zone climate air.
Standard kit includes auto lights and wipers, but no auto dimming for the rear view mirror, heated front seats with power adjustment for the driver, auto up/down front windows, 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 being able to provide a Wi-Fi hotspot through your phone.
It also comes with a hi-end 542-watt premium audio system with 12 speakers, including two satellite speakers, centre speaker and sub-woofer.
Safety extends to six airbags and Honda’s SENSING system that uses both millimetre 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, activates a camera when the left turn indicator is switched on, showing that side of the car on the touchscreen.
The one thing that is really missing from the equipment list and is a bit of a deal breaker as far as we’re concerned, is satellite navigation.
If you need to find where you’re going, you’re forced to use your phone instead — it’s competitors don’t . . .
What’s it go like?
Low and wide, the Civic hugs the road, generating a secure feel at all times.
The sedan is almost 18cm longer but 18kg lighter than the hatch, and has a 10mm narrower front track.
The hatch rides on 17s, while the sedan sits on 18-inch alloys, with lower profile 235/40 series rubber.
The 1.5-litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine delivers 127kW of power at 5500 revs and 220Nm of torque, the latter between 1700 and 5500 revs.
Interestingly, maximum power and torque arrive at the same optimum point.
The broad spread of torque contributes to the driveability of the car, providing gratifying throttle response at just about any revs.
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.
Small plastic 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, at least some CVTs — but this is one of the better ones.
Although described as a small car, it’s really half a size up with a truly spacious cabin.
The instruments are big and easy to read, controls are well laid out and intuitive to use, with a nice big digital speedo and a steering wheel that feels snug in the hands.
The seats are comfortable and supportive, with plenty of room for four adults — plus a large boot.
Rated at 6.3L/100km, we were getting 6.6 after 350km.
Note too these days Civic comes with a 7-year warranty along with 7-year roadside assistance.
What we like?
- Eye catching
- Larger than it looks
- Spacious and comfortable
- Well equipped apart from lack of satnav
- Relatively low fuel consumption
What we don’t like?
- No satellite navigation
- No speed camera warnings
- No rear air vents
- LaneWatch doesn’t include driver’s side
- USB ports difficult to access behind centre console
- Short service intervals
The bottom line?
Honda has done a great job with the Civic and it will be interesting to see where it takes the car next.
With striking, unique styling and plenty of get up and go, it’s larger inside than it looks with a big boot to match.
In fact, apart from a lack of satellite navigation, it’s a difficult car to fault.
CHECKOUT: Honda Civic: planted and impressive
Honda Civic RS sedan, priced from $31,990