What is it?
You’re probably wondering why we’re reviewing the Honda Civic sedan when the hatch has just been released.
They’re the same price and mechanically identical, but for mine the sedan is the pick – it’s better looking, is bigger inside and has a larger boot.
Either way, the money is going to the same place so Honda will be happy.
Honda reckons this is the sportiest Civic ever and a benchmark for the small car segment, in terms of space, fuel efficiency, safety features, interior quality and driving performance.
It’s certainly a practical alternative in a world fixated on SUVs.
What’s it cost?
Civic now comes in five grades.
Prices start from $22,390 for the VTi.
The VTI-S is one step up at $24,490 and gets some nice extras like 16-inch alloys, LED repeaters in the mirrors, halogen fog lights as well as front and rear park sensors.
There’s also keyless entry and 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 uses a camera embedded in the passenger side mirror to provide a view of any traffic in your blind spot.
The very latest safety aids however like automatic emergency braking are reserved for more expensive models.
Standard features include cloth trim, climate air, cruise control, electric parking brake, rear view camera, Eco Assist and ECON Mode – plus a 7 inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and 8-speaker audio.
What’s it like to drive?
But before moving off make sure to plug anything necessary into the USB ports.
They’re buried deep behind the centre console and difficult to access on the go.
We say “they” because there’s supposed to be two of them – but we could only locate one USB outlet apart from a totally useless HDMI port.
The 1.8-litre four cylinder petrol engine with 104kW and 174Nm of torque is more than up to the job.
There’s the CVT to contend with of course and you can’t change gears manually, but once you get your head around that it’s all good.
Some passengers felt the car struggled, but they were misinterpreting the zoomy effect of the CVT as it accelerated as a lack of power.
Having said that throttle response is sluggish in Eco mode, especially when resuming cruise control which can take forever.
The dash lights change colour to tell whether you’re being good and driving economically, or not so good and putting in the boot.
Sitting low with a long wheelbase and widely spaced wheels the car sits securely on the road with a real planted feel.
This secure feeling is aided by Agile Handling Assist, a form of torque vectoring that uses the brakes selectively to improve initial turn-in and overall cornering ability.
By applying the brakes to the inside wheels in corners it helps the car turn and reduces any tendency to understeer – the danger of ploughing straight through the corner if you’re going too fast.
Around town performance is largely unremarkable, apart from some occasional “buck” from the transmission – but cabin noise ramps up quickly on coarse chip bitumen.
Out in the sticks it puts away the kilometres with consummate ease, using little fuel and dealing confidently with unexpected dips and bends – with sharp, accurate steering.
Turning to Android Auto for navigation tends to take command of the audio system, shutting out other options.
But we surprised and pleased to see turn instructions with arrows repeated in the centre dash display.
Those instructions were often confusing but that’s Google’s fault – not Honda’s.
Rated at 6.4L/100km we were getting a very creditable 6.8 after 1200km of mixed driving.
The hatch by the way is 28kg heavier and the boot in the sedan is 20 per cent larger, at 519 versus 414 litres – with rear seats that flip forward.
What we like?
- Bigger than rivals
- Hugs the road
- Laps up the kilometres
- Economical to run
- Roomy interior
- Large boot
What we don’t?
- No satnav
- Android Auto hit and miss
- Start button too bright at night
- Sluggish throttle response in Eco mode
- USB ports difficult to access
- Low ride height could be an issue for older drivers
- Could bump your noggin on plunging rear roof line
- Manual headlights a pain in the butt
- 3 year warranty doesn’t cut it anymore
What are the alternatives?
Kia Cerato 2.0 Sport, from $24,790
Underrated car. Looks good and offers plenty of value.
Mazda3 2.0 Maxx, priced from $22,890
Sets the standard in terms of active safety with auto braking.
Toyota Corolla 1.8 SX sedan, from $23,820
Best selling car in the world, what more can we say?
Deal or no deal?
Big thumbs up. Practical all rounder and a lot of car for the money. About the only thing missing from the VTi-S is satnav but CarPlay and Android Auto fill this void – if you don’t mind using the data from your phone.