New Honda Civic RS hatch combines sharp styling, impressive space and comfort mixed with commendable refinement
What is it?
Honda has just added a new Civic hatch range to its 10th generation Civic family. The 10th generation Civic is virtually new from the ground up, with fresh engines, more aggressive styling and an engaging driving experience for which Honda was previously famed.
What’s it cost?
The Honda Civic hatch range starts with Honda Civic VTi which is priced from $22,390 and then tops out with the flagship – we’re discounting the Civic Type R which is priced at around $50k – Civic VTi-LX which has a recommended sticker price of $33,590. All models are fitted with a continuously variable transmission mated to a 1.5 litre turbocharged and intercooled petrol engine.
We sampled the Civic RS hatch which is priced from $32,290 plus government charges and is theoretically the baby brother to the Type R. Theoretically. The Civic RS can be identified by way of its centrally mounted exhausts, that large rear spoiler, a mild body kit and sporty alloy wheels.
There are also LED head and tail lamps, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and a clever side camera – more on this later – leather trim with three step heating for the front chairs, dual zone climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio and an electric sunshine roof.
There’s no sat nav though, but this shouldn’t be an issue if you own an Apple or Android device as they have their own navigation programs, which will display on the car’s touchscreen infotainment system.
What’s it go like?
The Civic is powered by Honda’s all-new 1.5 litre turbocharged and intercooled petrol engine that produces 127kW @ 5500rpm and 220Nm @ 1700-5500rpm. On paper, these figures are impressive, with a hugely broad power band and with a weight of around 1300kg, the Civic looks to be strong if not slightly spicy performer.
In the real world, however, things don’t quite translate. Don’t get us wrong, the Civic RS hatch is definitely not slow, sluggish or underwhelming, it’s just that it seems that the CVT seems to hold the engine back, and we felt that a conventional automatic would be a better match. On the plus side, the CVT can be over ridden with the flappy paddles on the back of the steering wheel.
Still, although the Civic felt a little slow off the line, rolling acceleration was strong, and the engine remained refined and composed at all times, although it did sound a little dreary.
Honda quotes an official combined fuel consumption figure of 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres, but we averaged around 8.0 litres.
On the road, the Civic RS hatch handles and rides commendably. Turn into corners is nice and crisp, and the suspension is always compliant, shrugging off any road imperfections.
That aggressive rear spoiler stretches across the rear window, which can impede visibility when reversing – there is a camera, but still – and when changing lanes.
Now, that clever camera in the left wing mirror. This is actually quite a good idea. Flick the left indicator on and the camera in the left mirror activates, projecting images of what’s immediately left of the car onto the infotainment screen. In turn, this makes lane changing and negotiating intersections much safe, along with preventing – or at the very least reducing – the risk of scraping the wheels on kerbs whilst parking.
If you want to have the system running at all times when the car is moving in a forward direction, you can, just simoly push the button at the end of the indicator stalk.
What’s it like inside?
Clean, simple, elegant with a hint of eccentricity is the best way to describe the Civic RS’ interior. That no-nonsense yet attractive dash is simple to negotiate, with the centre stack being gently angled towards the driver.
The instrument cluster is space age, but very easy to read especially with those large digital numbers. Drivers can also toggle through a number of the car’s entertainment and essential functions simply but toggling a button on the steering wheel.
The Civic RS stereo is supremely powerful too, and kept us more than amused in painful Melbourne peak hour traffic.
While everything is clearly marked and logically laid out, Honda’s infotainment system can be tricky to navigate at first and we found a number of functions, such as the image gallery to be a little redundant.
Another key complaint of the cabin is the lack of a securely closed centre console. Instead, what you get is a cubby hole between the front seats and a sliding armrest which partially covers the contents. It’s a little unusual isn’t as practical as a traditional centre console.
Some of the interior plastics are cheap, hard and unpleasant to the touch, too. There’s nothing wrong with the leather clothing the seats, though. And in fact, the seats are a highlight. The front seats are on the small side but the soft but supportive and are probably some of the best we’ve tested.
It’s a similar story at the back, with the rear bench offering great padding and under thigh support. All passengers have an abundance of head, leg and shoulder room, and despite my six-foot odd stature and the Civic’s sloping roofline. The Civic’s accommodating nature may appeal to young families, who might find the small hatch a more practical and economical to a larger car.
The boot is on the smallish side at 330 litres.
What we like:
- Cleverly executed interior
What we don’t:
- CVT is a hindrance and limits performance
- Infotainment system can be annoying
- Silly centre console
- Interior fit and finish can leave a little to be desired
Sale or no sale?
If you’re looking for a hatchback that is polite as pie, has a comfortable and cavernous interior along with the sporty flavour, the Civic RS hatch could be for you.