Honda Civic Sport hatch review: pretty nifty for 50
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Honda Civic Sport
- Impressive interior
- Great infotainment and audio system
- Zippy wee engine
- CVT lets performance down
- Just one model offered in NZ
- Expensive in its segment
Since 1972, there have been 11 generations of Honda Civic; so this Japanese icon will be celebrating its 50th birthday next year. For its golden anniversary, Honda has promised to deliver the sharpest and most refined Civic yet, with a generous helping of luxury thrown in for good measure.
For the all-new Civic, it’s clear that Honda wanted to bring the aesthetic up to spec with modern trends. This is clear by the sloping roofline that’s similar to that of an SUV crossover. At both ends, the light clusters are significantly sleeker than the last model, and the body lines are hard and angular. The finer details are also quite interesting, with a honeycomb grille between the headlights, and a faux diffuser at the rear.
Honda New Zealand has kept things simple by offering just one Civic model. Simply called the Civic Sport hatch, it gets a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that sends power to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Power and torque sit at 131kW/240Nm. According to Honda, this is the engine that’s going to be used in the upcoming Acura Integra, and we can see why. Equipped with Honda’s VTEC technology, the engine happily revs through the range, and the extra torque added by the turbocharger is noticeable, and even makes some interesting noises.
Despite this fantastic engine bubbling away up front, it’s the CVT unit behind it that’s to blame for somewhat lacklustre performance. Like a lot of modern CVTs, it’s “stepped” to offer a feeling of traditional gearchanges, and drivers can use the paddles to shift, but it doesn’t seem to be fooling anyone. Don’t get me wrong, it still offers a fun and responsive driving experience, but it doesn’t feel as genuine as a DCT-equipped vehicle.
Econ, Normal and Sport represent the three driving modes available, but only the transmission is affected by these, not the suspension. Speaking of ride quality, it was supposedly tuned for American roads, but can still feel a bit stiff over the backroads around these parts.
At the end of the day, the Type R is meant to be the epic performance machine, and this regular Civic is supposed to fill the role of the comfortable, fuel-efficient commuter; it does this well. Honda’s quoted figure of 6.3l/100km is incredibly easy to achieve on the open road, and even while stop-starting in the city, you shouldn’t see much over 8l/100km.
The Civic Sport’s cabin is an impressive offering in the sub-$50k segment, and is a highlight of the car. The nine-inch touchscreen infotainment display is a significant upgrade over the last model, and feels right at home on the flash new dash. This system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and is connected to a stunning 12-speaker Bose audio system. Though the air conditioning vents look strange, it’s an easy system to use, and you simply direct the stick where you’d want the air to go.
The Honda Sensing package means that it’s packed with all the intelligent tech you’d ever need. It includes lane keep assist, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control. These systems work well for the most part, but the forward collision warning seemed a little trigger happy while driving on a residential street with cars parked either side.
Manawatu / Wanganui | Palmerston North
$177.43 p/w $709.72 p/m
Canterbury | Sockburn
$685.64 p/w $2,742.55 p/m
In terms of cross-shopping, you’ve got the Civic’s natural Japan-built rivals to look at in the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3. But with the Toyota starting at $30k and the Mazda at $37k, the Honda seems to be a premium option at $47k. Of these, I’d say that the Mazda is a better match for comfort and luxury, but with the Civic’s fancy new cabin, it takes the win in my books.
As a whole, this new Civic represents an impressive step in the right direction towards refined quality for Honda. With the world heading the way that it is, the lack of a hybrid option in the Civic range is something that will need to be rectified sooner rather than later if Honda wants to continue with this iconic badge.