Honda Civic VTi-L review

Rear view of Honda Civic VTi-L

HONDA CIVIC VTi-L

Price: $27,790 + $3516 (approx) ORC
Engine: 1.5L turbo-petrol, CVT
Safety: ESC, ABS, 6 airbags, reversing camera, blind-spot monitor, tyre sensors
Economy: 7.1L/100km
RACV rating: * * * *

Back in form

The new Honda Civic has the style, quality, space and on-road ability needed to take on the leaders in its class.

Honda’s all-new 2016 Civic sedan is a significant step up from the previous model. This 10th generation is bigger, bolder and better equipped, with two engine options and improved dynamics adding to the driving enjoyment. Honda has done a good job of focusing on what buyers want and need, making Civic one of the better small car choices, but in some areas it’s a case of catching up rather than setting new class standards.

Competitive pricing

Civic’s pricing and equipment levels are designed to be competitive rather than budget-driven. Leading off the five-grade, automatic-only line-up is the VTi ($22,390 plus on-road costs) and slightly better equipped VTi-S ($24,490), which are both powered by fundamentally the same 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine from the previous Civic.

Our review car is the VTi-L ($27,990 plus on-road costs), which has a new 1.5-litre direct-injected four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.

Moving up the scale, $31,790 buys the sportier-dressed RS, while the top-spec VTi-LX ($33,590) has a suite of highly desirable active safety features that are not available even as options on the other models.

Civic’s distinctive coupe-like shape has a more athletic appearance, while being bigger all-round translates into more interior space. It could almost be classed as a medium size car now. The cabin has a friendly, open feel with excellent forward visibility, and while the view to the rear is not perfect, it’s acceptable by today’s standards, especially given that a reversing camera is standard across the range.

Also, all models except the VTi have Honda’s Lanewatch blind spot monitoring on the left side, which activates when the left indicator is used and displays a wide-angle view on the car’s seven-inch colour screen.

Quality presentation

There’s quality in the presentation, with a pleasing, tactile feel to the trim materials, as well as improved attention to detail in the fit and finish. Well-shaped front seats ensure a comfort­able driving position, while the controls and dash are more conventional than in the previous model’s two-tier set-up. It’s a clear, easy-to-use arrangement that delivers the high level of technology and infotainment desired these days.

The new Civic’s extra legroom in the rear will be most appreciated but probably not the sloping roof-line, which makes the space a touch tight for tall occupants. The boot is also massive for this class. Split-fold rear seats add to the versatility however they don’t fold fully flat, and as in other sedans the width of the opening into the cabin is a little restricted.

The VTi-L’s on-road ability is impressive. Paying the premium for the higher-spec models can easily be justified with the excellent all-round performance delivered by the sophisticated new 1.5-litre engine. The most pleasing aspect is its strong flexibility and easy-to-drive manner in everyday use. This can be attributed to the broad spread of peak torque, from 1700rpm to 5500rpm. And our performance test figures show the VTi-L is surprisingly quick when needed. It will out-run its main competitors and has the stopping power to match. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts and step modes in the CVT transmission allow the driver control when desired.

Pleasing fuel economy

In our review we found the VTi-L delivered a pleasing mix of performance and fuel economy. Its official consumption of 6.0L/100km and the real-world return of 7.1L/100km on our test are at the better end of the field.

Major improvements to Civic’s chassis and suspension provide a comfortable yet engaging drive. Most bumps are absorbed with ease and the body movement is relatively well controlled, thanks to the car’s new platform that provides a bigger, more stable footprint. Front suspension revisions include improved bushing and a tubular stabiliser bar, while at the rear it is a sophisticated, all-new multi-link suspension system. The steering has a sharper, more progressive and well-weighted feel, with fewer turns lock-to-lock and new electric power- assisted steering. Plenty of attention has also been given to noise reduction, making for a generally quiet cabin.

The hatchback version of this new- generation Civic will arrive in Australia early next year.

The verdict

After spending time in the wilderness, Honda’s Civic sedan now has the style, quality, space and on-road ability to seriously challenge the class leaders in this popular, ever improving small/medium category.

Car review: Greg Hill
Published in RoyalAuto Nov 2016
 

Honda Civic VTi-L

Price. $27,790 + $3516 (est) ORC. Premium paint $575. Range $22,390-$33,590.
Safety. ESC. ABS. 6 airbags. Blind spot monitor (left side). Reversing camera. Front/rear parking sensors. Tyre pressure alert. Auto lights/wipers. ISOFIX fittings. Daytime lights. Front fog lights.
Connectivity. 7” touch-screen. Bluetooth. Digital radio. Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. 2 USB ports.
Vehicle features. Dual-zone climate-control. Heated front seats. Cloth seats. Alarm.
Driver features. Fully-adjustable steering wheel. Cruise control. Keyless entry/start. Walk-away locking.
Specifications
Drivetrain: 1498cc, 4cyl turbo-petrol engine. 2WD. CVT. 127kW@ 5500rpm, 220Nm@1700-5500rpm.
Performance: 0-60km/h, 3.8sec. 0-80, 5.7. 0-100, 7.9. 50-80, 3.7. 60-100, 4.7. 0-400m, 15.8. Stopping from 80km/h, 22.2m.
Fuel: 7.1L/100km (RACV test); 6.0L/100km (govt test). 47L tank. 91-RON petrol.
Wheels: 17” alloy, 215/55 R17 tyres. Space-saver spare. Towing: 800kg (50kg towball load).
Environment: 140g/km CO2.
Service/repairs. 12-month/10,000km services. 3yr/100,000km warranty.

RACV can help

All your motoring needs are covered at racv.com.au, where you’ll find insurance, finance (including salary packaging options), road tests, and great consumer aids such as running cost surveys and car-buying tips.

Category ratings

Pricing: * * *
Features & equipment: * * * 1/2
Presentation: * * * *
Seating comfort: * * * *
Space: * * * * ½
Noise: * * * *
Performance* * * * ½
Economy: * * * 1/2
Handling & braking: * * * *
Ride quality: * * * *
Safety (ANCAP): not yet tested