Hailing from the forever sunny town of Swindon in the UK, I have to admit to having quite a soft spot for the Honda brand. Just on the outskirts of town Honda built a production facility that employed thousands (and therefore put money into our local economy), initiated apprentice schemes, assisted with Schools and colleges and in turn helped with the town’s ‘educayshun’. So whenever I get chance to review any of the vehicles in the Honda lineup, it is always with a tinge of affection. That being said, when they said I should take a look at their new model, I wasn’t just excited I felt it was my Civic Duty (pun intended).
The Honda Civic is now in its 10th Generation and (since its launch in 1971) virtually every evolution has been a giant leap – this one is no exception. The styling is ambitious, sharp angles and lines meet both gentle and dramatic curves. Bright LED headlights contrast the darkest of Blacks that cover the grille and lower air vents. A prominent ascending line runs the length of the Civic’s profile; from the lower front wheel arch to the tail spoiler – it looks poised, ready to sprint and the 17” alloys adds to the effect. The taillights wrap over the rear corners and cross onto the boot lid (which boasts a deep 517 litres).
The model I got to play with was the RS and in eye catching Rallye Red. The RS comes with a 1.5L, 16v VTEC Turbo that gives you 127kW’s of power and 220Nm of torque (that comes in at 1,700rpm). This is strapped on to a CVT auto box with a G design shift – this (if you’re not familiar) gives the Civic a very long first gear and an odd reluctance to move to 2nd. It feels unusual at first but if you are trying to get away at the lights it’s genius. There are also 7 speed paddles for the control freaks amongst you. Even with a hefty turbo, the Civic RS manages to give you 6L/100k’s efficiency – it took me ages to get the electronic needle to move off full.
The interior is smart, efficient and also has a little quirkiness about it. The Sports leather Seats are firm and supportive (and heated) with design inlays. There are plenty of quality materials that fill the cabin and a tactile textured Dash. There is an LCD instrument cluster with multi function colour display which is incredibly clear (smart) and does something simulating a firework display on switch on (quirky).
The Civic has a 7” touch screen system that is very interactive. Apple CarPlay (with Siri), Android Auto (with Google), and Speak command. The sound booms out from 10 speakers and the volume control comes via the touch screen, push button on the wheel or (my favorite) stroking your thumb over an old school ‘wash board’ (quirky).
The also displays 3 reversing camera angles (narrow, wide and top down) and this follows on to one of my main/favorite points about the Civic – its visibility. It’s a good looking car that is bound to get you noticed but I’m more interested in the way the Civic notices what’s going on around it. It’s covered with sensors – parking and traffic, it’s got plenty of proximity cameras but it also goes one step further – blind spot.
Following a quick bit of research, I have discovered that around 18% of accidents are due to the notorious Blind Spot. This equates to 850,000 US collisions where (mostly when lane changing) a vehicle that is lurking in the area by your rear near side pillar gets hit. It’s a place that is out of view from both your rear view and side mirror and unless you turn your head or make a conscious effort to move, vehicles remain undetected until impact.
Most, if not ALL car manufacturers are aware of this and most (if not all) go to great measures to erase this issue but the Civic has given you an extra set of eyes there. Signal to go left and your entire rear near side view comes up on the 7” screen (it even has a grid to show how near or far objects are away). You don’t even have to indicate, push a button on the end of the indicator stalk and the same image appears. It’s a little distracting the first couple of times you use it, but once you’ve done it a few times it becomes second nature. The clarity is outstanding and I’m sure it’s a huge step towards Blind Spot removal (especially on the NZ roads where vehicles come at you from every direction and at multiple speeds). The NT version goes even further with Honda Sensing Technology – Forward Collision Warning and mitigation braking, Lane Departure warning and mitigation (it gently moves you back into your lane), lane keep and adaptive cruise control.
All of this leads me to the way this machine drives. Earlier in the month I had the chance to drive it on the track and even when pushing the RS reasonably hard in the wet it performed brilliantly. There was plenty of grip and heaps of pep – what else could you wish for. But as we all know, the track is one thing but day to day driving is where most of us live. The weather gods had given me a week of variety (from rain and gusty winds to bright sunshine and dry roads) so I happily took advantage of it all. Tearing away at junctions in the wet causes (an expected) huge loss of traction but The Civic balances it well. The wheels spin ‘ad infinitum’ but also take you where you want to go – the road ahead and not a pole. Same goes with navigating roundabouts quickly, you can literally feel the front wheels pulling you round the corners. The acceleration seems to keep on giving – the heavy footed amongst you with enjoy the looooong first gear (it’s cool to watch the turbo boost climb the scale in the instrument panel too). The speed and power numbers are all good but the Civic will just as happily be a conformist city car too. Plenty of boot space for a small family’s needs and more than enough spec to keep you entertained.
The Honda Civic RS’s looks offer great driveway appeal; grabbing just the right amount of attention from the neighbours. It’s fast when it needs to be and beautifully compliant regardless of road conditions or your personal demands. So with its styling, power and extra visibility, the Civic not only removes spots, in my opinion it really hits the ones you want too.
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