Honda Civic VTi L Turbo : Review & Road Test
Review by Michael Tancredi - 5 August 2016
The new Honda Civic sedan was recently launched onto the Australian market with Honda Director Stephen Collins declaring that, "The number of pre-orders [for the Civic] eclipses those we received for the HR-V SUV when it first arrived in early 2015 and the HR-V has become our best seller".
The Civic feels like it has been around forever. It originally launched in Australia back in 1973 and now, in it's 10th generation, has continued to evolve while maintaining the respect and admiration of the Australian public. Since its inception over 300,000 Civics have been in Australia, a clear measure of its popularity.
With it's sleek, smooth yet distinctive look the Civic is sure to maintain its position as an attractive purchase for both the younger and more mature driver. This release is only available with the Continuous Variable Transmission but it does offer an all-new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine. The release is available in five styles, the VTi, VTi-S, VTi-L, RS & VTi-LX and, depending on which interests, ranges in price from $22,300* to $33,590*.
We took a Civic VTi-L out for a spin recently and were very impressed with its drive, handling and performance.
The Honda Civic VTi L Turbo is a very comfortable and trouble free vehicle to drive. The driver has an excellent view in all directions as well as a clear view of all instrumentation. The ride was smooth regardless of road surface and the suspension (front McPherson strut, rear Multi-link) handled unsealed roads with easy. Road noise up through the tyres was negligible within suburban speed limits but tended to increase in volume at higher speeds but not uncomfortably so.
The distinctly sculptured bonnet with sharply defined swage lines slopes sufficiently so that it doesn't present a visual distraction to the driver and obstruct close forward vision. This make it relatively easy to see obstacles forward of the vehicle when parking nose to kerb. Visibility was improved markedly with the positioning of a camera under the left side mirror that provided a view of approaching traffic on the screen when the left indicator was engaged. The image was high resolution during daylight but tended to be low resolution, and hence provided a blurry image, in low light conditions, i.e. at night.
The 1.5L Turbo engine is very responsive and provides excellent acceleration and with continuous variable transmission (CVT) moves smoothly through the range. At any speed, when the accelerator is depressed, power is near to instantaneous and acceleration is smooth, enabling a quick take off from a standing start and smooth and rapid overtaking. The transmission responds smoothly and changes up or down appropriately when faced with hills or steep grades. Using the paddles while in D drive provides quicker acceleration/deceleration and changes are next to seamless through 1 to 7. Dropping the gear stick into S provides for better acceleration and increased engine braking and provides for a more "sportier" feel when using the paddles. Shifts were smooth and next to instantaneous.
We took the Civic over a variety of road surfaces, along freeways, up and down suburban streets and over undulating winding country roads. We pushed it into corners and accelerated out of bends and drove over sealed and unsealed roads under various conditions. It performed extremely well on all surfaces and when pulling out of bends or chicanes at speed. In the main, the vehicle held its line beautifully under hard braking (front ventilated disc and rear solid disc) at various speeds, although we did experience some slight pull to the left after several hard braking exercises. Over rough terrain we did bounce about a bit in the cabin but during general driving everything was smooth sailing.
The Civic was easy to manoeuvre in tight parking spots.
One annoying aspect of our test vehicle was it's very sensitive front parking sensors. We found they activated when stopped at an intersection and when vehicles in the left lane passed in front of us. This may have been a peculiarity of the test vehicle.
The Honda Civic is available in either a 1.5L or 1.8L petrol engine. The 1.5L litre petrol is a DOHC VTEC Turbo In line 4-cylinder direct injection engine with a power output of 127kW @ 5500rpm and that generates torque of 220Nm @ between 1700 - 5500rpm whereas the 1.8L is a SOHC i-VTEC In line 4-cylinder with a power output of 104kW @ 6500rpm and generates torque of 1750Nm @ 430rpm. Our test vehicle was the 1.5L Turbo ran extremely smoothly and provided sufficient power and acceleration. If you were after more of a sporty feel and more exhilarating ride, it was just a matter of utilising the paddle shifters (standard on the 1.5L Turbo).
All models are only available with Continuously Variable Transmission option. Selecting Selecting Second (S) shifts the transmission into a lower range of ratios for better acceleration and increased engine braking.
The stated average fuel consumption for the 1.5L Turbo petrol under controlled conditions is 6.0 L/100km and 6.4 L/100k with the 1.8L petrol. According to the on-board computer for our VTi-L 1.5L Turbo we clocked it at 8.4L/100km over suburban streets, highways and freeways and we pushed it pretty hard at times. Our actual consumption compared reasonably to that obtained under controlled conditions. What we'd call an reasonable result.
CO2 claimed emission under a variety of driving conditions for the 1.5L Turbo petrol is 140g/km and the 1.8L petrol, 148g/kg. As a guide, the Australian national average carbon emissions from new passenger and light commercial vehicles was 192g/km [Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Australian Vehicles 2013 : Information Paper May 2014*]. For those conscious of their CO2 footprint this represents a good result.
Recommended fuel is 91 RON.
(*The represents a 3.4% reduction from the results of the 2012 Guide.)
The Honda Civic is quite a sleek looking medium sized sedan. In profile the sloping roof line and tapering to the rear and the small triangular rear side window line give it the flavour of a coupé. The bold parallel swage lines across both doors coupled with the concave flair along the base of the doors give an impression of a solid rigid design. The shape of the rear light compliments the side on view of the front profile. Although a sedan it does have a touch of the sporty about it. Interesting inclusion of the turn indicators moulded into the front wheel arches.
It has a bit of a chunky look about it in front profile with lots of blocks and slats and depressions. Ones eyes are drawn to the large black sculptured air scoops that adorn the front bumper and house the small circular halogen fog lamps (LED in the RS and VTi-LX). The rather mean looking, wrap to the side head lamp array (halogen projector or LED depending on the model) with LED daytime running lights are topped and separated by rather bold chrome feature the dominates the grill area. That plus the shape of the bumper, with it's sharp edges and lines accentuates the large centred iconic Honda logo. The chrome, blacked out grill and air scoops and the body coloured bumper add to it's sporty look.
If it wasn't for the distinctive shape of the rear lights the rear profile would look quite pedestrian but I did like the way the line of the top of the boot door was shaped to continue the line of the rear windows, quite stylish.
The Civic sits on 16" or 17" steel or alloy wheels (17" alloy for the VTi-L) within 215/55 R16 or 215/55 R17 tyres depending on the model. The dimensions are: 4644mm long, 1416mm high and 1799mm wide and has a wheel base of 2700mm. Its turning radius is 5.3 metres (roughly a 10.6 metre turning circle kerb to kerb). All models come with a space saver spare wheel.
Apart from the a largish area of the front end, lower window edging and pillars the body is one solid colour. There are seven paint options from which to choose (1 standard and 4 metallic and 2 pearlescent, the metallic and pearlescent incur an extra charge). Our test vehicle came in Lunar Silver (Metallic).
The Honda Civic has been awarded a 5-star ANCAP safety rating with an overall score of 34.91 out of 37.
Standard with the Civic are: driver and front passenger SRS airbags, front side SRS impact airbags and front and rear side curtain SRS airbags.
Other standard safety features across the range include:
- anti-lock braking system (ABS) with;
- electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD); which varies the amount of force applied to each of a vehicle's wheels, based on road conditions, speed, loading, etc;
- emergency brake assist (EBA); which applies extra force when braking if it senses an emergency situation;
- traction control system (TCS) [also referred to a electronic stability program (ESP)]; which improves a vehicle's stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction (skidding) by detecting loss of steering control by automatically applying the brakes to wheels individually;
- vehicle stability assist (VSA); which helps to stabilise the vehicle during cornering;
- electronic stability control (ESC) or electronic stability program (ESP); which improves a vehicle's stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction (skidding) by detecting loss of steering control by automatically applying the brakes to wheels individually;
- emergency stop signal (ESS); which causes the brakes and hazard lights to flash when the brakes are applied with force in an emergency stopping situation;
- hill start assist (HSA); which prevents the car from rolling when starting on an incline; and,
- straight driving assist (SDA): which assists the driver to maintain a straight line under adverse road condition when cruise control is activated.
All models come standard with rear (x4) and front (x2) acoustic and visual parking sensors (optional with the VT-i) and rear view camera with screen display. Only available on the VTi-LX are lane departure warning, blind spot detection, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, collision mitigation braking system which alerts the driver to an impending collision and helps reduce the severity of any collision and road departure mitigation system that alerts the driver with a visual and audible lane-departure warnings and if no steering correction is applied, the system can apply steering torque to help keep the vehicle in the detected lane.
The Civic has a well finished interior with lots of head and leg room for front and back seat passengers. Three average sized adult passengers would fit comfortably but with little elbow room in the back seat. The design is such that back seat passengers don't feel isolated. The driver is well positioned and has a clear view in all directions. The view forward is excellent and little of the bonnet is seen a this provides a good view of obstacles when parking nose to kerb.
The driver and front passenger seats are extremely comfortable and supportive of the body and flanks. The front seats can be electrically adjusted manually (8-way electric adjustment in the RS & VTi-LX). The upholstery is black fabric in the VTi, black premium fabric in the VTi-S and VTi_L and black leather appointed in the RS and VTi-LX.
The leather wrapped steering wheel fits comfortably in the hand and is a good shape and size and houses the entertainment, telephone and cruise controls and the on-board computer controller. All are easily manipulated by the respective thumb and are intuitive to use.
The driver is in easy reach of all controls and had good line of sight to all instrumentation. The dash instrumentation is simple in design, uncluttered and all digital. It comprises, in the main, a dial tacho surrounding a number display speedo. To the right and left of this display is a digital temperature gauge and digital petrol gauge respectively. The dials and display were easy to read with a good contrast and largish numbers. Only the VTi-LX comes standard with Adaptive Cruise Control.
The entertainment system powered the AM/FM/DAB* radio and could handle input from USB (x2), Bluetooth® and iPod. Output was via a 160W eight speaker system (4 speakers/4 tweeters) located to the front and rear of the cabin. Output for the RS and VTi-LX was via a 452W premium sound system incorporating 10 speakers including a. sub-woofer. The sound for the 160W system was clear and distinct with a good tonal range and could handle the volume when opened up.
The system also includes Carplay® and Android Auto (compatible with Apple® & Android systems respectively). Both perform similarly and allow most all the functionality of your mobile devices, including Google or Apple Maps, to be displayed and actioned via the touch screen. Connectivity requires plugging in the phones cable.
All functions could be managed/monitored through the 7" colour LCD touch screen. The VTi-LX model came standard with a SUNA™ satellite navigation multimedia system with traffic information. The system was straight forward and intuitive to use, was easy to program and read and provided good distinct voice instructions. It's good to see Honda have finally settled on one screen and incorporated most of the features within it. Most of the recent Honda vehicles we've driven have had two screens, the second of which we considered superfluous.
The duel climate control system in the VTi-L and also standard in the RS and VTi-LX provided more than adequate volumes of air and ran quietly but became became progressively louder the higher the fan was set. It has a fair range between cold and hot. Heating or cooling kicked in sufficiently quickly. The VTi and VTi-S come standard with a single zone climate control system.
There is more than ample storage for anything from cups, maps, sunglasses papers, books, bottles and all other paraphernalia that you may need while driving.
The rear cargo area can hold up to up to 519 litres with the rear seat up. This can be greatly expanded with the rear seat folded forward. The rear seat back was easy to lower and raise.
(*DAB is not available in the VTi or VTi-S)
The Honda Civic has continued to improved over its 40 plus years and this is no exception. It looks good, with a touch of the sporty, and handles extremely well with it's new 1.5L Turbo engine design coupled with its highly efficient continuous variable transmission, with paddles.
This is a car, we feel, to suit all ages, with enough power and zip combined with comfort and ease of driving and at a reasonable price point.
Consider this for a test drive if you're in the market for a mid sized sedan.
* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised Honda dealer.
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