There's plenty of grip and it sits nice and flat on the road with a low centre of gravity that gives the car a real "planted" feel.
Chris Riley road tests and reviews the Honda Civic Sport.
Believe it or not this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Honda Civic. More than 20 million Civics have been sold world-wide since production began in Japan back in 1972.
Over 200,000 of those cars have found homes in Australia where it sought after by young drivers, with its reputation for being sporty, reliable and economical.
A couple of years ago the Civic actually morphed into two cars but both kept the same name: a European designed and built hatch and Japanese produced sedan (although the sedan actually comes out of Thailand).
Our test car, the Civic Sport sedan, which was released earlier this year, is now in its ninth generation.
The Civic has evolved into a large small car over the years, with comfortable accommodation for four adults, along with a good-sized boot (seats up to five).
At a pinch it's big enough to use as the family car but you could run out room when the holidays roll around. It's easy to get in and out of and easy to drive and park, with a 50-litre fuel tank that takes standard unleaded fuel.
At $27,990 it's a whopping $7000 more than the standard VTi-L. The badge suggests something far more exciting than the standard fare, but if it's there we missed it.
For starters the fact you can't get a manual is going to rule it out for many, especially the "doof-doof" boys. Bluetooth with audio streaming and steering wheel phone and audio controls are standard, with AUX and USB ports. For the extra dosh the Sport gets the auto ($2300 option otherwise), leather, fog lights, 17 inch alloys and a sunroof but that's the extent of it.
The Sport gets a 2.0-litre engine instead of a 1.8, with an output pf 114 instead of 104kW and 190 instead of 174Nm of torque. Both are single cam jobs but the jump in power is really not that great and not much of a drawcard (surely it's the primary reason for buying a sporty model?).
You can get the VTi-L as a manual or automatic, but the Sport comes only with the five-speed auto albeit with paddle shifts. The car goes well enough and dropping the transmission into sport mode elicits a more aggressive response, but you won't want to leave it there for long because the engine races and is unable to settle.
It lacks low down torque and in typical Honda fashion doesn't really get going until you have around 4500 revs on the dial where its more responsive. There's plenty of grip and it sits nice and flat on the road with a low centre of gravity that gives the car a real "planted" feel.
Fuel consumption is rated at 7.5 litres/100km (we were getting 8.5) and the car has a full 5-star safety rating with all the latest safety gear.
INSIDE AND OUT
We like the big digital speedo. The dash is divided into upper and lower tiers, with controls grouped according to function. Despite the leather upholstery it still has that overly plastic insubstantial feel that many Hondas seem to have.
It sits on 17 inch alloys with a temporary spare. The rear looks like a lift from the Benz C-Class. There's no sign of satnav, no climate air, no power seat adjustment, no lumbar adjustment for driver's seat, no cool LEDs, no rear spoiler, no body kit and certainly no dual exhaust outlets.
Sorry. If that's the Sport we'd save our bickies and take the VTi-L. The Sport is functional but not a particularly engaging driving experience. Performance is okay, handling is okay and the technology is okay too - in fact it's all okay but never manages to rise beyond this point.
Honda Civic Sport
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl petrol
Dimensions: 4540mm (L), 1755mm (w), 1435mm (h)
Transmission: sports automatic, front wheel drive
Economy: 7.5 / 100km
Ford Focus Sport - compare this car
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Price: from $33,190
Engine: 120kW/340Nm 2.0L Duratorq Turbo Diesel Common Rail (TDCi) four-cylinder
Transmission: 5-Speed manual transmission
VW Golf Bluemountain - compare this car
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Price: from $28,990
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive.
Mazda3 Maxx Sport - compare this car
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Engine: 108kW/182Nm 2.0-litre petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Economy: 7.9 l/100km; 187g/km CO2
Holden Cruze SRi-V - compare this car
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Price: from $27,990 (auto plus $2000)
Engine: 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre 16-valve four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: six-speed auto, front wheel drive
Economy: 6.9 l/100km; 164g/km CO2
Renault Megane - compare this car
Rating: hatch 3 stars out of 5, RS 2.5 stars out of 5, CC 2 stars out of 5
Prices: Hatch: $22,990 (Dynamique manual or $25,990 driveaway), $24,990 (Dynamique CVT), $29,990 (Privilege CVT) $29,990. Coupe-Cabriolet: $45,990. RS250 Cup: $41,990. RS250 Cup Trophee: $46,990
Engine: 1997cc (1998cc RS), 16-valve, 4-cylinder (twin-scroll turbo RS)
Transmissions: 6-step CVT, 6-speed manual
Economy: 8.2L/100km (manual hatch), 7.9 (CVT hatch), 8.7 (RS), 8.1 (CC)