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Think of a "small car" and some iconic nameplates probably come to mind, like the Toyota Corolla, Holden Astra and Subaru Impreza. It's also quite likely, of course, that the first name that came to your mind was the venerable, and often venerated, Honda Civic, which has just entered its 11th generation.
The Civic is a little bit different, though, this time around, with Honda Australia now only offering its five-door hatchback body-style, following the recent axing of the slow-selling four-door sedan.
The even bigger news is the single, highly specified grade Honda Australia has launched the Civic in. So, does it live up to its surprising, and even slightly alarming $47,000 starting price? Read on to find out.
|Honda Civic 2022: VTi-LX|
|Engine Type||1.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
It goes without saying that the previous-generation Civic divided opinion with its exterior styling. For what it’s worth, I was seemingly in the minority that loved its ‘boy racer’ looks.
Still, it’s no surprise that Honda has taken its successor in a different direction, and I think it’s universally better for it.
Overall, the Civic is now a much more mature – and modern – small hatchback when it comes to design, but the bones are still there for the Type R to take it to a very sporty level.
The front end is classy, thanks to its swish LED headlights, but it’s also angry, due to the black honeycomb inserts used in the relatively small grille and massive front air intake.
Around the side, the Civic’s long, flat bonnet comes to the fore alongside its coupe-like sloping roofline, which caters to fans of the discontinued sedan, so much so that the hatchback now arguably offers the best of both worlds. You could even call it a liftback…
Aside from a couple of the meaningful body lines and side skirt extensions, the side-on look is the Civic’s most unremarkable angle – if it wasn’t for the VTi-LX’s 18-inch alloy wheels. Their double Y-spoke design looks sensational and is made even better thanks to its bi-colour finish.
At the rear, the Civic’s predecessor was at its most divisive for several reasons, but the new model is rather conservative, with its spoiler more neatly integrated into the tailgate, exposing an uninterrupted rear glass panel.
Meanwhile, the LED tail-lights are now bisected by the tailgate, while the bumper is mainly body coloured, with the black diffuser small enough to not create a scene, and a pair of wide exhaust tailpipe extensions also adding to the sportiness.
The Civic has also been overhauled inside, with Honda going to great lengths to make it feel as premium as the VTi-LX’s price suggests.
The artificial leather and suede upholstery used on the seats looks the part, especially with its red accents and stitching, which is also used on the steering wheel, gear selector and armrests. There’s also a soft-touch upper dashboard and front door shoulders to boot.
Mercifully, gloss-black trim is only used on uncommon touchpoints, with a different, textured material for the centre-console and door-switch surrounds. And no, it doesn’t attract fingerprints or scratch easily.
Gone is the integrated 7.0-inch central touchscreen, replaced by a ‘floating’ 9.0-inch unit with a new easy-to-use multimedia system that neatly serves up all the functionality you’ll ever need, but you do – thankfully – get full physical climate controls below.
In fact, all the buttons, knobs and switches feel great to use, including the directional controls for the front air vents, which are concealed by a sweeping honeycomb insert that’s only interrupted by the steering wheel.
Speaking of the VTi-LX’s steering wheel, ahead of it is a 7.0-inch multifunction display, which is positioned to the left of a traditional speedometer. This set-up certainly does the job, but you would’ve hoped to see the overseas-spec 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster for the money.
Measuring 4560mm long (with a 2735mm wheelbase), 1802mm wide and 1415mm tall, the Civic is certainly on the larger side for a small hatchback, making it very practical for its segment.
For a start, the Civic’s boot has a generous cargo capacity of 449L (VDA) due to the lack of a spare wheel (a tyre-repair kit is hidden in the cargo area’s side panel) offering an additional 10 per cent of storage space underfloor.
If you need even more room, the 60/40 split-fold rear bench can be stowed via the boot-accessible manual release latches to unleash the Civic’s full potential, although doing so further highlights the uneven floor.
Making the loading of bulkier items a little more difficult is the tall load lip, but the boot’s aperture is very accommodating, alongside the available four tie-down points, plus a single bag hook for securing looser pieces.
The cargo blind is split in two, with the furthest section being of the retractable variety, which makes it very easy to use. And if required, its fixture can also be removed.
In the second row, things are also excellent, with inches of legroom on offer behind my 184cm driving position. An inch of headroom is also available, but only some toe-room is afforded.
There’s a taller central tunnel to work around, so three adults do fight for precious footwell space – not to mention shoulder-room – when seated abreast, but that’s not unusual for this segment.
Younger children are also accommodated for, with three top-tether and two ISOFIX anchorage points on hand for fitting child seats.
Amenities-wise, there’s a passenger-side map pocket and a fold-down armrest with two cupholders but no ski port, while the rear door bins can take one extra regular bottle each.
Coat hooks are next to the grab handles, while directional air vents are located at the rear of the centre console, and below them is a blank panel where two USB-A ports feature in other markets – these are a disappointing omission for Australian customers.
Moving to the first row, the inclusions are better, with the centre console featuring two cupholders, a grippy wireless smartphone charger, two USB-A ports and a 12V power outlet. The front door bins also take one regular bottle each.
Storage-wise, the central bin is not only large, but it comes with a removable tray that’s great for coins and the like. The glovebox is only average in size, providing enough room for the owner’s manual and not much else.
Gone are the days of multiple grades in the Civic range, as the 11th-generation model has just one: the VTi-LX.
Of course, excluding Type R, that designation was previously used by flagship Civic variants, which makes sense given how much the new version costs.
Yes, that means there are no traditional entry-level or mid-range Civic grades anymore, with the VTi-LX priced at a hefty $47,200 driveaway.
Standard equipment in the VTi-LX is generous, with 18-inch alloy wheels, auto-folding side mirrors with heating, a 9.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with over-the-air updates, and wireless Apple CarPlay support having been added over its predecessor.
Inside, a 12-speaker Bose sound system, a wireless smartphone charger, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, artificial-leather and suede upholstery, and red ambient lighting are new, too.
And then there are also a 7.0-inch multifunction display, dual-zone climate control, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, alloy pedals and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Despite its premium positioning, the VTi-LX isn’t available with a sunroof, a digital instrument cluster (a 10.2-inch unit is offered overseas), a head-up display, a heated steering wheel or cooled front seats.
At launch, the VTi-LX is motivated by a familiar but revised 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine. It now produces a hearty 131kW of power (+4kW) at 6000rpm and 240Nm of torque (+20Nm) from 1700-4500rpm.
The VTi-LX is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but it, too, has been upgraded for improved performance. As in the past, outputs are sent to the front wheels.
If you’re after something a little more eco-friendly, a ‘self-charging’ hybrid powertrain, dubbed e:HEV, will be added to the Civic range in the second half of 2022. It will pair a petrol engine with an electric motor, so stay tuned for our upcoming review.
But if you want higher performance , then hold out for the yet-to-be-revealed next-generation Type R hot hatch, which will arrive at the end of 2022. If it’s anything like its predecessor, it will be worth waiting for.
The VTi-LX’s fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR) is an encouraging 6.3L/100km, but in my real-world testing I averaged 8.2L/100km, which, while 28 per cent higher than the claim, is a solid return given some enthusiastic driving.
Obviously, the aforementioned e:HEV will be more efficient, both in controlled conditions and the real world, so keep an eye out for our forthcoming testing of the second Civic variant.
For reference, the VTi-LX’s 47L fuel tank takes affordable 91RON petrol at minimum and provides a claimed range of 746km, or 573km in my experience.
Behind the wheel of the VTi-LX, the first thing you notice – or rather don’t notice – is the CVT. Yes, CVTs get a very bad rap in general, but not this one – it is the exception to the rule.
Around town, the VTi-LX’s CVT quietly goes about its business, doing its best impression of a traditional torque-converter automatic transmission, and shifting between its simulated ratios (paddle-shifters afford the driver control if desired) in a remarkably natural manner.
That said, the VTi-LX’s CVT does behave like any other under full throttle, seemingly holding onto higher engine speeds as it progressively piles on speed, but it’s by no means a dealbreaker.
And if you want to extract the full potential of the 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, engage the new Sport drive mode for not only a sharper throttle, but also higher shift points for the CVT.
The latter ensures the VTi-LX is always in its fat torque band, which gives you plenty of pulling power when you need it. But even in the Normal drive mode, acceleration is pretty solid for the segment, as its braking performance.
But the VTi-LX’s real party trick is its handling prowess. Make no mistake, this is a small car that loves to seek out a corner or two, with turn-in sharp and body control remarkably good.
Push a little too hard and understeer can present itself, but drive to the conditions and the VTi-LX is just a joy through the bends. In fact, it’s confidence-inspiring. And to think, this isn’t even the Type R!
Key to this success is the steering – it’s nice and direct without being twitchy, and well-weighted at speed with plenty of feel, although some drivers might prefer a lighter tune when driving slowly or parking. As far as I’m concerned, it’s fantastic.
If the VTi-LX does have an area where it could improve, it’s ride quality. Don’t get me wrong, the suspension is comfortable, but it’s merely good, not great.
Naturally, things are buttery smooth on well-maintained roads, but uneven surfaces can expose the VTi-LX’s busier side. And for that reason, I’d be keen to see how the Civic performs with higher-profile tyres (235/40 R18s are fitted).
Even without chunkier rubber, the suspension settles in at higher speeds, delivering a more consistent ride. Again, the quality is far from awful, but it’s just not class-leading like so many other parts of the VTi-LX package, which is likely due to its more sporty skew.
However, another positive is the VTi-LX’s noise levels – or lack thereof. You can tell Honda has gone to lengths to give it a quieter cabin and the hard work has paid off.
Yes, engine, tyre and general road noises are still heard, but the volume has been turned off, particularly in the urban jungle, where you can quickly forget there is an outside world when the 12-speaker Bose sound system is in action.
One other thing Honda has taken to the next level is visibility, as the windshield is noticeably larger, giving the driver an almost panoramic view of the road ahead. And even the sloping tailgate hasn’t come at the cost of decent rear glass.
Better yet, the repositioning of the side mirrors to the doors has opened a line of sight that previously wasn’t available, with the same true of the new side quarter windows that make over-the-shoulder head checks that little bit easier.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
When it comes to safety, the Civic has also come a long way, but that’s not to say it’s reset its segment’s benchmark.
Advanced driver-assist systems that are new to the VTi-LX include Traffic Jam Assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver-attention monitoring and rear occupant alert, while dual knee airbags have also joined the package, taking the total to eight (including dual front, side and curtain).
Autonomous emergency braking with intersection assist and pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep and steering assist, adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist and a reversing camera also feature.
Unfortunately, parking sensors and surround-view cameras are unavailable, and the same goes for emergency steering functionality and a front-centre airbag, both of which could prevent the Civic from getting the maximum five-star safety rating from ANCAP.
That's right, neither ANCAP nor its European counterpart, Euro NCAP, have yet crash tested the new Civic, so we will have to wait and see how it stacks up.
Like all other Honda Australia models, the Civic comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is two years short of the ‘no strings attached’ standard set by a few other mainstream brands.
The Civic also gets five years of roadside assistance, although the VTi-LX’s service intervals are on the shorter side when it comes to distance, at every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first.
That said, the first five services cost just $125 each under the available capped-price servicing – that’s an exceptional total of $625 for the first five years, or 50,000km, of ownership.
Compared to its predecessor, the 11th-generation Civic is a massive improvement in nearly every way. It’s universally good-looking, as practical as a small hatchback gets, cheap to run and great to drive.
But with a $47,000 starting price, the Civic is now out of reach for a lot of buyers, some of whom were keen to put down their hard-earned for the new model.
For that reason, I’d love to see Honda Australia introduce at least one lower-specification grade that makes the Civic more affordable, even if it is competing in a shrinking segment.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
|RS||1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$35,600||2022 Honda Civic 2022 RS Pricing and Specs|
|Type R||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$54,990||2022 Honda Civic 2022 Type R Pricing and Specs|
|VTi||1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$23,790||2022 Honda Civic 2022 VTi Pricing and Specs|
|VTi-L||1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$31,100||2022 Honda Civic 2022 VTi-L Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|