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The Honda Civic DTi-S was the first Honda diesel to reach the Australian market. It has since been joined by the CR-V DTi-S and DTi-L diesels, and is set to be joined by the Jazz-based HR-V in diesel form early next year with many more oilers likely to follow.
So, the once petrol and petrol-electric only Japanese brand is quickly padding out its diesel lineup, but the Civic DTi-S is a unique option in the mainstream small segment.
Aside from the diesel engine, the rest of the package is familiar ninth-generation Civic hatch, which is very comfortable and roomy for a small hatchback.
The cabin materials are all first-class, and the leather steering wheel is one of the best in the business. The seats are trimmed in soft cloth that makes you question the point of leather.
The flexibility of the 18-way folding rear seats is outstanding, and a spacesaver spare makes room for a 400-litre boot with the seats up.
The $27,990 Civic diesel sits between the VTi-L and VTi-LN petrol models on price, and comes with modern must-haves like dual-zone climate control, a multimedia screen with reversing camera and Bluetooth.
There’s also a leather steering wheel and gearknob, auto headlamps and wipers, hill-assist, tyre-pressure monitoring, speed-limiting cruise control, and 17 inch alloys.
The Civic’s 88kW/300Nm 1.6-litre turbodiesel is Honda’s own design, and the high-tech unit is claimed to be the lightest diesel engine in the world.
Those after an automatic transmission will be disappointed though, as the Civic DTi-S is only available with a six-speed manual transmission.
However, it is one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market with an official 4.0L/100km combined figure, and should be able to squeeze over 1200km from its 50-litre tank on the open road.
Helping drivers achieve this is an Eco mode, suggestive gear-shift light, and colour-coded dash lighting to encourage frugal driving, and a switchable stop/start system helps save fuel around town.
Like all current Civics, the DTi-S hatch comes with the maximum five star ANCAP rating, with dual front and side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, ABS, EBD and stability control as standard.
The 1.6-litre engine relies heavily on the turbo to achieve its impressive outputs. So it can take a moment to wind up, but when it does it gets along quite well.
The DTi-S is quite at home at highway speeds and up hills, and the six-speed manual’s well-defined and slick throw is a joy to use.
It’s also one of very few to put reverse down next to 6th, and there’s no tricky push-down or pull-up mechanism to grab reverse.
In sixth-gear at 100km/h, it ticks over at just 1750 rpm, which is right near the engine’s 2000rpm torque peak. As such, it takes a big incline to force a downshift and for the most part can be left in sixth.
The diesel makes a bit of typical grumble at slow speeds, but Honda’s Active Noise Cancellation system helps keep things very quiet on the highway. The ride quality also really quite nice, and the handling is planted and predictable.
If you cover big distances, this is easily the Civic for you. It’s a premium experience on a mainstream budget, as long as you don’t mind the occasional gearshift.
Honda Civic DTi-S
Price: from $27,990
Engine: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder diesel, 88kW/300Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, FWD
Thirst: 4.0L/100Km, 105g/km CO2
|DTi-S||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$9,300 – 14,080||2014 Honda Civic 2014 DTi-S Pricing and Specs|
|VTi-L||1.8L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO||$9,800 – 14,740||2014 Honda Civic 2014 VTi-L Pricing and Specs|
|VTi-LN||1.8L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO||$9,800 – 14,740||2014 Honda Civic 2014 VTi-LN Pricing and Specs|
|VTi-S||1.8L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$7,700 – 11,990||2014 Honda Civic 2014 VTi-S Pricing and Specs|