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Honda Civic RS sedan 2016 review

2016 Honda Civic RS sedan
EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Honda Civic RS sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Honda Civic RS sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

I was seven-years-old when I ate my first Honda Civic. I didn't mean to. It was our family car, a second-generation Civic wagon and it happened on the way to the caravan park we'd always go to for the Christmas holidays. I'd been leaning my head against the window sill in the back seat and about an hour into the trip I look down and saw I'd chewed a hole in the padded door trim, it was big enough to stick my thumb in and all the foam was coming out.

Telling Dad was the hardest thing I'd done. I remember him standing there in his Speedos screaming at me: "Do you know what this is going to do to the resale value?!"

I wasn't sure what a resale value was, but I promised I'd never do it again and I'm proud to say I've kept that oath right up until today... although the door trim on our new generation Civic Sedan RS test car looked delicious.

This 10th generation Civic arrived in Australia in June this year in sedan form. A hatch version will land in 2017 along with the high-performance Type R.

 The RS looks best front on – those blade-like LED headlights, the black grille and the broad sculptured bonnet with the sports car pontoon-like wheel guards combined with the low stance is sexy.

The RS specification is the sporty one in the line-up, sitting above the base-spec VTi, the VTi-S and VTi-L and below the range topping VTi-LX.

The Civic Sedan lives in the small car segment and uses pictures of Hyundai's Elantra, Toyota's Corolla sedan, the Mazda3, and Kia's Cerato as dartboards.

Design

The Civic RS sedan looks like a little bit Honda's NSX supercar... if you squint. But it's not as hot when you look at with your eyes open.

Everybody has their good and bad angles, the RS looks best front on – those blade-like LED headlights, the black grille and the broad sculptured bonnet with the sports car pontoon-like wheel guards combined with the low stance is sexy.

But start walking towards the back and the styling starts to go all awkward with the wrongness peaking at the boot where it's a jumble of angles and lines to my eyes.

There's a high-quality feel to the cabin – from the leather seats to the door trims with their chrome-look accents.

At 4644mmm end-to-end and 1799mm across this Civic is over 500mm longer and 100mm wider than the last generation. It's big for the class too, the Mazda3 Sedan for instance is 4580mm long and 1795mm wide.

I love how low this car is - it's 1416mm from ground to roof and visually that makes this car look even sleeker. The Corolla in comparison is 1460mm tall, the Cerato stands 1435mm high and the Mazda is 1450mm.

The interior design is so very Honda in that it's original, quirky, innovative and a little bit stuck in the 1980s. There's the layered dashboard of many textures, a great-feeling steering wheel with array of weird controls, and a multi-storey centre console that is as confusing as it is interesting.

There's a high-quality feel to the cabin – from the leather seats to the door trims with their chrome-look accents – although I promise you I don't know what they taste like.

Practicality

Sure the Civic has an ugly bottom but it's also a strong point because in terms of cargo space – it's booty-ful. We're talking 517 litres (VDA). That's colossal. The other small sedans don't even come close - Mazda's is 408 litres, the Corolla Sedan's is 470 litres even the big-assed Cerato's is smaller at 482 litres.

The cabin is enormous, too. I'm 191cm end-to-end and when I sit behind my driving position there about a hand's span between my knees and the seat back – I've sat in the back of large cars that have had less legroom.

Headroom is a bit limited because of the fastback-style, but I can sit straight up without my big hair touching the ceiling.

Shoulder room is excellent in the back row, too.

The driving position in the RS is excellent.

Up front the seats are excellent, comfortable and supportive. But the rest of the functionality of the cockpit is more awkward than a teenage Richard Berry. The multistorey centre console has a hard-to-get-to USB and 12V power point on the lower level, the centre armrest has a lid that's so tricky to open I think I broke it and the climate control has dials for the temperature but to change the fan speed you need to go through the display screen.

You'll find two cup holders in the fold down rear centre armrest and another two in the centre console up front. The doors have storage pockets but aren't really designed for bottles, unless your water bottle is a hipflask – that'd fit.

Price and features

The Civic sedan in RS spec costs $31,790, just $1800 off the top-spec VTi-LX. Mazda's sporty equivalent, the SP25 GT matches that price.

The RS picks up the all the standard features of the cars below it in the range. It gets the 7-inch touchscreen with reversing camera and DRLs from the base spec VTi, plus the front and rear parking sensors, proximity unlocking and blind spot camera from the VTi-S.

The Civic sedan is a big small car, but feels huge when you're behind the wheel.

It picks up the paddles shifters, digital radio, dual zone climate control and auto headlights from the VTi-L and to this it adds its own RS standard features such as leather seats – heated in the front and the driver's power adjustable, a 10-speaker sound system, LED headlights and foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels, the rear wing and sunroof.

Seeing as the VTi-L is $27,790 it's clear what the $4000 extra is buying you.

Engine and transmission

The RS gets a 127kW/220Nm 1.5-litre four cylinder turbo petrol engine. The top three grades of the Civic sedan line-up share this direct injection engine, all with the same output, so being an RS doesn't bring any more power or higher performance.

A CVT automatic transmission is used across the range.

Fuel consumption

Honda says that the average combined fuel consumption of the 1.5-litre engine in the RS with the CVT is 6.4L/100km. After going through an entire tank I recorded 7.5L/100km with the trip computer.

All engines in the Civic range are perfectly happy running on the budget 91 RON Regular fuel, too.

Driving

The driving position in the RS is excellent. The seat is a bit large but still contoured enough to hug the driver, the pedals have good feel and are positioned well. The good news continues with a great ride even over patchy and rough surfaces. That suspension is on the soft side and there's some sea-sawing over speed bumps, and you'll scuff the front of the car in dips frequently.

The four cylinder engine is good, but the CVT auto seems to dull its personality. It's quite a noisy engine and the CVT makes it drone on a lot, particularly in sport mode.

A standout point was the traction control.

Turbo lag is an issue at times, but when it does arrive the power delivery will make you grin.

The Civic sedan is a big small car, but feels huge when you're behind the wheel. Its nose which dips down to almost sniff the road makes it hard to tell how close you are to what's in front, and the large guards look cool but also make it tricky to tell if you're going to squeeze though gaps.

This lack of 'feel' creates a slight disconnection between the roads, the car and the driver.

A standout point was the traction control – the Civic RS was tested on our test route when the roads were wet. Most front-wheel drive cars struggle to avoid slippage in some sections of the route, particularly on the steep section, but the Civic controlled wheel spin so impressively even with me stabbing the accelerator.

Safety

The new-generation Honda Civic Sedan has yet to be given an ANCAP safety rating, but the previous generation scored the maximum five stars. The lane keeping camera which looks shows you a view of the left side of the car when you indicate left is a good idea, but can also be a distraction if you're not used to it.

The advanced safety equipment such as AEB, the lane keeping system and adaptive cruise control is only standard on the top of the range VTi-LX.

If you're putting in a child seat, you'll find two ISOFIX mounts in the back row and three top-tether anchor points.

Ownership

Honda covers the Civic with a three-year/100,000 new car warranty. The first service should be carried out at 1000km and it's free. Servicing is then required every 10,000km and capped at $281 per service for 100,000km.

Verdict

Honda says that "through real-world evaluation of the world's best cars, as well as luxury European vehicles, Honda engineers were able to define the all-new Civic's targets in ride, handling, steering and NVH performance as well as interior quality and overall refinement."

When asked what those 'world's best cars' were Honda told us the list included Audis A3 and Volkswagen's Golf.

What Honda seems to have built is a car with qualities that are excellent in isolation – it's roomy, practical, easy and comfortable to drive, plus good looking from the front - but all those traits just don't seem to gel together perfectly as a package.

Does the new Civic RS sedan have what it takes to woo you away from a Corolla, Cerato or Mazda3? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Honda Civic RS pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$20,990
Based on 138 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$15,944
Highest Price
$26,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
VTi-L 1.8L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $17,490 – 23,990 2016 Honda Civic 2016 VTi-L Pricing and Specs
VTi-LN 1.8L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $19,990 – 19,999 2016 Honda Civic 2016 VTi-LN Pricing and Specs
VTi-S 1.8L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $17,988 – 21,990 2016 Honda Civic 2016 VTi-S Pricing and Specs
Hybrid 1.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $17,050 – 21,890 2016 Honda Civic 2016 Hybrid Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$19,990

Lowest price, based on 32 car listings in the last 6 months

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