Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

You are here

Honda Civic VTi-L sedan 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the 2016 Honda Civic VTi-L sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Tim Robson road tests and reviews the 2016 Honda Civic VTi-L sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

The 1970s was an era where locally made Fords, Holdens and Chryslers dominated the highways and suburbs of Australia, and small Japanese brands were regarded with some skepticism.

Among those brands was Honda. It was an occasionally rocky road for the Civic which launched in 1973, but by the 1990s it was a consistent top ten seller, and a well-regarded choice for a small car. 

Fast forward to the global financial crisis of the 2000s - and Honda's crucial mistake in battening down the hatches, stopping all research and development as well as product development, saw it fall behind other car makers who chose to ride out the storm.

Slowly, though, Honda is fighting back, and even though it's late to the party, the tenth-generation Civic is finally a step in the right direction. But is it too little, too late?

Design

Stylewise, Honda has thrown caution to the four winds with an overt, almost concept-car approach to the exterior of the new Civic sedan.

It's long and low, with a riot of curves and strakes front and rear and amazing head and taillight treatments for a small production car.

The dash manages to look simple yet futuristic, with subdued colours and lots of angular lines giving the Civic a real sports car feel.

High sides lead to a small glasshouse area, while the pronounced guards and machined alloys of our VTi-L tester shout concept car.

Inside it's a similar story, though it's not quite as full on. The dash manages to look simple yet futuristic, with subdued colours and lots of angular lines giving the Civic a real sports car feel.

The instruments in front of the driver are lined with LEDs and the multimedia screen is well integrated into the centre console, while the seats themselves are neatly styled in a dark fabric.

The interior feel is cruelled, though, by an overuse of hard-surface plastic right the way across the dash and around the instrument binnacle. The door-mounted armrests and centre console are soft to touch, but the door sills themselves are hard, as well.

Practicality

The Civic started life as a diminutive three-door hatchback, but has morphed into a much larger four-door sedan. That first car, for example, was just 3551mm long – the new one is more than a metre longer at 4644mm, and almost twice as heavy (680kg versus 1331kg).

One thing that has come from the increase in size is more interior room – and the newest Civic sedan could give Dr Who's Tardis a run for its money. Compared to the slightly shorter Mazda3 sedan, for example, the Civic's 950mm is almost four centimetres greater, and it feels it.

Not only is the legroom good, but the head and shoulder room for two rear seat passengers is good, and three kids across the back isn't too much of a squeeze.

The instruments are clear and easy to read, with a large digital central tacho with a large speed readout.

Speaking of sprogs, there are two ISOFIX points in the rear, as well, while the seats themselves are 60/40 split fold. There are seat back releases in the boot, but they don't actually flip the seats forward and down, which is a bit pointless.

The instruments are clear and easy to read, with a large digital central tacho with a large speed readout. Most major functions on the car can be controlled through the multimedia screen and the steering-wheel mounted buttons, though there are additional climate functions hidden on the screen rather than incorporated into the dials on the console.

The centre console bin is deep, uses a sliding lid and houses two cupholders, and there is a place for a phone forward of the gear shifter. It's all well thought out and easy to use.

There are another two cupholders in the rear centre armrest, while bottles can be slid into all four door pockets.

The multimedia system uses Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and features not only two USB ports but an HDMI port, as well. There's digital radio built in, but no sat nav.

Price and features

Starting at $27,790, the VTi-L is the first of the new Civic line to score the company's new, very clever 1.5-litre four-cylinder turborcharged engine, which is backed by a continuously variable auto transmission.

It scores fabric trim, front and rear sensors and a reversing camera, a leather wrapped steering wheel, dual zone climate control, auto wipers and halogen headlights, electronic park brake, the aforementioned digital dash and smartphone-ready multimedia system and 17-inch alloys.

There's also a lane-watching camera mounted on the left door mirror that shows the Civic's blind spot in live time when changing lanes.

Unfortunately, you have to step up to the next model to get Honda's so-called Sensing system, which includes AEB, lane departure warning and lane keeping.

Engine and transmission

Honda is best known for its high-revving naturally aspirated four-potters, but the company's engineers know their collective way around turbocharging, thanks to its range of Japanese-market micro cars – oh, and its current Formula One experience might have given them a few clues too.

The new L15B7 four-cylinder engine is 1.5-litres in capacity, and uses a small turbocharger with an electronically controlled wastegate to make 127kW and 220Nm.

The Civic Turbo is surprisingly spritely and urgent at first blush, with an eager, peppy suspension tune and a real alacrity to its engine.

The little direct-injection motor is packed with trickery, including an exhaust manifold that's actually incorporated inside the cylinder head and cooled via the cylinder head water jackets.

The only transmission choice for the entire Civic line-up is a CVT auto, which in the VTi-L also offers paddle shifters that mimics the action of a sequential gearbox, if not the actual gear changes.

Fuel consumption

Honda rates the Civic VTi-L at 6.0L/100km on the combined fuel economy cycle. It can use 91RON fuel, too, another sign of the sophistication of the 1.5-litre engine.

Our 230km test saw a dash-indicated fuel figure of 6.2L/100km.

Driving

The Civic Turbo is surprisingly spritely and urgent at first blush, with an eager, peppy suspension tune and a real alacrity to its engine.

Spend a little more time with it, though, and that pep in its step reveals itself to be less enjoyable as the kilometres roll by.

The Civic's suspension has been set up to be more active when the chassis is returning from a compression (on the other side of a speed hump, for example). Known as rebound control, the Civic simply doesn't have enough of it to keep itself settled and composed on even slightly broken roads.

It's a nice thing to drive otherwise, with firm brakes, good visibility, great noise suppression and a pleasing turn of pace for a small car.

As a result, it imparts too many small movements back into the cabin, which in turn is felt by the occupants – and usually not for the better.

Its steering set-up sports a measure of steering assistance, as well as a faster-geared steering rack than before. While it's certainly more nimble –torque vectoring helps the front end to tuck into corners, too – it can also feel a bit excitable and overdone, especially when making that initial steering motion (what car journos call 'off centre').

It's a shame, because it's a nice thing to drive otherwise, with firm brakes, good visibility, great noise suppression and a pleasing turn of pace for a small car.

Safety

The Civic scores a maximum of five ANCAP stars, thanks to six airbags, a three-zone reversing camera, emergency brake assist and a blindspot camera.

Ownership

Honda offers a capped price service program for the Civic, which guarantees that each 10,000km service up to 100,000km will cost $281.

Fuel filters, pollen filters, brake fluid and spark plugs aren't included, though.

The Civic carries a three-year, 100,000km warranty.

Verdict

The Civic is a quantum leap forward in style and performance in almost every area, though the clever interior looks underdone in the VTi-L's lower spec and the suspension tune can feel too busy.

Will the bold strategy drag the car back into consideration against its well-established competition? Only time will tell.

Would you buy a Civic VTi-L over a Mazda3 SP25 sedan? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Honda Civic VTi-L 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
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

Share

Pricing Guide

$16,880

Lowest price, based on 27 car listings in the last 6 months

View cars for sale