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Honda Civic VTi-S sedan 2016 review

Honda's 10th generation Civic seemed a long time coming
EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the Honda Civic VTi-S sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the Honda Civic VTi-S sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Honda's 10th generation Civic seemed a long time coming - the previous model appeared to have fallen off the face of the Earth sales-wise, being comprehensively outgunned by Mazda, VW and Hyundai. Look at its history, however, and it was only with us for the standard four years.

So it seems like it's not a moment too soon for Honda's long-serving small car, now rolling on Honda's new global platform, to be reborn. And this one offers new tech, a new engine and a whole new body.

Price and features

The VTi-S sits one step from the bottom of the range, which starts at $22,390 for the VTi and stretches through to $33,590 for the VTi-LX, via VTi-L and RS. The S is one of only two models to run Honda's 1.8-litre naturally aspirated four cylinder, the rest of the range above it sporting the smaller and better 1.5-litre turbo.

Things calm down in the interior, which is very thoughtfully designed and well put together.

For the VTi-S' asking price of $24,490, you get 16-inch alloy wheels, an eight-speaker stereo, climate control, reversing camera, left-side camera, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, front fog lamps, keyless entry and start, leather steering wheel, variable ratio power steering and cloth trim.

The stereo is run by a seven-inch touch screen that also incorporates CarPlay and Android Auto. Frustratingly, my experience with CarPlay was inconsistent. Sometimes I could step into the car and it would work no problem, but next time the system would refuse to recognise the phone. It wasn't just one phone or cable and it's entirely possible it was just restricted to this car with a dodgy connector (testing of other models revealed bad news - it wasn't)

Options are limited to paint choice and pearl paint will add $575 to the price, as it did for our test car, which ended up at $25,065.

Design

Like the eighth and ninth generation Civic hatches, Civic 10's sedan is a shape that gets people talking. In profile, it's low and long, with a fashionably coupe-like roofline not too dissimilar to Hyundai's new Elantra, with the same net effect of lengthening the look of the car.

Front and rear on, though, is where the controversy starts. Neither end is well resolved and both appear to hang off the car as clip-on additions rather than being built as a whole. It's a shame, given the excellent start of the profile, but there's just a lot going on. The taillights are especially unpleasant and out of proportion.

Things calm down in the interior, which is very thoughtfully designed and well put together. Sensible material choices lend a quality feel to the interior, although the door skins feel a bit like a wetsuit.

  • 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S. 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S.
  • 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S. 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S.
  • 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S. 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S.
  • 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S. 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S.
  • 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S. 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S.
  • 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S. 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S.
  • 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S. 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S.
  • 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S. 2016 Honda Civic VTi-S.

The instruments are split into three sections and are a bit weird, but then Honda has form for unusual dash layouts. The central section is a fully digital unit, combining speed, revs and critical information as well as switchable info like stereo, seatbelts and fuel consumption. The temperature and fuel gauges are isolated on either side with garish, angular metal-look gauges, and they look all alone in a lot of darkness.

Other than that, things are pretty good inside, if basic. The cloth trim seems hardy but feels nice. The Civic loses marks for limited adjustment of the front passenger seat and an uncomfortable, over-stuffed seat back for the front seats.

Practicality

The new Civic might have a swoopy, coupe-like roofline, but it's quite roomy inside, with plenty of storage.

There are four cupholders, the pair up front set deep in the centre console, and all will swallow a wide range of containers. Each door will also hold a bottle of reasonable size, although the rear holders are limited to 500ml units. 

The USB port is rather out of the way in a shelf under the dash, but Honda thoughtfully created a cut-out to thread the cable through so you can put your phone on the top shelf or in the cupholders, meaning your cables aren't in the way or flying free.

Boot volume is a considerable 519 litres and the seats flop forward, however wide items may not fit, as the aperture narrows.

Engine and transmission

The VTi and VTi-S are both powered by a 1.8-litre naturally aspirated four cylinder, producing 104kW and 174Nm. All Civics run the company's continuously variable transmission with Normal, Sport and Low modes.

It's a fairly basic engine and the numbers reflect that. The turbo 1.5-litre in the other VTi-L and up claims lower fuel usage (around 10 percent) while delivering around 25 percent more power and torque. It’s cheap old-tech versus new, basically.

Fuel consumption

Honda says you'll get 6.4L/100km on the combined cycle, we got 8.3L/100km in mostly flowing city and suburban driving.

There's no stop-start or energy recovery to reduce fuel use, so it's not a terrible number by any stretch.

Driving

Behind the wheel, the Civic is a very competent machine. There's nothing outstanding to note, just a clean if soft feel to the steering and a good highway ride. The ride quality deteriorates over high-frequency surfaces, with lots of sharp vertical movement, without the usual trade-off of flat cornering. This isn't the first Civic to ride like this, and seems unlikely to be the last.

The 1.8 litre is a smooth, unstressed and quiet unit and despite the power coming high in the rev range, at 6500rpm, it's not peaky. Torque arrives a bit earlier at 4500rpm, but the transmission helps keep things on the boil. 

Normally this is the bit where I complain about the CVT letting the car down but for once, I'm going to be even-handed. Honda has worked to have a foot in both camps, with little evidence of the mower-engine effect, unless you really plant it. It behaves largely like a normal automatic when you're pootling about, and only goes full rubber-band when you're going hard, which isn’t why you’d buy this car anyway.

There's little power to manage and that's where this type of transmission shines. Added to that, it's quiet and reasonably smooth, no matter what you're doing, the engine noise more prominent at high revs. Compared to Subaru's CVT, the Honda's is miles ahead and suits this engine quite well.

The driving experience is let down by the uncomfortable front seats - support is good laterally and under the legs, but the seat back itself is set a bit flat and there's no adjustment for lumbar support. 

Safety

The Civic ships with six airbags, ABS, traction and stability controls and brake-force distribution.

Additionally, there's Honda's LaneWatch, a small camera that hangs off the passenger-side mirror and shows you what's happening down that side of the car. Cyclists will surely appreciate this feature as it lets the driver see them if they're there when the driver activates the left-turn indicator. It's also switchable via a stalk-mounted button.

ANCAP and EuroNCAP are yet to award a safety rating for the new Civic.

Ownership

Honda supplies a three-year/100,000km warranty but no roadside assist unless you pay extra for Warranty Plus. 

Service pricing is published on the Honda website and you'll need to visit the dealer every 10,000km or 12 months. Up until 100,000km the vast majority of services are $284, with the 80,000km service coming in at $312.

These prices are exclusive of certain items such as brake fluid, various filters and spark plugs, again all prices are available on the website.

Verdict

The 10th generation Civic is a solid effort, taking on the Elantra, 3 and Corolla in a small but hard-fought market niche. It's a good, reasonably priced package but there's nothing shout-out amazing about it. Some of the details are better than its competitors, but then they come back with superior dynamics, more power or an extra inclusion. Honda can also claim a long racing heritage and current involvement in Formula 1. Only Renault can match that boast that at as far as mainstream car makers go.

At this price-conscious end of the market, it's those little things that sway the punter. If Honda's lucky, things like LaneWatch, a big boot and the Honda badge will have buyers beating down the door, and ignoring the odd styling. If they're unlucky, this Civic will get eaten by Hyundai.

Would you pick the Civic over the Elantra or Corolla? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Honda Civic 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 $17,490 – 22,110 2016 Honda Civic 2016 Hybrid Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$15,990

Lowest price, based on 42 car listings in the last 6 months

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