Combing the small car market for the ‘perfect’ car can be a daunting task, especially with a seeming bazillion to choose from - the top-selling Mazda3, VW Golf, Toyota Corolla, Holden Cruze, Hyundai i30 and Ford Focus (to name just a few).
Sent from Thailand, the ninth-generation Civic sedan tested here joins this teeming mass, as Honda aims to strengthen their credentials down under and regain ground lost after the 2011 Thailand floods. But does this little sedan have what it takes to stand out in this crowd?
Explore the 2013 Honda Civic Range
If you’re tossing up between the Civic sedan and hatch, here are some things to consider. Starting from $20,490 the base model VTi sedan is similarly priced to the base model hatch at $20,650 (with $2000 recently chopped off its price).
And the mid spec VTi-L sedan is priced at $23,990, $1500 less than the mid spec hatch. Until this year Bluetooth connectivity wasn’t available in the base model hatch, so if you’re looking at 2012 models this is something to consider. Annoyingly the sedan model doesn’t have a hill holder like the hatch variants.
The Civic sedan gets a three year 100,000km warranty and is kitted with 12V auxiliary sockets, four speaker audio system, MP3/WMA compatible CD player, USB connectivity, steering wheel mounted controls, cruise control, coloured multi function screen and trip computer, keyless entry, chrome grille surround and remote boot release.
The mid spec VTi-L gets 16 inch alloy wheels compared to the VTi’s 15 inch steel wheels and also receives on/off headlights, a chrome gear shifter and a temporary spare.
Both variants have a smooth 1.8 litre four cylinder engine with 104kW of power and 174Nm of torque. We drove both the five speed sports auto and five speed manual driving through the front wheels.
It comes with an eco button to reduce fuel consumption but you’ll want to switch that off to get the car really going. The combined fuel economy is 6.8L/100Km and the urban is 8.9L/100km. We only drove the Civic in the city, an appropriate environment for a small sedan and gained 9.4L/100km.
We prefer the exterior looks of the Civic hatch, as it comes with attractive daytime running lights that give the small car a more aggressive look. But the sedan option is cheaper and has attractive sweeping lines, a chrome grille and the VTi-L's 16 inch alloy wheels are impressive.
On the inside the light grey seat upholstery, thought by our passengers as “styled by grandma” is outdated and doesn’t suit the modern dashboard with up-to-date features like push start button and speed dependent display. But on a positive note everything is laid out well on the dashboard and the equipment is simple to use.
The interior space is appropriate for a small family but long-legged teenagers probably won’t appreciate the back seat space. The sedan gets 40 extra litres of boot space compared to the hatch’s 400 litre capacity.
It comes with dual driver and passenger airbags, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control with passive steer assist, traction control and engine immobiliser.
The Civic sedan has excellent sound insulation, as hardly any road noise enters the cabin. The suspension is also worth a mention, as it glides well over bumpy roads.
Both the auto and manual only come with five gears that don’t handle speeds over 80km/h well, so a sixth gear would come in handy on highways. And the auto often doesn’t shift gears well, resulting in reduced power. We recommend the manual, as you’ll have a more enjoyable drive. The manual gear box is precise with easy to find gears that change smoothly.
The sedan is a good contender in the small car market, trampling its sibling the Honda City sedan in drive train and exterior looks. While there is room for improvement, especially in regards to interior styling, the Civic sedan makes up for it in price, comfort and drivetrain.