Honda Civic VTi-L 2017 review: snapshot
The VTi-L ($27,790) is not just the mid-point in the five-strong Civic family, but also the first to make use of the pick of the engines, a perky petrol unit helped along by clever turbocharging.
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Have you noticed that wheels have stayed pretty much wheel-shaped since their invention in around 3500 B.C? That's because they do the same good job now as they did way back then, and so, there's really been no need to reinvent them.
Enter, then, the Volkswagen Golf 7.5 - tested here in 110TSI Trendline guise. The Golf 7 was a very good proposition, and the Golf 8 is some way off, so VW has opted for a nip-and-tuck half step, rather than an out-and-out reinvention of its top-selling wheel (see what we did there?).
The biggest giveaway? It looks exactly the same as the Golf 7 it replaces. Well, it's a tiny bit different, but you'd have to have a wardrobe packed to overflowing with anoraks to spot the tweaked headlights and grille, which don't just headline the changes; they are the full extent of them.
|Volkswagen Golf 2017: GTI|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
It might be only a slight refresh, but special mention goes to the sharp and angular headlights, and the strip of daytime running lights beneath them, which forces the design of the car back into the flanks, making the Golf look a touch more focussed. The sharp creases on the bonnet add a sense of performance, too, and join the equally sharp lines running along the body.
Inside, the dash is wrapped in an unbroken piece of soft-touch material, accentuated by a thin strip that does a commendable impersonation of a kind of perforated aluminium, that reappears in the door panels.
All the switches have a quality feel to them, including those on the steering wheel, and while the air-con isn't climate controlled, it is effective in combating Sydney temperatures.
But the highlight in the cabin has to be the wide, black-ringed multimedia system that's clean, unfussy and easy to use. The only downside? Catch it in the wrong light and it looks like a CSI: crime scene, with greasy fingerprints everywhere. The only other downside of the design is that, while the screen's controls are largely integrated, the power and source wheels feel like plastic add-ons, jutting out from the screen like afterthoughts.
In the back, some of the niceties do vanish. The soft-touch materials are replaced with hard plastics, and there's little in the way of creature comforts, but it does still feel nicely put together.
Front seat riders will share two cupholders in the centre console, which really doesn't have room for much else, other than a 12-volt power outlet. You'll also find and aux-in point and USB connection hidden beneath a folding flap that opens to reveal another small storage space below the air-con unit. The front-door pockets are huge, and will happily swallow bottles with storage room left over.
Full disclosure; I like my driving position to be pretty close to the pedals and steering wheel, but even so, there's plenty of room behind the driver's seat in the back. There's clear air between my head and the roof, too, though anyone taller than my 180cm won't be quite so happy.
Elsewhere, there's bottle storage in the rear doors, and two air-con vents (though no controls), but there's a distinct lack of power, USB and aux connections for backseaters. That said, there are two cupholders hidden in a pull-down armrest, which also gives you portal access to the boot, in case you should want to carry skis or something like them.
The Trendline occupies just the second rung on the Golf 7.5 ladder (though it amazingly doesn't look or feel cheap) sitting above only the 110TSI ($23,990 manual, $26,490 auto).
Outside, you'll find 16-inch alloy wheels, LED tail-lights, DRLs at the front, as well as auto headlights and rain-sensing wipers.
Inside, you're reminded this is a cheaper model through the manual air-con controls and cloth seats, but the steering wheel and gear shift are wrapped in leather to help brighten the mood in the cabin.
Emissions are a claimed 128g/km of C02, and the 110TSI Trendline's 50-litre tank will require 95RON fuel.
The short answer? It still feels premium from behind the wheel. And that's the key here.
Yes, its Asian competitors are chasing it down - and fast - but nobody (with the possible exception of Mazda) has yet managed to instill that feeling of Euro quality into the drive experience like the Golf, even in this second from cheapest Trendline. There's a solidness about the way it drives that instills confidence.
It can be a little uncertain in the gearbox at low speeds, but if you adjust your driving style accordingly it soon becomes a non-issue.
It's also surprisingly agile. There's almost no roll through the body, and the well-weighted steering does exactly what it should in corners - even super twisty ones. It's not as fun as the go-fast Golf products, of course, and it's not quite so composed as a GTI or R, but it's far more engaging than its price point might suggest.
But the most impressive thing here is the quality of its ride. There's no way to adjust the suspension settings, but it is always comfortable to bomb around in - no small achievement given the abysmal quality of most of this country's B-roads.
Downsides? It can be a little uncertain in the gearbox at low speeds, and the lag under hard acceleration is an enduring annoyance, but if you adjust your driving style accordingly it soon becomes a non-issue. Oh, and while there's very little road noise, which does (weirdly) open the door for engine noise to invade the cabin.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Basic safety is covered by seven airbags (dual front, front-side and curtain, along with a driver's knee bag) and the usual suite of braking and traction aids, including ABS, multi-collision braking and stability control.
There's some big-ticket safety items thrown into the deal, too. You'll get AEB, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera with grid lines, and a driver fatigue detection system all as standard.
VW's website shows service costs (for the first three years, at least) at between $318 and $507 per trip to the dealership.
Small changes are enough to keep the Golf brand humming along here, and we'd venture that, if it's not the benchmark in the segment, it's certainly duking it out with the very best of them.
|110 TDI Highline||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP||$22,888 – 29,990||2017 Volkswagen Golf 2017 110 TDI Highline Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$17,990 – 21,990||2017 Volkswagen Golf 2017 110 TSI Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI Comfortline||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$16,977 – 22,999||2017 Volkswagen Golf 2017 110 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI Highline||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$17,990 – 32,940||2017 Volkswagen Golf 2017 110 TSI Highline Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||7|