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Honda Civic


Honda Accord

Summary

Honda Civic

If you think the new Civic Hatch looks a little lower-slung than its sedan sibling, that can likely be attributed to the crushing weight of expectation placed on its little metal shoulders.

See, this 10th-gen Civic might be the most important car Honda has ever made. While most manufacturers were pouring funds into their SUV ranges, Honda was diverting a huge chunk (heavily tipped to be a whopping 35 per cent) of their research and development budget into the Civic, using the evergreen nameplate as a key pin in their Australian comeback.

And with that much riding on it, it had to be good. In sedan form, which launched here last year, it mostly lived up to the hype, with Honda shifting more than 800 units per month. And with the Civic hatch finally touching down in Australia, Honda is hoping to add 1000 sales to the tally. 

So the question now is, does this new hatch version shine, too?

Safety rating
Engine Type1.8L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
Seating5 seats

Honda Accord

Twenty-five years ago I was the only kid at church who read car magazines. Nobody was interested unless the subject was a Patrol, Pajero or HiLux (it was Sydney's Sutherland Shire) and even then, they only wanted to know if they could tow a tinnie with it.

Every now and again someone would approach me and ask me for advice on a car that wasn't a ute, and then buy a car we didn't even talk about. They would politely return my magazines, though, which was nice.

Anyway, the point of that story is that one of the cars one of these nice people bought was the Honda Legend. It was a lovely thing - so quiet, so smooth, so cool. Well, not cool in the hip to the groove sense, but in the easygoing Palm Springs kind of cool.

And the point of telling you that is it turns out that they still make that car, only it's not called the Legend anymore, it's called the Honda Accord V6L. Costs less, too.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.4L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.2L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Honda Civic7/10

Energetic and engaging (if not quite sporty), the Civic hatch is quiet and comfortable around town, but it can more than hold its own on a twisting backroad, too. It’s looks will either appeal or not, but a lack of comprehensive safety equipment on the cheaper models is sure to ruffle some feathers.

For us, the cheapest way into the turbocharged engine forms the pick of the bunch, so we'd call the VTi-L the sweet spot. 


Honda Accord7.1/10

The Legend is long gone but the Accord seems have taken up the mantle. When you compare it to its immediate and most obvious competition there's plenty of gear aboard, and while the other cars are good, none - except maybe the new Camry V6 - have the same appeal of cubic inches, tidy handling with a terrific ride and manners better than a June Dally-Watkins graduate.

While the engine and transmission may not be bang-up-to-date, and there's, uh, fake wood inside, the Accord V6L is a fine car that carries on a tradition of big, cushy Hondas.

The Accord is a classic nameplate in a shrinking - but still busy - segment. Is it on your list? Tell us in the comments below.

Design

Honda Civic8/10

The word 'polarising' is usually a thinly disguised way of saying 'lots of people don’t like it'. And the all-new Civic sedan was, well, very polarising. A glance at this new hatch version shows it hasn’t strayed too far from that design approach, either.

It’s as understated as a snakeskin suit in all grades, but nowhere is it quite so busy as in the RS trim level, in which the sporty trimmings jump out from every possible angle. Strangely, though, we quite like the way it looks, and it's undeniably an individual in the small car segment. 

Inside, Honda has produced the comfortable and tech savvy interior that was missing from the outgoing model, but the sense of well executed semi-premium fades as you approach the spartan rear seat.


Honda Accord7/10

The Accord's design has been with us for over four years now. It's one of Honda's more restrained efforts, with fewer mad lines, flourishes and creases than other models. That doesn't mean it isn't without some interesting details, though.

The headlights look great up close, with each unit looking like a set of teeth has been installed, giving the impression of a grille when illuminated. Its profile is fairly normal, and apart from a slightly heavy-handed rear end, the Accord's exterior is quietly elegant.

Inside, it's remains toned down. Instruments and switchgear will be familiar to owners of pretty much any car in the Honda range, with bits from here and there making up a simple, user-friendly cabin. Apart from the stacked screens.

Practicality

Honda Civic7/10

The Civic hatch is surprisingly spacious in the cabin, where up front the two seats are split buy a central bin housing two of the fattest, deepest cupholders we’ve ever seen (that would be America’s 'Big Gulp' influence on the Civic’s design), along with a hidden USB and power source that sits behind the centre console, hiding the ugly chords while you’re plugged into touchscreen unit.

The back seat, is plenty spacious in the longer and wider hatch - which also sits on a 30mm longer wheelbase than the outgoing car - with more shoulder, leg and knee room for backseat riders.

Which is just as well, as there’s not much else happening back there, with no air vents, power outlets or USB points on offer, with just the two cupholders housed in a pulldown divider that separates the rear seat.

Boot space is pegged at 414 litres with the 60/40 split rear seat in place, which is enough to give the Civic hatch the edge over its direct competitors in the Hyundai i30, VW Golf and Mazda3.


Honda Accord7/10

Cabin-dwellers enjoy four cupholders, two up front and two in the rear, plus a bottle holder in each door. There is plenty of space for four, with good head and legroom front and back, with just the irritating foot-operated parking brake ruining the driver's footwell.

Cargo capacity starts with a 457-litre boot and you can drop the rear seatback for extra space, or use the ski port. That boot capacity is among the best in the segment but unfortunately, the seatback doesn't split and the aperture is really narrow when the space is open.

Price and features

Honda Civic6/10

Thanks to what Honda refers to as its “One Civic” philosophy, this new hatch lineup perfectly mirrors the sedan range that was launched here last year, with the only major change being the ‘Ring-burning Type R, which will be hatch-only when it arrives later in 2017.

And that means the five-strong Hatch range kicks off with the entry-level VTi ($22,390) before stepping up to the VTi-S ($24,490) and the VTi-L ($27,790). Next up is the sport-sprinkled RS ($32,290), before the range tops out with the high-flying VTi-LX ($33,590).

Entry-level shoppers will make do 16-inch steel wheels, fabric seats and single-zone climate control, but there are some nice and premium-feeling flourishes, like LED DRLs, a 7.0-inch touchscreen that’s now Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-equipped and a second colour screen in the driver’s binnacle for your trip information.

Stepping up to the VTi-S adds 16-inch alloy wheels, integrated LED indicators in your wing mirrors and proximity locking and unlocking, along with some clever safety stuff we’ll come back to under the Safety heading.

Along with a better engine (more on that in a moment), springing for the VTi-L will earn you 17-inch alloy wheels, twin-zone climate control and automatic windows in both rows, while the sporty-flavoured RS adds LED fog and headlights, along with a hearty dose of sporty styling courtesy of a bumper kit, skirting and a liberal splashing of piano black highlights.

Inside the RS gets leather trimmed seats, a better 10-speaker stereo and and a standard sunroof, too. 

Finally, the range-topping Civic - the VTi-LX - gets satellite navigation, and a fairly comprehensive suite of safety kit.


Honda Accord7/10

At first glance, $52,290 seems a bit rich for a car of this age and stature, but there's a long list of standard equipment.

Your V6L arrives with 18-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker stereo with 7.7-inch media touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, electric windows and seats, reversing camera, side vision camera, keyless entry and start, automatic active LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, active cruise control, sat nav, leather seats and trim, auto wipers, woodgrain dash and door trims, sunroof and a full-size alloy spare.

The 7.7-inch touchscreen runs the stereo which includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and in-built sat nav. A second screen higher in the dash displays car information, and the camera views, and it's odd.

Engine & trans

Honda Civic7/10

Like the sedan version, there are two engine choices on offer, with the cheaper option a 1.8-litre petrol engine, good for 104kW at 6500rpm and 174Nm at 4300rpm found in the VTi and VTi-S trim levels.

The better option, though, is a perky turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine that will push 127kW at 5500rpm and 220Nm at 1700rpm to the front tyres.

Both engines are partnered with a CVT automatic transmission, with or without wheel-mounted shifters, depending on the trim level.


Honda Accord7/10

As the name implies, the V6L sports a V6 engine. The 3.5-litre unit develops 206kW/339Nm, and it's a revver. Joined to a six-speed automatic, it drives the front wheels.

This is not a bang up-to-date engine - it's not even a twin-cam, and there isn't any turbo action. But goodness is it smooth.

Fuel consumption

Honda Civic8/10

Fuel use is pretty impressive across the board, with the 1.8-litre engine sipping a claimed combined 6.4-litres per hundred kilometres, while the turbocharged version needs just 6.2 litres on the same cycle. 

Emissions are pegged at 150 and 142 grams per kilometre of C02 respectively.


Honda Accord6/10

Honda reckons that on the combined cycle you'll get 9.3L/100km and send 216g/km of CO2 into the atmosphere. Our time with the car returned 12.7L/100km in a fair bit of traffic, and a run right across Sydney and back on motorways.

Driving

Honda Civic7/10

Honda struggles a little in explaining  exactly what its new 1.5-litre turbo-powered Civic is.

Is it a hot hatch? Nope, the incoming Type R will handle those duties. Oh, so it's a warm hatch, then? Not really - it's mechanically identical (same engine, gearbox and suspension) to the other, top-tier Civics. In fact, only the brand of tyres seperate the RS from the more luxurious VTi-LX.

"We would say it's a 'sporting hatch'," says Honda's head honcho, Stephen Collins.

And sporting it is, with its clever turbocharged 1.5-litre engine a willing and perky unit, delivering plenty of oomph all over the rev range and with no noticeable, soul-destroying lag in its power delivery. 

The steering, too, has a sporty flavouring, it's super direct, and offers such crisp direction changes that you have to pay keen attention driving, as even the slightest input will see you steering out of your lane. And while the ride is a little crashy through bumps, it pays you back with composed cornering antics that see the front wheels hanging on to the tarmac for much longer than you might expect.

But the best trick of the 1.5-litre engine is that it doesn't require much accelerator to make it move, which means there's never too much strain on the CVT auto in town. And, given the auto is both loud and intrusive when you ask too much of it, that can only be a good thing.

Like most CVT 'boxes, it's quiet and composed in city driving, but loud and with a tendency to surge when you start to test it. So much so that heavy acceleration requires a kind of lucky dip as to when to back off the throttle, with the Civic continuing to accelerate for a moment or so even once you get off the gas.

Happily, then, the 1.8-litre models are much easier to classify. They're the cheap ones.

It's a a simple, honest and hardworking engine that feels both slower and slower to respond than its newer, turbocharged sibling, but is more than capable of getting up to speed, even if it struggles to add pace from the mid-range onward.


Honda Accord7/10

Barry White. Whipped King Island cream. The opposite of Shane Warne. This car is smooth. Few engines this side of an electric are as quiet as the Honda's uncomplicated V6. Even though the power is high up in the rev range, it never feels like a struggle in the Accord.

Around town it's a proper easy-rider, with a soft, squishy ride and a deathly quiet cabin. The lowish profile tyre that probably should be a bit obnoxious keep to themselves, too.

There's a distinctly American feel to the suspension as well as the steering. Not everyone likes light steering - me included - but it does mean progress is very relaxed. The steering weights up on the freeway, and that's where you spot the only gap in the Accord's defensive line. Most of the time the ride is completely sorted, but hit a bump or an Aussie motorway's typically sorry excuse for an expansion joint and you get a jolt through the cabin. It doesn't happen very often, it's just a surprise when it does.

Passengers do love the quiet cabin, though, and rear seat passengers report having tons of room even if they're north of 183cm (six foot) tall. The welcome addition of air-conditioning vents and window blinds make it a nice place in summer, too.

Safety

Honda Civic6/10

While some of its key competitor are throwing safety functions at all trim levels, with Honda it’s still sadly a case of you get what you pay for.

The entry-level VTi, for example, makes do with six airbags (front, front-side and curtain) and a 180-degree reversing camera, opting for the VTi-S, VTi-L or RS adds front and rear parking sensors and Honda’s cool 'LaneWatch' (with activates a side-mounted camera when you indicate, beaming an image of the lane running alongside the lefthand-side of the car up onto the 7.0-inch screen).

Spring for the top-spec VTi-LX, however, and Honda’s complete 'Sensing Suite' arrives as standard, adding AEB, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist and active cruise control.

The entire Civic range was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.


Honda Accord8/10

Honda wasn't mucking about when it put together the safety specs, with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep steering assistance and trailer sway control.

Honda also fits 'LaneWatch', a tricky little camera that hangs off the passenger side rear vision mirror that gives you a view down inside of the car to help stop you wiping out cyclists or pedestrians when you're turning left.

Ownership

Honda Civic7/10

The Honda Civic is covered by the brand’s three year/100,000km warranty, requiring servicing every 10,000km or 12 months, Your annual service cost is capped at $843 for the first three years.


Honda Accord8/10

Honda usually offers a pretty impressive five year/unlimited kilometre warranty. At the time of writing (December 2017), the Accord was shipping with a seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Both come with roadside assist for the same length as the warranty.

Honda's 'Tailored Service' program covers the first five years or 100,000km. Costing $3299, the average cost of a service is $330, with a lowest price of $273 and the final service $700. There's a sting in the tail, though - if there's a bit of a racket under the bonnet, you might have to cop another $556 to adjust valve clearances and at 80,000km you'll have to swallow $285 for a fuel filter.

Honda expects a visit from you twice a year or every 10,000km, whichever comes first.