Honda Civic VS Toyota Corolla
- Looks are good (or bad)
- Suspension and steering are both terrific
- Plenty of legroom in the rear seat
- CVT drones at pace
- Standard safety lacking on base models
- RS is noisy on the wrong road surfaces
- Great value
- Big boot
- Good rear legroom
- Not as sexy as the hatch
- Hard cabin plastics
- Parking sensors not standard
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?
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Do you have a sibling that seems to get all the attention? Feel like you’re playing second fiddle to a superstar? Want one chance to prove you can do everything they can do and more?
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
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.
The Corolla sedan is for those who want affordable, safe, modern and easy driving with great boot space and good legroom in the rear seats. Perfect for ride share drivers, small families, new drivers and those looking to downsize. With the Corolla hatch no longer offering much practicality in a small car, it’s time for the Corolla sedan to step in and shine.
As for a sweet spot, the Ascent Sport Hybrid is the definite pick - it picks up extra features over the petrol version and comes with real-world fuel savings, too.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
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.
Small sedans rarely look good - that seems to be one of the rules of design only broken occasionally by the likes of cars such as the Audi A3. The Corolla sedan isn’t as stunning as the A3 but it is good looking and much more attractive that the generation before it.
The sedan wears the same angry bird face as the Corolla hatch with the super pointy nose and the sleek headlights. I’m a fan of the treatment given to the rear – a refined, grown-up design.
The sedan’s cabin is also a match for the hatch and while the clean design of the dash (now less cluttered with buttons) is pleasing, the widespread use of hard plastics isn’t.
That said, as with all Toyotas, the Corolla feels well-built, while the fit of panels and components appears superb.
Want the dimensions? The Corolla sedan is 4630mm long, 1780mm wide, 1435mm tall with a wheelbase of 2700mm. In comparison the Corolla hatch is 4375mm long, with a wheelbase of 2640mm, 1790mm wide and the same height.
Buyers can choose from colours such as 'Glacier White', 'Crystal Pearl', 'Silver Pearl', 'Ink', 'Wildfire', 'Volcanic Red' and 'Lunar Blue.'
Telling the grades apart is tricky, so look for the wheels – the ZR has 18-inch alloys, while the Ascent Sport and ZX have 16-inch alloys, and the hybrid versions have 15-inch alloys with aerodynamic covers.
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.
One of the few criticisms of the new-gen Corolla hatch was that rear legroom and the boot’s cargo capacity had been reduced compared to the previous model.
The sedan offers more legroom than the hatch and even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with space to spare (even headroom is good). As for boot space the cargo capacity of the sedan 470 litres – much more than the 333 litres.
Cabin storage is also good with four cupholders (two in the back and two up front), decent-sized door pockets, a deep centre console bin and a large shelf in front of the shifter which doubles as a wireless charging pad in the hybrid along with the SX and ZR grades.
All grades come standard with a 12-volt outlet and a USB port.
So, for practicality the sedan outshines the hatch. There is no way I can sit in the second row of the hatch behind my driving position and the boot in that car rules it out as a family vehicle.
Price and features
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.
The new-generation Corolla sedan has arrived more than a year after its hatchback sibling. Pricing for the sedan matches the hatch grade-for-grade.
The range kicks off with the Ascent Sport which with a petrol engine and manual gearbox lists for $23,335 before on-road costs (add $1500 for the CVT auto) and above these is the a hybrid variant for the first time at $26,335.
The SX sits in the middle of the range and the petrol auto lists for $28,235 while the hybrid is $1500 more. The ZR is the range topper with its list price of $33,635 and it’s only available with a petrol engine and auto transmission.
Standard features on the Ascent Sport include: LED headlights, tail-lights and daytime running lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, an 8.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, fabric seats, air-conditioning, and six-speaker stereo.
The hybrid Ascent Sport adds climate control, proximity unlocking and 15-inch alloys.
The ZR gains some luxury touches in the form of heated sport seats up front, synthetic leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, head-up display and ambient lighting.
Engine & trans
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.
The Corolla sedan comes with a choice of petrol engine and, new with this update, a hybrid system.
The petrol variant has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 125kW/200Nm. The entry grade Ascent Sport gives buyers a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT auto. Grades above the Ascent Sport only come with the auto.
The hybrid combines a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (72kW/142Nm) and an electric motor (53kW/163Nm). A CVT auto does the honours here, too.
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.
Let’s start with the petrol Corolla sedan first – Toyota says that after a combination of open and urban roads it should use 6.0L/100km with the automatic transmission and 6.5 with the manual gearbox.
The hybrid (which is front-wheel drive only) is the mileage hero with Toyota saying the combined fuel economy is 3.5L/100km.
At the Australian launch of the Corolla sedan I drove the hybrid Ascent Sport from Melbourne through peak hour traffic then 97km north along motorways and country roads.
When we arrived at our regional Victoria destination the trip computer told me the car had use at average of 3.9L/100km. The fuel economy of a petrol Ascent Sport driven by a colleague on the same route was 7.5L/100km.
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.
The Corolla sedan sits on the same new platform as the hatch and it’s the reason while both these cars ride, steer and handle better than pretty much any of their competitors.
A wonderfully comfortable and composed ride that would be the envy of the some more prestige brands is the standout feature of the Corolla sedan.
Visibility is a little bit obstructed by the long pillars either side of the windscreen, but we’re clutching at straws here. It’s difficult to fault this small sedan from behind the wheel.
Look that 2.0-litre engine is a bit ordinary in that it’s a little dull when matched to the CVT, so if you’re somebody who likes to get more involved in the driving then the manual gearbox offered on the Ascent sport could be the way to go.
Personally, my pick is the hybrid Ascent Sport. A hybrid in a Corolla makes complete sense – the fuel savings are absolutely real and it’s more fun to drive with the way the electric motor offers little nudges of torque when you dab the accelerator while cruising.
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).
The entire Civic range was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The Corolla hatch scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2018. Coming standard across the range is advanced safety equipment such as AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assistance, auto high beam, lane trace assist with lane centring and speed sign recognition.
All Corolla Sedans also come with seven airbags and a reversing camera.
Stepping up to the SX adds blind spot monitoring, while the ZR brings a head up display.
For child seats there are three top tether points and two ISOFIX points across the second row.
Missing here are front and rear parking sensors – these are a dealer fitted option. I think this is outrageous. They should be standard.
The Corolla sedan is covered by Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Hybrid versions are also covered by the same warranty including the battery.
Servicing of the petrol and hybrid variants is recommended annually or every 15,000km with the first four services capped at $175.