Still The Class Leader?
The Honda Civic has been a solid choice for a long time now. Since its launch in 2016, the 10th generation Civic has quickly became a staple on Philippine roads. Its combination of seductive styling, spacious interior, and fuel efficiency makes it a very excellent choice. The RS Turbo variant makes it even more attractive, thanks to its 1.5-liter VTEC Turbo petrol engine that manages to be even more efficient than the entry-level 1.8-liter i-VTEC naturally aspirated engine, whilst being blisteringly quick. It’s no surprise then that despite being the most expensive compact sedan on sale, the Civic RS Turbo is still one of the best selling compact sedans. Two years since its initial release, how does the Civic RS Turbo stack up? Let’s find out.
The exterior needs no introduction. It’s a design we’ve seen for quite a while now, and yet, the Civic still draws plenty of attention that the nameplate hasn’t received for a very long time. It’s not a subtle design, with a bold, black Solid Wing Face grille, 5-spoke two-tone alloy wheels, and rear spoiler, denoting that this is the RS Turbo variant. Automatic Full-LED headlights cast a very white glow at night, with LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights, and let’s not even begin to talk about those C-shaped rear lights. Those LED rear lights leave an unmistakable light signature at night, casting a sleek C-shape to people behind it. The sloping roofline gives the Civic a coupe-like profile that’s akin to cars like the Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series GranCoupe, and Mercedes-Benz CLS. It’s very European in its execution. Stylish, but not over the top. If there was one minor gripe, I think the Civic could use a set of 18-inch alloy wheels to further spice up the look, but I’m already nitpicking at this point.
The interior is a huge departure from the previous generation like we’ve seen in the 1.8 E we’ve driven a year ago. Only this time, the RS spices it up with red graphics in the TFT LCD instrument cluster and Display Audio infotainment system, highlighting that this is the more potent RS variant. Apart from that, it’s still the same nice and premium interior we’ve been accustomed to. This RS variant gains features like a dual zone climate control (single zone in the 1.8 E), power adjustable driver’s seat, and leather interior. My minor gripe still remains, and that the lower parts of the cabin still feel less upmarket than the rest of the interior, but other than that, the Civic is a very nice place to be in. My favorite interior feature perhaps is its ginormous center console. A 12-inch iPad Pro will fit there with no problems I presume.
Space and Practicality
Despite the cool factor in its styling, no sacrifices have been made in terms of practicality. As a matter of fact, the Civic is the most spacious compact sedan in its class. 6 footers will fit on all 5 seats with no problems, though I might be too optimistic in that regard. As a matter of fact, when this generation of the Civic came out, I was able to identify a few people who were planning to purchase the bigger Accord opted instead for the Civic RS. Thanks to that electronic parking brake, eliminating the need for a mechanical parking brake that eats up center console space, Honda’s engineers were able to provide the aforementioned huge center console bin, and sneaky enough for Honda, there’s a neat storage space behind the gear lever which are arranged in two levels.
Trunk space is also extremely generous. With 425 liters of space at your disposal, the Civic offers the most generous trunk space in its class, and this increases further when you fold the seats. If you’re out for a weekend with friends or family, the Civic RS Turbo won’t disappoint.
Features, Safety, and Infotainment
The Honda Civic RS Turbo is packed with plenty of features that make the drive more enjoyable. Standout features include the aforementioned Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Remote Engine Start, which is a godsend in this country. You can start your car before you even get in, which turns on the climate control automatically, blasting cool air so that your poor, fragile self won’t suffer from the heat caused by man-made global warming as you enter your Civic. There’s also a multi-angle reverse camera, power folding mirrors, speed sensing door locks, electronic parking brake with brake hold function, and a host of other safety features such as 7 airbags, Hill Start Assist, ABS with EBD, and Emergency Stop Signal.
Infotainment system duties are done through Honda’s Display Audio interface, which is a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system that’s relatively easy to use, if not the best. Though touch response could be better, the user interface is easy to navigate as a whole. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto gives you a choice whether you want to use Honda’s own user interface, or your smartphone’s.
The Honda Civic RS Turbo is powered by Honda’s 1.5 liter turbocharged and direct injected Earth Dreams VTEC Turbo engine, producing 172 hp @ 5,500 rpm, and 220 Nm of torque @ 1,700-5,500 rpm. It is mated exclusively to an Earth Dreams CVT.
How It Drives
Two years since its release, the Civic RS Turbo still manages to offer the best driving experience in the compact sedan segment. Due to the Honda Civic’s clean sheet design, from the platform, suspension, structure, and other components, almost nothing is shared from past Civics. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be a strange move for Honda to even rename the Civic because of this. The engineers at Honda have benchmarked the Audi A3 for its ride and handling characteristics, and while it does feel anything but an Audi A3, it does come close.
The Mazda 3 is still the sportiest among compact sedans, but the Civic can keep up well with the Mazda 3 through the corners. The Civic’s ace up its sleeve is its amazing stability and rigidity. When cornering at high speeds, the car does not feel nervous and twitchy, and it stays planted through the bends, thanks in part due to its longer wheelbase. Part of the reason why the Mazda 3 is still more fun to drive is its steering, which provides more feedback than the Civic’s. Yet, I’d pick the Civic over the Mazda 3 in a heartbeat due to its high levels of refinement and stability that it doesn’t feel like a Japanese car in the way it feels to drive. Instead, it feels like an entry-level German luxury sedan in terms of refinement and road manners.
The Civic RS Turbo’s 1.5 liter VTEC Turbo engine was the first of its kind for Honda to be put to mainstream use around the world. It’s a far cry from the VTECs of old, with its high-revving nature and that “VTEC kicked in ‘yo” sensation. Instead, this engine hits you with gobs of torque from the revs down low, uncharacteristic for any Honda engine ever. There’s a slight turbo lag when you mash the throttle when launching from a standstill, but once the turbo spools and the CVT matches the correct ratio, you’re pushed back to your seat unlike anything we’ve ever seen in this category. The amazing torque delivery means a sprint from 0-100 kph is achieved in 7.4 seconds, and overtakes are literally effortless, whatever the situation. Power is there when you need it the most, and when you want it as much.
As a long distance cruiser, the Civic RS Turbo a relaxing car to drive. The ride is great and composed, and with loads of space in the interior, the Honda Civic is the perfect companion for long distance driving. The cabin remains quiet thanks to more sound deadening and thicker glass, plus the CVT does a good job of keeping the revs down low. As a result, the Civic RS Turbo is very fuel efficient despite its power. At 10.9 km/l, the RS Turbo’s fuel economy is even better than what I registered with the less powerful 1.8 E.
On The Downside
I am still not a fan of the way you adjust the climate control. In order to do the more complex stuff, you have to press the button labelled “climate” if you want to change the zones or fan speeds, making what is supposedly a single-step process too complicated.
And then there’s the price. At P1,576,000, it’s the most expensive in its class, and though it packs enough safety features that are still rare in the class, it misses out on the high tech ones such as automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, among others. The Mazda 3 2.0 R Speed, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Jetta have some or all of these advanced safety features.
Two years have certainly been kind to the Honda Civic RS Turbo. Despite new entries from the competition, the Civic RS Turbo manages to stand firm in the midst of intense battle in the compact sedan segment. Whilst buyers are now shying away from this segment, opting instead for affordable MPVs, affordable subcompact sedans, or PPVs, the compact sedan segment has turned into something of an aspirational purchase. This is a segment where buyers still have a higher priority for style, driving dynamics, and performance, and the Civic RS Turbo ticks all those boxes. The Civic is the current class best seller because it is a car that manages to be both an emotional and practical purchase.
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.5 out of 5