Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven
Out of all the models in Honda’s lineup, the Civic is arguably one of the most important to the Japanese manufacturer. With an exceptionally strong fan base and a high-performance lineage appreciated by its over 18 million customers since its introduction in 1972, the pressure for Honda to improve on the Civic increases with every iteration. The Civic has had its hits and misses in the past few generations, but we believe this current 10th generation Civic is the return to form we’ve been waiting to see.
Honda seems to have thrown every previous design concept in the trash and has started fresh with the all-new Civic. The previous Civic’s three-box sedan styling has given way to an almost coupe-like silhouette with a strong side profile, an aggressive front grille, and a refreshingly unique rear end. It all comes to together to relay the message that this Civic was built to be a performer, with striking sporty design cues all around.
This particular unit gets even more athletic touches thanks to its Modulo accessories. The added Modulo accents come in the form of front, rear and side under spoilers, a wing-type trunk spoiler, 17-inch matte black alloy wheels, dual sporty exhaust pipes, LED-illuminated side step garnish, a leather shift knob, and sports pedals.
The Civic’s departure from a traditional design continues inside, where you’re greeted by a tastefully-done tech-inspired interior. It’s a fantastic place to be, with well-bolstered seats, and a raised center console we first saw on the Civic HR-V. It allows for an engaging driving position and a more natural position for your right arm when reaching for the shifter.
The instrument cluster is almost purely digital, with a lot of attention given to little details such as plastic moldings that house the temperature and fuel indicators respectively. It’s these little touches that truly make the Civic feel that it’s worth the premium you’re paying, as none of the materials feel cheap or compromised.
Build quality is superb, with each button feeling solid to the touch. You won’t find any buttons on the infotainment system however, as the large touch screen is where you’ll control most of your audio and communication features. Fortunately, there are buttons conveniently located on the steering wheel so you don’t have to guess where your fingers are supposed to land on the screen while you’re driving.
Complimenting the Civic’s new design is a spanking new engine in the form of Honda’s L15B7 VTEC turbo engine. Good things come from small engines lately, so don’t let the four-cylinder 1.5-liter configuration fool you. Outputting 173 hp and 216 Nm of torque, the Civic RS is the new king of performance, putting it on another level completely. It’s a peppy, responsive engine with plenty of mid-range power for highway overtaking or zipping around the city.
The engine is paired to Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology CVT, which is the Civic’s only technical disappointment. While being an adequate performer, easily finding the proper gear and returning smooth gear shifts, a proper six-speed automatic transmission, or better yet, a manual transmission would’ve given more credence to the Civic’s focus on sporty high-performance. There are paddle shifters behind the wheel, though you’ll quickly find that they’re hardly necessary.
As 95% of Civic owners probably won’t be taking their car to the track or racing on the highway, the CVT transmission does help the engine return good fuel economy, returning 8-kilometers per liter in the city, and over 15-kilometers per liter on the highway for an average of around 11.5-kilometers per liter.
While not as agile as the Mazda 3, some people will appreciate the Civic’s stronger bias towards comfort over handling, as it provides a quiet, gentle ride even over irregular roads.
The Civic RS Turbo Modulo Sport represents the best that Honda has to offer locally, and this is reflected by its steep P1,515,000 price tag. It’s a lot of money for a sedan, but the Civic is a lot of car. Even without the Modulo accessories, the Civic RS Turbo comes loaded with safety and convenience features, with Auto Brake Hold being notable on the list.
It certainly gives the Mazda 3 some stiff competition when it comes to refinement and build quality, with the added bonus of Honda’s excellent resale value and unbeatable engine performance. For the casual car buyer, adding the Civic to your garage is a smart decision. For the Honda enthusiast, it’s a prayer well answered.
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