This luke warm petrol version of the Honda Civic may be as close as what some people might get to the awesome fire breathing Type-R, but it doesn’t disappoint – except where fuel consumption matters. Its yet another cracking Brit built Honda…
Like the Civic, I hail from a railway town (LNER of course and none of this GWR nonsense!) and knowing family and friends who assembled locomotives or stood on the footplate, I often think of a statement many loco drivers, especially in steam days, used to say. No two engines would be identical either in behaviour or the way they operated and cars are very much like that too in some cases. If you were to take 3 identical models, I’ll bet you my last Rolo there will be slight differences in the feeling out on the road. One thing I have noted about all of the UK built Honda vehicles is that every one has been without fault… consistency lets call it.
All of them have felt correct, performed flawlessly and none of them have felt better or poorer than others in terms of overall quality. The Civic Sport in 1.8i form bucks the current trend of nailing on a turbocharger in the quest of weeny rev happy engines searching for ultimate fuel efficiency sometimes at the expense of longevity. Its an old skool fuel injected 16v unit with Honda’s VTEC valve gear control mated to a six speed manual transmission. A useful 142PS is at your command and unless you really push the engine skyward its refined and very smooth. Readers of this site will be aware of the overall Civic package by now, so I wont dwell or rake over old coals.
Equipment levels are pretty good with spec highlights including dual zone climate, reverse camera and parking sensors, power folding mirrors, all round powered windows, cruise control and a DAB audio system with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hotspot – the latter also benefits from a very impressive sound quality too. Cloth seats with figure hugging bolsters allow you take maximum advantage of its superb chassis, they pin you into the seat without compromising the comfort. The roof lining is trimmed in black – as per the Type-R which adds more doom and gloom to the interior for some but in fitting with the sporting accent.
On the outside Honda have fitted sporty bumpers and some side fairings to make it stand out over the other models, I particularly liked the blood red door mirrors and roof mounted spoiler. To add extra snazz, the 17 inch alloys have a satin black finish – they look very snappy and were fitted with super sticky tyres. Performance is fairly good with the usual sprint to sixty coming up a whisker over nine seconds and the longer stroke 1.8 also has ample torque, enough to block change from 1st to 3rd to 5th without any labouring of the engine whatsoever. The only downside seems to be fuel economy. Honda claim a combined figure of 46.3mpg but the best I could eek out was a very uninspiring 36 – only 5mpg more than the range topping 309PS Type-R.
But that said… its a Civic so the fuel economy is bound to be offset by the fact its probably never going to go wrong during ownership to give you a nasty nip in the wallet or purse. Strong residual values go in its favour too so what you loose on the swings you gain on the roundabout to coin the phrase. Other gripes? Well the rear visibility in true Civic style is not brilliant and low speed ride can be choppy on poor roads. Also of note, cars like the new Astra 1.4 turbo offer similar performance and power with better emission figures but its still difficult to fault the Civic on practicality, chassis talent and overall quality. Its slowly becoming ripe for replacement but remains a credible choice for those who like a bit of get up and go with painless ease of ownership.
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 7/10
The Humble Opinion:
A sport model that actually feels sporty… a refreshing change!
The standard Honda ingredients of a really nimble chassis, zingy performance and impressive quality still impress as does the very clever loadspace and rear seat folding arrangements. It feels livelier than the figures may lead you to think and its really good to drive in town or country. The gear lever is as nice in your palm as a £50 note but the flexible engine means that gear changes can be kept to a minimum… so it doesn’t feel like you’re rowing a boat.
Plenty of space, plenty of equipment and a reputation set in stone means the whole life experience is going to be a good one but the styling remains a 50-50 split between love it or loath it – as it happens I like the shape. As mentioned earlier, some rivals are overtaking the Civic in terms of tech and green appeal but a new model is in the distance that’s bound to redress the balance. But for now the Civic remains a damn fine package that’s a hoot to drive… it really puts a smile on your face when you press on.
Should you buy: Yes… a really sensible and good drivers car for a sensible price.
Model Tested: Honda Civic Sport 1.8 i-VTEC
Produced by: Honda UK manufacturing Ltd Swindon
Price: £19,985 excluding options
Driveline: 1.8 16v petrol 142PS with 6 speed manual
Performance: * 0 – 60 in 9.1 seconds
Economy: *46.3mpg combined (36.3mpg during actual test)
Co2 / VED: 145G/Km VED band F
* Manufacturers or Govt claimed data
THE HIGHS: Flexible refined engine – Lovely gearchange quality – Clever and spacious cargo options – Good build quality – Lively performance – Great road manners and chassis control – Good levels of occupant and pedestrian safety – Strong brakes – Some nice sporting touches to the exterior – Smart looking alloys wheels – Good value for money.
THE LOWS: Below average fuel economy – Tyre noise on rough roads – Low speed ride is a bit over firm – Dash reflections in glass at night – Styling is an acquired taste to some – Starting be eclipsed by some rivals in terms of tech and efficiency.
See our Civic Diesel Sport review by CLICKING HERE
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