Time Well Spent: Honda Civic Sport Plus 1.5 VTEC Turbo – 8/10

Mike Humble

civic grey side
The £22,405 Civic 1.5 VTEC Turbo Sport Plus

A little while ago I sampled the new Civic in its 1.0 turbo petrol form. For that full test CLICK HERE. More recently, the keys were taken for the Sport Plus 1.5 Turbo version that features a a four cylinder 182PS turbocharged VTEC power unit mated to a six speed gearbox – there’s also a CVT option as well.

With this much more powerful version the normal Honda expectations of grippy handling, good ride comfort and their accent on technology and safety still remain. The key difference is its beating heart, whereby the 1.0 Turbo is gutsy but not keen on high revs, the 1.5 Sport Plus is linear and keen to fly when you want it to. In fact the car is so smooth behind the wheel it doesn’t actually feel as quick as it really is.

civic grey engine
Rather like the 1.0 version I tested earlier, the view is rather messy. That said it performs well and lets out a snarly voice when you push on. Torque at low revs is a bit lacking though, it doesn’t come on song till about 1800rpm but when it does… it makes you smile. Cruising refinement and serenity has you forgetting the sport badge.

Rolling along in an urban environment or racking off the miles at speed are enjoyable experiences without the merest whiff of urgency in its nature. In fact, its rather easy to forget the car has the term “Sport” in the title

From rest to a mile a minute sprint comes up in a smidge over eight seconds and the top speed isn’t far off 140mph where conditions allow. The impressive quality comes in the form of its refinement with motorway cruising being especially relaxed and effortless. Rolling along in an urban environment or racking off the miles at speed are enjoyable experiences without the merest whiff of urgency in its nature. In fact, its rather easy to forget the car has the term “Sport” in the title.

The gearbox has a lovely short throw action, shifts easily and has a pleasant short stubby lever that sits just right in the hand. Whats even better is the smile inducing “click” sound as you change through the well spaced ratios. I have said this before and purely on a personal level… I really do think Honda have it nailed when it comes to a driving position. The positioning of the gears, pedals and steering allied to a snug almost cocooned feeling behind the wheel, for me? feels just right.

civic grey int
Excellent driving position, good visibility and levels of equipment impress. Some controls continue to be fussy in use and the instruments wont be to everyone’s liking. Seats are good but could do with an little more under thigh support. All is forgiven thanks to a brilliant chassis that features adaptable dampers. But it does lack the deep rooted solid feeling you find with a Golf or the user friendliness of the current new Astra.

Jumping out of lets say an Astra or Golf for example may cause the driver at first to be slightly befuddled or overwhelmed with the technology

My gripes over matters relating to other ergonomics such as infotainment, climate, and trip computer still stand. Many minor controls and functions seen a little over-engineered and fussy when in use and the neon LCD dashboard display wont be to some folks liking. Jumping out of lets say an Astra or Golf for example may cause the driver to be slightly befuddled or overwhelmed with the technology, but once you have settled in and acclimatised yourself to the layout it soon falls into place.

civic grey rear
Styling is always an opinionated theme. For me? I kind of like it and as for those canon exhausts, only the less informed wont know it isn’t a Type-R

But for drivers who enjoy a good steer with a subconscious feeling of thorough engineering I still stand by my thoughts on the Civic, a brilliant chassis, a great driving position and very well appointed. My earlier worries about build quality have been watered down – the latest car from Honda seemed to be much better assembled. The 1.5 pulls well and seemed pretty good on the fuel getting pretty close to their claimed combined average of 48.7mpg – I managed just short of 46mpg.

Any real gripes? Well it does have a good belt of torque (240Nm) but it doesn’t really come on song till about 1800rpm which makes you switch ratios a bit more than you’d like at times. Also, that damn dashboard can be difficult to read in certain lighting conditions making the little red LED marker hard to see, especially on the fuel gauge. Also, there’s the styling – some say Honda clearly didn’t know when to stop and others seem to like it. My take? I think it looks distinctive and unique… I kinda like it

Be sure to read the test on the Civic 1.0 for the general idea of the car!


The Humble Opinon:

Another good one. Fast when you want it to be and smooth when you just want to cruise – it really is a good driving car.

Capable chassis, an excellent driving position and smirk inducing roar from the engine when you cling onto every gear all add up to an enjoyable steer. On paper it isn’t cheap, but when you factor in the good levels of equipment and the long history of a brand that doesn’t build rubbish cars… the value comes back again.

You are starting to notice quite a few on the roads now and even though it will probably not appeal to loyal owners of volume brands like Ford, Vauxhall or Volkswagen, that’s their loss and Honda’s gain… and it helps to keep Honda residual values strong as they are famed for.

Some ergonomic gripes remain but nonetheless I adore the handling and feel of the Honda Civic… you have to look beyond the quirky looks and try one!

MODEL TESTED: Honda Civic Sport Plus 1.5 VTEC TURBO

Produced By: Honda UK manufacturing Ltd Swindon

Price: £25,405 ex options

Driveline: 1.5 16v turbo petrol with VTEC producing 182PS & 240Nm of torque

Performance: *0 – 60 in 8.3 seconds and 137mph max

Economy: *48.7 mpg combined (45.8mpg on test)

Co2 Output: 133g/Km

* = makers or Govt claimed data

Whats Great?

  • Superb handling and ride
  • Strong performance
  • Addictive engine note when in full flight
  • Very well equipped
  • Good safety features
  • Very refined when cruising
  • Interior space

What Grates?

  • Not as user friendly as the top selling rivals
  • Styling is a dividing topic – you like it or loathe it
  • Feels cost engineered in places
  • Lacks the robust sensation you find in a VW Golf
  • Disappointing bottom end torque – it has to be worked to get the best from it
  • Some ergonomics are either daft or stupid

For more information on the Honda Civic CLICK HERE







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