Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
The all-new 10th-generation Honda Civic has made a big impression on Car Conversation. After spending some time in the flagship Civic VTi-LX we were keen to see how the models at the entry point in the range stack up.
Here we have the two models that open the line-up, the Civic VTi (white) and VTi-S (red). Being entry models doesn’t mean they are short of standard equipment, both cars get body coloured door handles, electrically adjustable mirrors, cruise control with speed limiter, single-zone automatic climate control, 60:40 split fold rear seats and an electric parking brake with automatic brake hold.
The Civic VTi and VTi-S sedan models have many things in common, so it makes sense to look at them together.
These models share the same drivetrain, the Civic VTi and VTi-S utilise Honda’s 1.8-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine. It turns out 104kW of power and peak torque of 174Nm is available at 4,300rpm. It’s an engine that has been around for a while, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it has a proven track record and is unlikely to let you down.
The gear changes are automatic, courtesy of a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This transmission is featured throughout the Civic sedan range as a standard inclusion. There are no manual options which may turn off some of the purists. This is a brave move by Honda, by not offering a manual in the entry model the brand is unable to advertise a super cheap drive away price to lure buyers into showrooms.
This engine and transmission combination is not as convincing as the setup in the higher spec models. The new turbocharged 1.5-litre engine is slightly more responsive and partners well with the CVT. When partnered with the 1.8-litre engine, the CVT was sometimes found wanting at lower speeds.
Where the 2017 Honda Civic VTi and VTi-S models do set a high standard is in the areas of steering, suspension and refinement.
The steering is accurate and well-weighted without the artificial feeling that seems to be starting to spread throughout the Civic’s competitors.
We are huge fans of the suspension setup. Like the engine, well-proven options are utilised in the form of MacPherson strut at the front and independent multi-link suspension at the rear. Honda engineers have done a great job to optimise the suspension for engaging performance and a responsive feel. It’s also brilliant at minimising the transfer of lumps and bumps from poor road surfaces into the cabin.
All the new Civic models we have driven provided us with a very refined driving experience. Honda’s efforts to significantly reduce noise, vibration and harshness levels have been well worth it.
The cabin design maximises every millimetre of the wheelbase and delivers an exceptional amount of interior space. There is plenty of legroom for those in the rear, even if those up front are on the tall side.
There is also plenty of room for junk in the trunk, with cargo space of 519 litres, the Civic VTi and VTi-S are able to outdo cars in the next segment up.
The cloth seats in the VTi and VTi-S feel hard wearing but not very nice to the touch. The cloth trim in the VTi-S is marketed as premium, however, there are far better modern textiles available.
An LCD instrument cluster with multi-function colour display replaces the usual analogue dials. It’s very clear and easy to read.
Infotainment is another area to receive high praise. The 7-inch Advanced Display Audio touchscreen offers excellent functionality and connectivity. It’s a quality system that is simple to use and responds quickly to user commands. The system incorporates Bluetooth for phones and audio streaming, AM/FM radio, USB and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology.
On the outside, the first point to make is how great the all-new Civic looks in any specification. The styling of the car is unmistakeable, it’s modern without being overdone. The look of the Civic should keep the Honda faithful happy while appealing to buyers that may not have given it serious consideration in the past.
It is only the old school steel wheels with plastic covers on the VTi that take a little shine off the exterior of the base model. Obviously, alloys would have been a nice addition to the package.
Honda has given the Civic VTi and VTi-S plenty of standard safety kit. All Civic models get six airbags, rearview camera, Anti-lock Brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and Straight Driving Steering Assist.
What is disappointing is the decision not to offer the Honda Sensing Suite as an option on all models in the new Civic range. At present, this impressive safety package is only available on the top-spec VTi-LX. Buyers of all other Civic variants miss out on potentially lifesaving driver-assist technologies such as Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) and Adaptive Cruise Control.
So what separates the Civic VTi and VTi-S? For not too much more of your hard earned the VTi-S gets 16-inch alloy wheels, door mirrors with LED Integrated indicators, front halogen fog lights, front and rear parking sensors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The clever LaneWatch camera system is standard on the VTi-S. The system uses a camera located in the left side mirror that displays an 80-degree view of what is out to the left of the car on the infotainment screen. It’s very helpful in busy traffic to help the driver monitor a blind spot.
The VTi-S also gets smart keyless entry with push button start and automatic locking when the driver walks away from the car.
The entry point to the new Civic range, the VTi starts at $22,390 plus on-road costs. The VTi-S comes in at $24,490 before on-roads. When all things are considered, the pricing does represent strong value in the context of the market segment the Civic sedan is looking to succeed in.
Over our time in the Civic VTi and VTi-S, the cars returned consumption figures of 6.3 and 6.5 litres respectively per 100km. Testing covered highway and city driving. Overall, an excellent result when put next to the claimed fuel use of 6.4 litres per 100km.
In terms of ownership costs, all Civic models are covered by the Honda Tailored Service Program, essentially it’s a capped-price plan that provides transparent costs for five years or 100,000km (whichever occurs first). Service intervals are set at 12 months or 10,000km with pricing listed at $284 plus any additional items like air filters and brake fluid changes as they become due.
The Civic is backed by a three year/100,000km warranty. Unfortunately, we can't get enthusiastic about this length of warranty coverage. It’s time Japanese manufacturers move to a five-year package.
It’s easy to get excited about the Honda Civic sedan, even in its entry-level configurations. It offers comfort, space, great styling and a quality driving experience that gives it the edge over its mainstream competition. With a competitively priced hatchback version on the way, Honda will have the necessary firepower to take sales from Toyota and Mazda. We are expecting to see plenty more all-new Civic’s on the road before the end of 2017.
2017 Honda Civic VTi and VTi-S Sedan Specifications
Price from $22,390, plus on-road costs Engine 1.8L In-line 4 cylinder petrol Power 104kW @ 6500 rpm Torque 174Nm @ 4300 Transmission CVT automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 6.4L/100km Tank Capacity 47L Length 4644mm Width 1799mm Height 1416mm Wheelbase 2700mm Tare Mass 1331kg Turning circle 10.6m Service Intervals 12-months or 10,000km Warranty three year/100,000 kilometre
Let’s start a Car Conversation, which model offers the best value in the Civic range?