It was once one of the most popular hatchbacks on sale in Australia, but it has changed direction and abandoned buyers along the way.
If doing your civic duty is to take care of your community, then Honda has its eyes only on the top end of town.
Its new Civic hatchback has just been launched in Australia in a single high-spec VTi LX grade, which is priced at $47,200 drive-away. This is over $15,000 from the previous entry point into the range.
This would put it out of reach of most small car buyers, which is a shame because the new Civic is an excellent machine that very few should enjoy.
The Civic is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary and it has been a legend in Australian driveways for decades. Just five years ago, Honda was selling around 15,000 Civics.
But Honda is trying to market its brand and is ready to sacrifice volume for the sake of margin. It expects to sell just 900 Civics a year.
“When developing the market proposition for the all-new Civic, we needed to ensure it was in line with the overall product strategy for Honda Australia,” says local boss Stephen Collins.
“The Civic is specified to appeal to a new target customer, one that aligns with the Civic nameplate and the move to a more premium position for the Honda brand.”
Wherever you look, the new Civic looks more premium than the previous version.
Its styling is more conservative, with the sharp edges that defined the previous version.
A smooth silhouette that’s more liftback than hatchback gives the Civic a more mature vibe and its 18-inch alloy wheels are stylish but understated.
This theme continues inside where the cabin is ventilated, with forward vision.
Honda has made a major effort to improve visibility with smaller pillars, wider windscreen, lower bonnet and hidden wipers.
Inside is a mix of hard and soft tactile plastic surfaces, broken up with a premium looking textured material.
Easy-to-use climate controls are complemented by a nine-inch central touchscreen that’s compatible with wired Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. The instrument cluster is a mix of analog and digital information and feels a bit outdated compared to the full digital displays of some rivals.
The crisp-sounding 12-speaker Bose stereo helps keep the outside at bay, while the leather-appointed, electronically adjustable front seats come with a heating function. They feel firm but supportive.
Front-seat passengers get two USB charging points and a wireless device charging pad.
The rear seat is spacious with excellent legroom and decent head room despite the coupe-like sloping roof.
There are two rear air vents but no USB charging point.
The boot space of 404 liters is good, but a removable floor takes it up to 449 liters. Unfortunately this comes at the cost of a spare tire, with the Civic only working with tire repair kits.
Honda covers its vehicles with a five year/unlimited km warranty and servicing is exceptionally affordable at $125 a pop for the first five years.
A lot of safety kits are included as standard.
The Civic will brake automatically if a potential collision with a car, pedestrian or cyclist is detected.
If it detects you’re going astray, it will pull you back into your lane by gently pulling the steering wheel, keep an eye on your blind spot and sound an alarm if a car is coming in the opposite direction of you.
Power comes from a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that makes a handy 131kW and 240Nm, mated to a CVT automatic transmission.
It offers smooth acceleration off the mark and the CVT is one of the better performing examples.
The engine never feels breathless while overtaking or climbing steep hills.
The Civic feels nimble and easy to maneuver in tight spaces, while it’s also a capable cruiser on the freeway, with a smooth and composed ride.
It inspires confidence through corners with excellent body control, impressive grip and direct, well-weighted steering.
Honda claims fuel usage of 6.3L/100km and we managed around 7L/100km in mixed conditions. The Civic only requires cheap unleaded petrol.
A round car with excellent driving etiquette. It is a pity that the price of most buyers is reduced.
Honda Civic VTI LX Vitalus
Price: $47,200 Drive-Away
Device: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, 131kW/240Nm
Warranty / Servicing: Five years/Unlimited kms, $625 for five years
the protection: 8 airbags, auto emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, radar cruise control,
fuel usage: 6.3 litres/100 km
Excessive: repair kit
Cargo: 404 liters