The base-spec Honda Civic gets a mid-life refresh, with some thoughtful little touches to keep their sensible bread and butter compact sedan attractive and relevant.
The Civic has been long regarded as the pinnacle of engineering among Japanese compact sedans, from innovations like its VTEC engines, and even the willingness to spend that little more on their suspensions, versus the competition.
The facelifted Civic now sports some neat LED fog lamps in the front (headlamps remain halogen units), complete with chrome trimmings, and a restyled front bumper. There is also a new fin-style antenna, which replaces the glass-mounted unit found on the pre-facelift model. In complementing the new bits of chrome on the front, the rear bumper also gets a little bit of chrome treatment. Newly designed 10-spoke 16” rims fill in the wheel arches well, and are shod with 215/55 tyres.
In a time where the dominance of the sensible compact sedan has been challenged by fashionable SUVs, and hatchbacks, buyers are truly spoilt for choice.
The Civic however, delivers well on passenger accommodation, and we do like that the car is very well screwed together. Being the base spec car, seat material is made of fabric. We like that Honda has stayed clear of installing faux wood strips on the dash, the plastic panels in the facelifted car are dimpled like a golf ball. There is quite a good amount of practical storage within the cabin, like its deep storage bin under the armrest, and decently-sized door pockets (they could do with a little bit of felting though).
And while the Civic does not come with a wireless charging pad, there a place for your mobile device, complete with holders for your charging cable… pretty neat.
Honda has also revised their 7” infotainment unit, with a slight nod to the design of the one found in the all-new Accord, featuring a volume control knob for easier toggling. The system offers connectivity through Apple CarPlay.
Cargo room at 519 litres is among the better ones in the market, larger than the one found on the Toyota Corolla, and even edges the Kia Cerato by a little. Rear seats fold in 60:40 style, although the aperture between the boot and the car’s interior is a little limited, and there is a bit of a kerb between the two.
Under the hood, the proven 1.6 litre SOHC engine with Honda’s i-VTEC technology pushes out a decent 125hp and 152Nm of twist at 4,300rpm. Delivery of the drive is smooth, with the front wheels driven by way of a CVT transmission. With virtual gearing, the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel are rather pointless I feel. The 1.6 litre delivers acceleration to 100km/h at a leisurely pace of 11.7 seconds, and no, banging hard on the throttle will not induce any screaming “VTEC noise”.
The 1.6 is set up for comfort, with dampening provided by way of MacPherson Struts in the front, and rear Multi-link setup. There is still a little bit of body roll, although turns can easily be taken with some enthusiasm. However, there isn’t much grunt available to take advantage of the Civic’s lovely architecture. We also feel that engineers have sorted out the steering rather well, as there is a good amount of communication coming through the electric unit.
Within the cabin, passengers will appreciate that it is well-insulated, and even for a base car, it is decently equipped.
The Skoda Octavia and the in-coming Mazda 3 are new editions to the already saturated market, since the Civic was first launched, but the facelifted car still feels current.
The base 1.6 litre Civic starts at $90,999, and for $2,000 more for the LX trim, you get leather seats and solar films for your glass. We would pick the latter, for added comfort and ease of cleaning of the interior, and films will ultimately keep your interior cooler.