Ever keen to get behind the wheel of something purporting to be sporty, I’ve hopped into the Honda Civic RS sedan to see whether the rest of the package lives up to the expectations set by its eye-catching exterior.
Granted, the RS is more styling package than a true performer like its big bro, the Civic Type R, but can it keep yours truly, a technologically-minded young adult, happy behind the wheel?
What is it?
The Honda Civic RS sedan is advertised as a style-conscious variation of the popular Honda Civic four-door, and one that definitely outshines its hatchback companion when it comes to aesthetic appeal, with a tidy looking boot instead of the hatch's aggressive, angular, and slightly awkward rump.
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Priced at $31,990 the Civic RS is powered by a fairly strong 127kW turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine and includes Honda Sensing advanced safety kit and smartphone connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It also receives a sports body kit, leather trim, heated front seats, power adjustable driver’s seat and an upgraded sound system - nice-to-have embellishments that make the RS look and feel a little more special than other garden-variety Civics.
Honda Civic range review
What's it like to drive?
More often than not, affordable cars that try to label themselves as sporty can sometimes struggle to back up their claims. Fortunately, the Civic RS sedan has more than enough poke to motor you out of trouble and I even found it quite fun, ferrying me around throughout a weekend of errands.
It’s easy to steer and place on the road with its compact sedan body, and has excellent vision peering through the cabin to the outside world. Something that might catch you off-guard is its unconventional gearbox, which is a CVT - or continuously variable transmission. Traditionally this type of gearbox makes cars feel sluggish or unresponsive to demands for acceleration, however the version in the Civic RS is quite perky and alert.
The Civic sedan eats up speed bumps to make around-town drives comfortable too. Big flashy alloy wheels can often compromise comfort, but that's not the case with the Civic - you can have your bling without inducing lower back pain.
Another great feature is the lane watch camera that’ll automatically display on the centre screen what’s lurking in your blind spot to the rear left whenever you indicate left (or press a button on the end of the indicator stalk). My only suggestion would be to add a camera so it does it when indicating right too.
What's it like to live with?
The Honda Civic RS sedan fit in seamlessly with my busy weekend and actually improved upon what is my normal car, a BMW 3 Series wagon. The fact that I didn’t have to stoop down to get into the Civic RS like I would in my car was particularly nice, and the large 517-litre boot ate up multiple backpacks worth of camera gear and shopping bags.
Hatchback: 2018 Honda Civic RS quick review
There was room enough in the back seat for delivering two mates across town, and the car’s infotainment system connected to my phone easily to play music (great ambience from the sound system, by the way). Given the fat standard equipment list of the Civic RS I expected it to also have satellite navigation as standard, but that feature is curiously (and disappointingly) absent on this variant.
That problem can be circumvented with the use of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring, but we'd still like to see a built-in navigation system on a $30K+ small car.
The interior itself is a nice place to be, with comfortable part-leather seats and more than enough leg and head room for most. I’m a large six-foot-four-inches and can’t fault the Civic’s smart packaging, either in the front or rear seats. The instrument cluster is easy to read with a big digital speed readout, and the surrounding materials are sturdy and nice to touch.
There’s also myriad storage solutions about the cabin, with a large centre console bin giving you loads of space for phone, wallet, keys and more. Although, as I slid open the door (it's not hinged like most centre console lids) to access the cubby I jammed my finger resulting in a slew of expletives.
Be mindful of it, but I’ll take that one though and mark it down as user-error and not necessarily the Civic's fault!
Is it worth the money?
If you’re keen on the sporty styling attributes and dig the extra kit that’s offered with the Civic RS, by all means this is a great use of $31,990. It’s really pleasant to drive, spacious and enjoys a large amount of features for the price. It’s also economical, returning a close-to-claimed 7.0 litres per 100kms driven during our week-long test (6.0 L/100km is Honda's official claim).
However if you’re looking for the best deal, we’d steer towards the significantly cheaper $27,990 Civic VTi-L variant that retains the same engine, but also hits a better balance between value and features offered.
Pros: Great packaging; excellent storage options; powerful and economic engine
Cons: No sat nav; engine can drone at times
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars