The Honda Civic sedan physically straddles the small and medium segments, which makes the top-spec sedan version a bit of a bargain for anyone seeking a well-appointed but efficient car.
What is it?
This most expensive sedan in the Honda Civic line-up, the VTi-LX features a well-equipped and roomy cabin making it an excellent car to downsize into from a bigger car.
It feels like a mid-sized sedan on the road too, with refined road-holding that soaks up bumps, while retaining small car advantages including nimble handling and good fuel economy via a zippy 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
Such is its mid-sized aspiration that Honda has priced the VTi-LX to woo mid-sized buyers who may want to trade a few centimetres of leg room for some extra creature comforts.
What is the Civic VTi-LX like to drive?
While it’s the Civic VTi-LX’s equipment list brings the showroom appeal, you won’t be disappointed when taking it for a test drive.
The 10th-generation Honda Civic offers a comfortable, bump-absorbing ride and feels planted and secure on most road surfaces including gravel.
That road-holding doesn’t seem to come at the expense of handling though, with minimal body roll and direct steering that’s progressively weighted so it gets a little firmer at higher speeds to help maintain control.
It won’t take you long to get to those speeds either. The 127kW/220Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is surprisingly quick off the mark and holds plenty of power in reserve for overtaking.
It can get a little loud when pushed though, with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) naturally revving out more than conventional autos, but drive as intended around town and you’ll find the entire powertrain feels remarkably smooth.
The driver benefits from an eight-way power adjusted, leather-appointed heated seat, and driver assistance features including smart adaptive cruise control (with low-speed follow), and lane keeping assist.
Inbuilt satellite navigation is also included, though you can also use your preferred navigation apps via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which also adds to your entertainment options via the decent 10-speaker sound system.
What is the Civic VTi-LX like to live with?
At 4.64 metres long and 1.8 metres wide, the Civic sedan is 13cm longer than the hatchback, and is one of the bigger small cars on the market. This makes it a bit more of a challenge to squeeze into tight parking spots, which isn’t helped by the high boot line and tapered rear-door windows.
The parking sensors and reversing camera with guidelines help, though the camera lens seems to get wet easily when it rains, which blurs the image. Another camera mounted on the left-hand side of the car provides a view down the blind spot when you indicate to turn left, to help ensure you don’t cut anyone off, including cyclists.
The advantage of the Civic’s mid-sized aspirations means elbow room is just a few centimetres shy of the Toyota Camry’s, resulting in excellent rear-seat space for a small car, and a very handy 519-litre boot space.
The attractive interior design features soft touch surfaces and a neat and intuitive dashboard design. The only first-world gripe is audio volume control on the touchscreen that’s difficult to swipe while moving – this will bug the front passenger more than the driver, who has volume buttons on the steering wheel.
Rear-seat passengers miss out on the seat heaters, but they can recline the backrest. Even the centre position is pretty comfortable as there’s no transmission tunnel on the floor to take up legroom.
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A lack of USB ports and air vents are a notable omission from a high-spec car like this, though the cabin is still small enough for the back seats to benefit from the front vents.
While this is a roomy car for a small family, the tight door aperture and low, forehead bruising, rear roofline makes getting in and out, or strapping kids in, a bit of a chore.
Safety is another strength; with the Civic VTi-LX having the full Honda Sensing active safety suite at its disposal that includes autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, smart adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, plus rain-sensing windscreen wipers and dusk-sensing headlights.
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Luckily, running costs won’t break the bank. The 1.5-litre turbo engine has a frugal official combined fuel consumption of just 6.0L/100km, which creeps up to about 8.0L/100km if driving around town. It’s happy to drink cheaper regular unleaded petrol.
The Honda Civic is covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and Honda offers free scheduled servicing for three years, the catch being that’s limited to three services every 10,000km.
Is the Civic VTi-LX worth the money?
That’s always a loaded question when talking about upper-spec models. The Civic VTi-LX sedan retails for $33,690, which is $100 more than the hatch, which is worth it if you want that extra boot space.
When considering a Honda Civic, the smart money is on the mid-spec Civic VTi-L that comes with all the important stuff like Honda Sensing and the 1.5-litre turbo plus $5700 in change.
But the additional outlay for the VTi-LX seems good value when you consider the desirable extras it brings, including the leather appointed upholstery, heated front seats, power-adjusted driver’s seat, sunroof, sat-nav, premium audio system, smart adaptive cruise control, and sharper LED headlights.
And the price compares well against key rivals such as the Mazda 3 GT ($34,490), Hyundai Elantra Sport Premium ($33,990) and Subaru Liberty 2.5i Premium ($36,640), while costing thousands less than similarly equipped, and not that much bigger, medium sedans.
PROS: Interior space, well equipped, powerful turbo engine
CONS: Poor rear vision, busy exterior styling