I wrote in a previous review about the Mazda3 that sales expectations are low for almost any conventional hatchback or sedan in this world of ever increasing numbers of SUV’s, but that doesn’t mean there are no good hatchbacks and sedans left.
The Honda Civic has essentially been shorthand for the small hatchback since it was introduced in 1972 It as spread to virtually every corner of the world and is still going strong, even though the Honda CR-V has taken over the mantle of the everyday Honda.
This Civic sedan is the latest in the range of Civics, being the updated NZ$39,990 RS Sensing sedan. While RS in Porscheworld means extremely high performance machinery, in Hondaworld it means a high spec model with a stiffer suspension and no more power over a standard Civic. The “Sensing” relates to the suite of electronic safety devices added to the car, including Active Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Collision Mitigating Braking, and Forward Collision Warning.
As the Civic RS Sensing is the highest spec of Civic bar the Civic Type-R, it gets full leather upholstery, heated front seats,and red stitching on the seats and dashboard trim. Luckily it also gets a rear spoiler, which ties the rear end together design wise. Look at a Civic sedan with no spoiler and it looks strangely unfinished, as if the designers got to the rear end of the car and just gave up.
On the inside the red stitching brings up the ‘top specification’ feel of the car but that same feel is let down by some trim that is rough enough to have been taken off the forehead of an elephant. There are gear change paddles on the steering column and they protrude enough from the column that people with small hands can easily operate them. Many cars in the market have such paddles, but they are often positioned too far away from anyone with shorter than normal fingers. The seats are comfortable but the seat bases in the front are short, leaving most of your thighs unsupported. The rear seats can accommodate anyone up to about six feet tall, but while those seats can be folded down to make for more cargo space there’s only a narrow hole between the seat space and the boot through the intrusive rear bulkhead.
On the road the Civic RS handles well, with a stiffer than normal suspension that really sharpens the chassis and avoids lots of body roll. It doesn’t feel too stiff though and the whole Civic range could do with this suspension, with the RS having another step up in stiffness. I’m no fan of CVT gearboxes but the unit in the RS is one of the better ones, avoiding the over revving that accompanies most such gearboxes. There’s a reasonable amount of performance from the 127kW/220Nm turbocharged 1.5-litre engine, but as always, the car could do with a little more.
The Honda Civic RS Sensing sedan is certainly a capable car, but most people will walk right past one to get to the HR-Vs and CR-Vs in the showroom, an unavoidable circumstance of buyer preferences. But the Civic RS does have lots going for it if you want something that is much more of a driver’s car.