Honda Civic VTi-LN road test
CONSIDER the Civic somewhat multicultural.
European-bred, the hatch has a combination of Japanese reliability and precision with some Western flair.
Honda has tweaked the hatch as part of a minor 2015 update and we experienced the range-topping VTi-LN variant which not so long ago was asking in the vicinity of 40 grand…now it starts from a much more competitive $31,090.
Honda calls the cabin a cockpit and there is an array of screens and options at first glimpse.
Many manufacturers have adopted the "head-up display", which projects digital sat nav and speedometer information on to the windscreen.
But Honda has its own system which is equally effective and not affected by polarised glasses.
The drive has a traditional binnacle featuring a tacho, oil temperature and fuel, but sitting in top and further back into the dash is a digital speedo.
Then there is another screen to the left which can display various trip computer and stereo information, while the third screen, central in the dash, has all the stereo and sat nav controls.
It all sounds complicated, yet it manages to work cohesively.
Being European built, the indicator sits left of the chunky steering wheel, and all the materials feel high-end - bolstered by the leather trim in our range-topping test vehicle.
Four adults can find reasonable space, headroom can be a little tight for taller folk in the back, while rear vision is confined due to the new spoiler.
On the road
Status quo has been maintained under the bonnet.
There are no changes to the four-cylinder power or torque figures, and the Civic remains reserved in its performance.
Getting the job done with minimal fuss, stamping your right foot isn't matched by anything neck-snapping, rather it's steady and honest.
Among the upgrades to the 2015 model is something which Honda calls the Handling Assist System.
Working in tandem with Vehicle Stability Assist, it's designed to help support the vehicle's stability and performance when things get twisty by lightly applying the brakes during cornering.
It's another one of the passive features becoming more common on the latest offerings and it all goes about its work with no knowledge of the driver.
We always felt the Civic was pretty well planted and nothing has changed.
The steering is well balanced and the driver can attack a bend with confidence - the hatch won't shift its line.
What do you get?
Among the complimentary list is a Display Audio System with full Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, iPhone mirroring functionality that shows all your apps on the main screen, sat nav, reversing camera, parking sensors front and back, cruise control, dual zone climate controlled air con along with a five-star safety rating.
For similar coin you could also get into the Ford Focus Titanium ($32,690), Holden Cruze Sri-V ($27,140), Hyundai i30 SR Premium ($30,590), Kia Cerato SLi ($31,990), Nissan Pulsar SSS ($25,990), Renault Megane GT-Line Prem ($30,990), Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S ($27,400), VW Golf 110TSI Highline ($32,990) or the Toyota Corolla ZR ($28,990).
fter more than 700km the Civic returned 6.4 litres for every 100km - which is actually below the official figure.
It was bolstered by some easy highway driving using the economy mode and running on premium unleaded, although that's still impressive going.
Capped-price servicing is available, but buyers do have to maintain a six-month or 10,000km schedule. While the distance isn't out of the ordinary, most other manufacturers now have an annual maintenance program.
Open the boot and the Civic hides an expansive space.
Easily able to handle a weekly family grocery shop, the boot does a marvellous job of swallowing gear. Dropping the seats via a 60-40 split avails copious space, making easy work of items such as golf clubs, flat-pack furniture and surfboards.
There's also a "tall mode" which enables the rear seat bases to be folded upright to cater for items such as pictures and bikes.
There are cup holders front and back, the rear pair within the fold-down arm-rest, while each door also has a spot for larger bottles.
Minor external styling tweaks have been made and there is no doubting the Civic hatch looks fast just standing still.
The defined lines may be too much for some, particularly at the back end where it is all sloping angles, yet alterations to the front and rear bumpers, grille, side molding and rear spoiler are the key changes over its predecessor.
Honda trainspotters will also appreciate the LED daytime running lights and wrap-around tail-lights.
Without doubt, the Honda Civic does a lot of things well.
Across the board it satisfies daily needs, with good looks, fuel efficiency, internal space and features.
But where it falls short is within the outstanding category. It's good, but in a realm where manufacturers are pushing the boundaries of excellence Honda will rely on its reputation for the hatch to win hearts.
Model: Honda Civic VTi-LN.
Details: Five-door front-wheel drive compact hatchback.
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 104kW @ 6500rpm and peak torque of 174Nm @ 4300rpm.
Transmission: Five-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle shifters.
Consumption: 6.6 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $31,090.
What matters most:
What we liked: Boot space and load flexibility, racy looks, cabin design.
What we'd like to see: Some extra oomph, some more excitement, tighter turning circle.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year 100,000km warranty. Servicing intervals are every six months or 10,000km, with capped price servicing available for five years/100,000km with an average price of $279.
Features and equipment17/20
Functionality and comfort17/20
Value for money15/20
Style and design17/20