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2017 Honda Civic VTi-LX hatch review

The world of Honda holds a number of big-name legacies. One of its biggest is the Civic, arriving in Australia with its tenth generation. With it comes a new and very quirky design, improved engine efficiency and performance, and some added technologies that we have not seen in this class.

After some years of supply and cost issues, which stemmed from sourcing UK-built models, we finally see a sedan and hatch available at a price that matches the market it resides in. The lineup is also abundant with choices to increase market reach. It now comprises of six variants; the VTi, VTi-S, VTi-L, RS, and VTi-LX, and the redefining hot hatch, the Type-R. We’re testing out the VTi-LX, the most luxurious variant, which has a price tag of $33,590 (excluding on-road costs).

2017 Honda Civic VTi-LX – THE SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder
Output: 127kW@5500rpm / 220Nm@1700-5500rpm
Transmission: CVT auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 17×7.0, 215/50
ANCAP: Five stars (scored 34.68 out of 37)
Tare weight: 1365kg
Power-to-weight: 10.75:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 6.1L/100km
Economy during test: 6.3L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 47L/91 RON

Power efficiency: 20.82kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.79 seconds*
0-100km/h: 7.45 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.77 seconds*
1/8 mile: 10.26 seconds at 117.3km/h*
1/4 mile: 15.68 seconds at 149.2km/h*
Max acceleration force: 0.518g
100-0km/h braking: 3.01 seconds at 39.00 metres*
Max deceleration force: -1.12g
Decibel at idle: 40*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 81*
Priced from: $33,590

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2017 Honda Civic VTi-LX – THE PACKAGE

You really get to notice how far technology has come in the automotive industry when you see the latest features and safety measures trickle down into the everyday car, like the Honda Civic.
The VTi-LX is the burger with the lot. The only item that is an optional extra is metallic paint. It comes fully loaded with pretty much everything that is available in the higher-end market. Features like forward collision autonomous braking, lane departure assist, front and rear parking sensors, distance sensitive cruise control, leather seats with heating in the front, proximity keyless entry with push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, daytime running lights and auto headlights, and tyre pressure sensors to name a few.

It even comes with a side mirror camera for checking your blind spot during lane changes – we haven’t seen that before in this market. The multimedia/audio system is also copiously decked out with sat-nav, digital DAB+ radio, a ripper 12-speaker sound system with subwoofer, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, and heck, it even has a HDMI input.

Finally, Honda has succumbed to the advantages of using turbochargers. The VTi-LX, like the VTi-L and RS, comes with a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Providing a respectable 127kW of power. Interestingly, and sadly for some, all Honda Civics in Australia are fitted standard with a CVT auto transmission. There is no option for a manual. The demise of anything manual becomes increasingly apparent.

Moving to the exterior, the new Civic hatch exhibits an eccentric design that uses pointy, jagged edges throughout. The front end makes for heavy use of protruding contours and bulky black plastic accents. And the rear can be simply described much the same. The hatch slopes down so gradually, it almost looks identical to the sedan. The rear lights are shaped like giant crab claws, and protrude from the body almost as much. If you dare to stare long enough, you might see resemblances of the old Honda CR-X, or maybe the original Hyundai Coupe.

As subjective as aesthetics are, the Civic hatch could be seen as futuristic, aggressive and sporty to some; or obnoxious, childish, and peculiar to others. If you have not noticed already, we tend to lean more towards the latter. At the least, most could agree that the design differentiates from the competition for customers that desire something a little more unconventional.

On the inside, we’re much more enthusiastic. Honda knows how to make an elegant and quality-built interior. Materials and plastics used feel hard wearing and soft to the touch. In addition, there are some nifty Volvo-like storage crevices found under the centre console. Even with all the bells and whistles, the Civic’s interior is easy and fast to navigate. The infotainment system is controlled by a 7.0-inch touch-screen used in all models, which is slightly smaller than some of the competition.

Both the front and rear leather seats are comfortable and feel luxurious. Perhaps due to the bulgy-shaped bonnet and low-lying roofline, you do feel like you are sitting a little low in the front seats compared with some rivals. Rear headroom is a tad on the tight side, perhaps due to that long-sloped hatch shape, but legroom is abundant and near the most we’ve seen in the class. At 410 litres with rear seats in place, the boot in the Civic hatch is bigger than the Toyota Corolla hatch’s 280 litres, the Mazda3’s 308 litres, and the Hyundai i30’s 395 litres. Folding down the 60/40 split-fold seats increases the space to a huge 1580 litres. Although, some of this volume is not entirely usable due to the protruding wheel arches and that low swooping hatch lid.

Servicing is required every 10,000km or 12 months, which is one of the most frequent on the market. From an ownership perspective, this would escalate your running costs. From July 2017, Honda is selling all its vehicles with a fantastic five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty in order to compete with the likes of Hyundai. ANCAP has awarded the new Civic hatch five stars for safety for all variants (Type R not tested).

2017 Honda Civic VTi-LX – THE DRIVE

One of the mentioned improvements to the 2017 Honda Civic is the new engine available; a 1.5-litre turbo that produces 127kW and 220Nm. The extra power thanks to the addition of the turbo is highly welcome. However, more torque would be handy. You will notice this when going up a steep hill or when you have the car loaded with passengers. Some of the blame can be attributed to the nature of CVT auto.

In your everyday commute, that extra turbo nip spread across a smooth CVT auto transmission will help you get up to speed effortlessly. It is sad to see we cannot have some more spirited driving with a manual gearbox, or even a conventional auto with proper gears, but overall for everyday driving the CVT does the job and does assist with sheer efficiency.

Over the generations the Civic has continued to be one of the best small cars to drive in terms of chassis dynamics and capability. It is no different with the 10th generation model, which performs splendidly on the road. It more than keeps up with the small car standard by providing a ride that balances comfort and control, remarkably. The steering is direct and offers the right amount of feedback, while still having the right weighting for slow and fast speed bends.

The chassis is well balanced and feels supple and responsive when sloped into harsh corners. It is quick to regain body control after rapid steering changes. Unlike some of the cheaper alternatives on the market, the Civic hatch does not feel nervous or unsettled at any time, whether it’s at high speeds on the highway or pitching down a bump and windy road. If you want anything more, there is always the Type R.

Official fuel consumption figures rate the 1.5-litre engine on average at 6.1L/100km. That is not a breakthrough reading, but it does compare better to the Toyota Corolla’s 6.4L and the Hyundai i30 turbo engine’s 7.5L. Our testing revealed 6.7L/100km, which is very impressive in the real world. Add to that, unlike some other Euro or turbo models, the Civic can run on 91-octane petrol, which can save at least $7 per full tank of fuel.

 

2017 Honda Civic VTi-LX – THE VERDICT

After some vicissitudes over the many iterations of the Honda Civic, it is great to see that the latest generation now stands to be a viable competitor in the tough small car market. It does not do anything overly outstanding to put it far out in front of the rivals, except maybe in the areas of build quality and real-world powertrain efficiency, but it does offer more forms and layouts than before which the market demands.

If you can look past those quirky shapes and the lack of a manual transmission, the Civic VTi-LX hatch provides many advanced features that will keep you safe and comfortable. The feature list justifies the higher price tag in the VTi-LX, with items that have previously only been offered in expensive luxury cars. We especially love the side-view camera for checking the blind spot; this is a great safety initiative and segment-separator.

As some final words of advice, we’d recommend this car to those who like something a little different albeit from a highly-regarded and dependable brand, and to those who enjoy effective innovation and evolutionary (and excellent) driving dynamics.

PROS:
– Finally, Honda succumbs to the use of turbo to bring that low rev boost
– Economical, even in real life conditions
– Innovative side-view camera
– Abundant variants to choose from
– Cabin space and built quality

CONS:
– Quirky design might be a bit overwhelming for some
– No manual version available, only CVT auto
– Long-sloped hatch can impede rear headroom

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

Mark is a contributing road tester at PerformanceDrive, and is an expert in technology and efficiency. He has had a passion for cars since before he can remember. With the soul and background of an IT nerd, Mark especially appreciates technology advances, safety, and attention to detail. His first car was a rusty powder blue 1972 Volvo 144 sedan. When he’s not road testing vehicles, his daily drive is still a Volvo only now it’s able to steer and brake all by itself.