2022 Honda Civic VTi LX review (video)

Mark Davis

It’s a sombre story for a small car favourite with a legacy that spans over five decades. The 11th-generation Honda Civic is an attractive, well-packaged, sporty small car that is so easy to fall in love with. It takes us back to the old Honda heritage we became fond of in the early 2000s, bringing us models like the Accord Euro and Integra with their sporty appeal.

But the new Civic comes at such an outrageous cost that it cannot possibly compete. Partly because, for now, Australia only gets the top spec VTi LX variant in hatch form. Is Honda putting a final nail in its own coffin for the much-loved nameplate?

Sales numbers also reveal the same story. According to VFACTS, for the month of August 2022, a miserly 53 new Civics were sold; just 0.7 per cent share of the small car market. And only 545 units have been sold from January to August 2022. That is down from 2253 units in the same period in 2021.

Hold your breath. The starting price for the lone wolf VTi LX Civic is $47,200 (excluding on-road costs) – that’s around $10,000 more than the previous VTi LX model. Top spec models of the competition do not come close to this price. And entry levels of the Hyundai i30, Kia Cerato, Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 are all less than $27,000 (MLP). Surely Honda could offer a peeled-back manual variant to compete? A hybrid model and the renowned Type R are around the corner, but will doubtfully offer a reprieve on the price.

Okay, let’s start breathing, forget about the price for the moment and take the Civic for what it is.

2022 Honda Civic VTi LX – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder
Output: 131kW@6000rpm / 240Nm@1700-4500rpm
Transmission: CVT auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 18×8.0, 235/40
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1358kg
Power-to-weight: 10.36:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 6.3L/100km
Economy during test: 6.9L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 47L/91 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 20.79kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.19 seconds*
0-100km/h: 8.35 seconds*
60-110km/h: 5.47 seconds*
1/4 mile: 16.12 seconds at 147.0km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.634g
100-0km/h braking: 2.91 seconds at 36.82 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.290g
Decibel at idle: 38*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 77*
Priced from: $47,200[/column][end_columns]

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

2022 Honda Civic VTi LX – THE PACKAGE

What is worth raving about is the completely new design. Gone is that chunky external styling with oversized fenders and lots of triangular shards. Now, it is refreshed with a smoother, elegant yet athletic style. We love it. The silhouette looks curvy and sporty with its longer front, shorter rear, and reduced overhang. Almost like a BR-Z. We love the embedded front lights and grille, and the contrasting glossy black alloys.

We think the interior is also ahead of the class in terms of style and practicality. It goes with an interesting honeycomb dash design that looks like chicken wire – but it looks cool. It seamlessly disguises the air vents behind it. There are no silly jagged designs, and buttons are arranged in an orderly way. As usual from Honda, the quality of materials feels premium. Levels of elegance are boosted with white LED lighting and dimpled chrome dial surrounds. For those who like to know where their cars come from, manufacturing of the Civic has moved back to Japan – it was previously built in Thailand.

The windscreen seems large and the dash sits low, which gives an airy and roomy feel. The driver’s seat is very liveable thanks to large spaces to store your items, large cup holders that fit bottles, an eight-way power adjustable seat, and heaps of leg, shoulder, and hip room. The front passenger also scores a four-way power adjustable seat. Passengers in the rear are not forgotten with rear air vents, and a surprising amount of legroom for a hatch. But there are no charging options in the back.

In terms of tech, Honda equips the Civic with a 9.0-inch touch-screen (the biggest from Honda so far), and a high-resolution menu design. A huge improvement over the previous generation’s menu layout, it comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, sat-nav, Bluetooth and digital radio. The instrument cluster is also semi digital with a 7.0-inch LCD screen. It splits driving info and the tacho onto the screen, and the speedo remains analogue. The way both dials look identical even though one is digital is very seamless. We love the 12-speaker Bose sound system, too, as it packs plenty of bass with its subwoofer. It’s also a first for Honda to use a branded system.

Yet another competitive attribute is boot space. The VDA standard measures it at a huge 449 litres. That makes it bigger than the Corolla hatch’s 333 litres, the Mazda3 hatch’s 295 litres, the Hyundai i30 hatch’s 395 litres, and the Kia Cerato hatch’s 428 litres. But it does cheat by using a tyre repair kit instead of supplying a spare alloy or even a space-saver spare.

The standard safety list is comprehensive, too. You get autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, lane-keep and lane-departure assist with blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, auto high-beam, rain-sensing wipers, and a rear-view camera.

Honda offers a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and five years of complimentary roadside assistance. Servicing is required every 10,000km or 12 months. The brand also promises the first five scheduled services to fall under $200.

2022 Honda Civic VTi LX – THE DRIVE

The single engine offered is all the Civic needs as it is a good one. It is a small 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that produces an impressive 131kW and 240Nm. A wonderfully zippy, light and liveable engine that effortlessly rolls up to speed when driving sensibly. Working it up to 60km/h feels unforced as the turbo boosts things brilliantly. If you want more, push it hard as there is some VTEC magic high in the rev range. We timed 0-100km/h in a best of 8.35 seconds using a Vbox Sport and private road.

It is carried along by a constantly variable automatic transmission (CVT). This gearbox goes a long way to giving it that light and zippy feel. Only, when you’re heavy on the accelerator, it sounds struggled and tinny. If only a manual gearbox were offered, this Civic would make such a fun and energetic city hopper.

The CVT auto also contributes to a commendable fuel consumption – better than the market average. It officially burns 6.3L/100km on the combined cycle, and our average over 400km of driving turned around 6.9L/100km. Also a plus, it can run on the base 91 RON petrol. It’s a few dollars cheaper to fill every tank.

In the driver’s seat, the Civic feels just as sporty as it looks. It has an encouraging sense of lightness around corners, making it a truly thrilling and zippy hatch to drive. It also has an impeccable ability to handle bumps, even absorbing bigger bumps mid-corner without disruption. We think the suspension is the perfect balance between softness for comfort without going sloppy to lose its athletic feel.

The wheelbase is 35mm longer and the rear track is 12mm wider than the predecessor, both helping to improve straight-line stability, steering response and sheer cornering grip. The dual-pinion motion adaptive electronic power steering is also appropriately light in carparks but weighty and sturdy enough for higher-tempo speeds. It strikes a brilliant balance, and feels mechanical and full of communication.

Overall, this definitely has the makings for a great little hatchback. It offers all of the good-feel driving characteristics that generations of Civic have almost always provided, but blends in a new level of refinement and cornering capability. It’s also a peaceful cruiser and works well in the city thanks to excellent forward visibility.

2022 Honda Civic VTi LX – THE VIDEO

2022 Honda Civic VTi LX – THE VERDICT

The new Civic story is a sad one because we love it so much – and we’re deeply looking forward to the new Type R version. As it is though, only hardcore, loyal Honda fans would bother to buy one because the price is simply far too high for this segment – it’s nudging Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz figures.

But if price is out of the equation, the 11th generation Civic is this writer’s pick of the bunch. You get a sexy little hatch that is zippy and fun to drive. It is also feature-packed and harvests that Japanese build quality from Honda from the early 2000s. C’mon Honda, release a peeled-back spec with a manual and you might sell a lot more than 53 units a month.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– Brilliant external design takes us back to when Honda was in with the cool gang of the ’90s
– Interior feels premium in quality yet very practical
– Zippy and frugal engine
– One of the biggest boots in its class
– Gold star for driving dynamics
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Undoubtedly, the price is too high
– Only one variant, shape, transmission and spec to choose from
– No spare wheel, not even a space saver
– CVT auto takes the sporty driving feel down a notch; no manual[/column][end_columns]

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

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