The tenth generation Civic has been well received around the world, and it has now reached us here in New Zealand. It’s available as a four door sedan, in a range of four specifications. The base spec S, starting at just under $30k, has a 104kW 1.8l VTEC engine, and a good range of safety features. The other trim levels all feature a 1.5l VTEC turbo engine with 127kW, and various upgrades as you go up from Turbo, to RS, to NT.

The whole range has the same CVT transmission, and includes ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist, motion adaptive electric steering, stability and traction control, agile handling assist, front, side and curtain airbags (6 in total), straight driving assist, reversing camera with parking sensors, climate control, cruise control, and a 7” touchscreen entertainment system.

The Turbo range adds paddle shifters, 17” wheels, lanewatch camera, rear privacy glass, rain sensing wipers, auto headlights, power folding mirrors, proximity key with walk-away door locking, and push-button start. Our test car was the middle spec RS Turbo, priced at $39,900, which includes sports leather trim, electrically adjusted driver’s seat, Piano Black trims and 10 speaker 425w premium audio system with subwoofer.

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First Impressions

I immediately liked the looks of the RS Turbo Civic. Ours came in White Orchid Pearl, and I think it looks really good with the contrast of the black front grille, and the large red C-shaped rear lights. It’s available in eight colours, including a couple of silvers, black, bright red, and a lovely metallic blue.

The thin LED headlights give it a frowny, aggressive front end, reminiscent of the Accord and the previous Civic, but I think this new sedan version has much better overall proportions than the car I reviewed last year. It does look big though. It’s only 4mm wider than the last model but the pumped-up arches give it an impression of bulk.

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The Inside

The leather interior in the Civic looks great, with decent side bolsters and carbon-fibre textured detailing strips. It’s comfortable, too, the seats are supportive and just soft enough. The driver’s seat adjusts electrically, the passenger one manually. Both have three stage seat heaters.

It took a bit of fiddling to get the driving position how I wanted it, probably because Alan drove the car before me and he’s a giant. The steering wheel adjusts both up/down and in/out, but the lever is a bit hard to find, being way down under the steering column.

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The instruments are pretty cool. The section in front of the driver is split into three displays – two LED bars to the sides, for temperature and fuel level, and a large central colour LCD display for everything else. I really like it, it’s simple, readable and configurable how you want it.

There’s a 7 inch touch-screen media system in the centre of the dash, which also is used to control some of the functions of the climate control. There are knobs for the dual-zone temperatures, and buttons for demisters, but if you want to change the fan speed or what vents the air comes from, hit the climate button and use the screen to set it up. It actually works really well and is simple to use.

The stereo itself has radio and Bluetooth connectivity as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There’s a double level central console with the power and USB sockets hidden out of sight, but wires can be fed through to a cubby at the top. There are even little clips to stop the wires falling back down. In the central armrest cubby is a second USB socket but only the front one connects to the stereo, the rear on is just for charging. My phone connected without any hassles, and unlike a few cars I’ve tested recently it re-connected and switched to Bluetooth every time I started the car. The sound quality is excellent, clear with really deep bass from the subwoofer, and it goes nice and loud without any distortion.

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The steering wheel stereo controls are dual-function. They are clickable buttons, but also have capacitive touch function, so you can slide your thumb up and down the volume control as well as pressing it. Clever.

The rear seats are as comfortable as the fronts, and legroom is very impressive. I had loads of room behind the driver’s seat with it on my normal position. The boot is a pretty huge 517 litres with the seats up. The rear seats split 60/40 and drop flat for longer items, but the previous generation’s lift-up-or-fold-flat Magic Seats are gone. They were pretty clever and enabled different sized items to be carried but required the petrol tank to be under the front seats. As usual with a sedan, the shape of hole through to the boot stops you from putting some larger items in.

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The Drive

The Civic has keyless entry and start. Sitting in the driver’s seat causes the start/stop button to pulse with a soft white glow. “Press me!” It softly demands. When you do, the display fires up with a welcome animation, drawing the rev counter like a rainbow, then the lines fly up from the bottom. It’s both cheesy and a little bit cool.

As with most newer cars the central display has a message to agree to, to say you’ll use it responsibly. If you don’t press it, the display shows a pattern of stars, nothing else, until you give in and press it.

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Once on the road, the Civic feels impressively refined. The ride is well damped, with minimal body roll when pressing on. The electric power steering has good feel and is very precise. The previous Civic handled well, and this one is even better. It has a feature that Honda call Agile Handling Assist, which uses brake torque vectoring to brake the inside wheel and pull the car around corners. It’s a good system to improve handling without going as far as engaging stability control and it works really well.

When cruising along at 50 the Civic is whisper-quiet, with the loudest thing often being the aircon fans. Even at highway speeds, tyre noise on New Zealand’s metalled roads is better damped than a lot of cars.

As well as the reversing camera, which has three angles of view, in the passenger side mirror there’s a second camera pointing backwards. Honda call it a Lanewatch camera. When indicating left, its view is displayed on the main screen, showing a great view of the blind spot on that side. It can be turned on by pressing the end of one of the stalks if needed. Talking of the mirrors, the side mirrors are pretty big. Great for rear visibility, but occasionally I found the driver’s side mirror was exactly where I wanted to look when taking tight corners in car parks.

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The Civic is a great car for cruising along on long trips; it’s quite good to drive and handles well. But this is badged as an RS Turbo, which says to me it should feel like a hot hatch. Well, it doesn’t. At 127kW it’s not short on power, but because it has very smooth, progressive acceleration it doesn’t feel that fast. Combining that with the CVT transmission means it feels more like a Grand Tourer than an RS. Put your foot down to accelerate hard and you get the typical CVT characteristic of constant high revs and a disappointing drone from the engine. There are paddle shifters on the wheel, and an ‘S’ mode on the shifter which mimic a standard auto to some extent, but it really doesn’t give the car a performance or hot hatch feel. I found it better to crank up that excellent stereo and enjoy the drive. And it is fun to drive, don’t get me wrong, it’s just more grown-up than you might expect given the badging.

Our test car had a couple of issues. In heavy rain, the collision warning system kept buzzing and flashing red on the dash when nothing was in front of the car. One time it sounded constantly until the car was stopped and re-started. Twice it told me the key was not in the vehicle when it was in my trouser pocket. And on a few occasions when playing audio via Bluetooth it would play an entire track silently then play the rest with no issues. Honda provide an Unlimited KM five-year warranty and I’m sure they wouldn’t hesitate to resolve any issues like this.

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Another Point of View – Fred

First impression of the Civic. This is one nice looking car. That front with the headlight treatment is a big selling point. The rear too is well done with that nice little spoiler and cool taillight design. Also it’s BIG! It’s suddenly grown up to be an Accord or even new NSX lookalike – the front is really wide, and the whole car seems so big for a Civic. That’s not a bad thing – it’s just that my instant thought was to compare it to the original Civic from the 70s, and wow – no comparison at all. But hey that little turbo still gets this car moving.

I had two other quick impressions on getting behind the wheel; firstly, the suspension is incredibly quiet – not a noise to be heard. Second impression…man, that is a noisy engine. I don’t mean noisy in a sporty way, just a drone-type noise on acceleration. The CVT doesn’t do the Civic any favours for me. Sure it’s fine just dawdling around, but accelerate quickly and it’s the standard slushy slurry type of forward movement. Please Honda, just a nice 8-speed automatic for the next release. I love the HRV-like Brake Hold system, and hope it appears in all cars from all brands soon.


On the open road where I spent most of my time with the Civic, all was well (apart from the CVT). Quietness when cruising, comfy seats and an excellent sound system. Generally the handling/ride compromise was excellent, and possibly on par with the Subaru Levorg I had last week. In saying that, I didn’t have time to take the car somewhere to really push it around some bends.

The Civic wasn’t as good as I had hoped, but still a very nice ride.

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The Competition

Brand / ModelEnginePowerFuel L/100kmPrice Highest to Lowest
Kia Cerato LTD2.0l 4 cylinder112kW/192Nm7.1$39,990
Hyundau Elantra Elite2.0l 4 cylinder112kW/192Nm7.2$39,990
Subaru Legacy Sport Sedan2.5l 4 cylinder129kW/235Nm7.3$39,990
Holden Cruze SRI Z-Series1.6l 4 cylinder turbo132kW/230Nm7.9$39,990
Honda Civic RS Turbo1.5l 4 cylinder turbo127kW/220Nm6.0$39,900
Mazda3 SP25 Sedan2.5l 4 cylinder138kW/250Nm6.0$39,895
Toyota Corolla GLX Sedan1.8; 4 cylinder103kW/173Nm6.6$37,490
Mitsubishi Lanser SEi Sedan2.0l 4 cylinder115kW/201Nm7.2$36,990

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The pros and cons

ProsCons
  • Excellent handling
  • Great stereo
  • Spacious
  • Very refined
  • Engine noise/drone on acceleration
  • That CVT
  • Our test car had a couple of problems

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What we think

The 10th generation Civic is a refined, well specced and good value car. It handles impressively well and has decent power. As an enthusiast driver I’m not a fan of the CVT, but it does add to the refinement and grand-tourer feel of the car. If you’re looking for a spacious and comfortable family car which you could enjoy on on a long trip, but arrive feeling refreshed, the Civic would be a great choice.

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Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5

Vehicle TypeMedium Sedan
Starting Price$29,900 + on-road costs (Non-turbo Civic S)

$35,500 + on-road costs (Turbo)

Tested Price$39,900 + on-road costs
Engine1.5 litre, 4 Cylinder, 16 valve, VTEC Turbo, intercooled, chain drive DOHC with Earth Dreams Direct Injection Technology
TransmissionAutomatic CVT with G Design Shift and 7 speed paddle shifters
0 – 100 kphNot quoted
Kerb Weight1326 kg
Length x Width x Height4644 x 1799 x 1416 mm
Cargo Capacity517 Litres
Fuel Tank47 litres
ANCAP Safety Ratings5 stars
Warranty5 year unlimited kilometre warranty

5 year roadside assist

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I love everything about cars! Driving, looking at them, modifying. It's great to see what people do with cars, the different car cultures. If I was rich, my garage would be bigger than my house!

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