Smooth sailing in the Honda Civic RS

For many car manufacturers, the ‘RS’ badge is reserved for the sportiest variants in the model line-up, but this is not the case for the Honda Civic. Hoisted at the top of the Civic mast is the Type R and it’s lower down the run that you will find Civic RS, where RS stands for ‘road sailing’ to indicate that it drives as smoothly like a boat sails.

The Civic RS hatch is powered by a 1.5 litre DOHC VTEC turbo engine paired to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The front wheel drive copes well with the 127kW of power and 220Nm of torque. The official combined fuel consumption for the Civic RS is 6.4L/100km and for my week I used 8.4L/100km, but to be fair on the RS I was aggressive on the throttle.

Put the RS in Sport and engage the gearshift paddles on the leather-wrapped steering wheel so the gearbox is in manual mode and the VTEC engine really zings around 5,000rpm as you accelerate and it will hold a gear until 6,000rpm. I liked that the Civic does not revert back to auto in the gearbox on its own, so the paddles are there waiting for you to plough through them again. When I was coming down the gears using the paddles, I was surprised how early first gear was selected, usually cars will not let you select first gear until you have slowed significantly. Although the Civic RS has the aggressive ‘Type R’ looks at the back, just with only two exhaust outlets, and not much noise in either drive mode. Should you want a more ‘steady-as-she-goes’ driving experience you will find the engine is more relaxed in ‘Drive’ mode and there is an ECON mode as well for greater fuel saving.

The Phoenix Orange paint colour is only available on RS model and I think it pairs nicely with the black leather-appointed seat trim with red contrast stitching for a sporty look. The driver’s seat has 8-way power adjustment, with no memory settings, while the passenger seat has manual adjustment for forward/back and recline only. Both front seats are heated though, something you will really appreciate in winter. I also liked that soft plastics have been used across the dash and on the top of the doors.

The centre console has two quite deep cup holders, but one has is removable so can be placed in the other to raise it up a bit higher. At the front of centre console there is a ledge for your smart phone and at the back are holes for you to feed your power cord through to the 12V, USB and HDMI below. Under the arm rest is another USB port and a hard plastic storage cubby.

The 7-inch colour touchscreen is compatible with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and you will need to utilise your map apps to navigate your way as there is no sat nav in the RS. Voice control only works for making calls when voice tags have been assigned and button for voice control on the steering wheel has a silhouette of a man’s face on it like many car manufacturers. Media from the AM/FM radio, DAB, USB, iPod, Bluetooth, Audio apps and HDMI can be enjoyed on 452W premium sound system with 12 speakers including a subwoofer.

The rear seats in the Civic hatch have ample head and leg room for two adults and for children there are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but in reality there is only enough space for two car seats. The centre seat folds down as an arm rest with two rigid drink holders, one bigger than the other plus drink bottle storage in the door cubbies. There are no rear air vents or USB/12V outlets, but my children enjoyed having a speaker next to their heads.

The boot has manual open/close and is an okay size, but narrows at the back so would need to carry a stroller towards the front. It has a nifty removable cargo cover that goes to the side rather than back and a temporary spare tyre under the boot floor. For carrying larger items you have 60/40 split folding rear seats.

The Civic RS features the Honda Sensing suite of driver-assist technologies and this includes Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation System, Lane Keeping Assist System and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow. There is no blind spot monitoring, but in its place when you indicate left a camera displays what is on that side of your car on the central screen.

Passive safety features include front, side and full length curtain airbags and a multi-angle reversing camera with dynamic guidelines. All variants of the Honda Civic hatch (except Type R) from May 2017 onwards have a 5-star ANCAP safety rating (2017).

Some Honda vehicles now come with a 7-year warranty, but the Civic still comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 5-year Premium Roadside Assist. The service interval for the RS is every 12 months or 10,000km whichever occurs first and the cost for the first five basic services (excluding Adaptive Items) according Tailored Service Price Guide on the Honda Australia website is $1,485.

Prices start at $33,540 for the Honda Civic RS hatch excluding dealer delivery and on-road costs. Breeze into your preferred Honda dealer for more information on the Civic hatch and sedan range

ProsCons
Zingy engineQuiet exhaust
The sporty-looking interior trimNo sat nav
The Honda Sensing suite of driver-assist technologiesNo air vents or USB/12Vs for rear passengers

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.