The Honda Civic sedan received a mid-life refresh late last year and we’ve spent some time behind the wheel of this mid-spec model the 1.8 Elegance arguably the sweet-spot of the range.This model is the 10th generation Civic and embodies a fairly overt departure from the Civic sedans of the early 2000s. It has a low and wide stance, the ride height is only 127 mm but we assure you that’s more than enough to travel over the everyday lumps and bumps you may encounter.
The subtly updated exterior offerers the Civic an upmarket aesthetic with dual-colour alloy wheels and lashings of chrome about the front grille. There are sharply chiselled lines on the front end and a proud three-dimensional bumper. The rear swoops down similar to that of GT four-door coupè but a regular sedan style boot-lid remains melding into a short rear overhang. I’ve found myself liking the design from some angles and not from others. As ever, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Once inside it’s refreshing to sit in a vehicle with a low easy to adjust seating position. Unlike the Corolla the Civic offers oodles of adjustment in the steering column and the seat can be jacked up nice and low to the ground. Regardless of your seating position, you can always see the carved bonnet wings making it easy to place the car on the road. The interior materials are mostly very posh and feel rock solid. Soft leather seats, pleasantly tactile switches and soft-touch finishes on the dashboard and in the door inserts all make for an upmarket feeling cabin. There are, however, some hard scratchy plastics on the lower reaches of the facia but nothing that doesn’t feel absolutely nailed together. The overall high-quality materials are great but its the intuitiveness of the layout that really impresses with all the controls falling easily to hand. This car was designed for ease of use, for example, the touchscreen offers physical shortcut buttons and a volume knob. Also, Honda has not fallen for the trick of having the climate control completely operated from the touchscreen. There are buttons to control the fan speed ant knobs for the dual-zone climate control. It seems as though some manufacturers overlook this being distracted by the unnecessary use of the infotainment centre. It’s often too fiddly and distracting and Honda has managed to incorporate a good balance between the two. A clear-to-read digital drivers display matches the easy to use infotainment system and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available too.
On the road the Civic prefers a laid-back driving style and it rewards you for doing so. The CVT will allow the 1.8-litre motor to comfortably tick along at a low 1 500 rpm at a 110 km cruise with road noise pleasantly hushed thanks to the Yokohama Advan dB tyres. In terms of comfort and suspension absorption, the McPherson strut system up-front and the multi-link setup at the rear do a good job of keeping the ride supple as well as body roll in check. It breathes with the road in a similar fashion to that of a vehicle fitted with adaptive suspension. The Civic is refined and is one of the quietest rides around which is high praise for a regular no-frills sedan but it is let down by a lack of overtaking punch. If you mash the pedal you won’t make much more progress than you would at half throttle. If you don’t hurry along fuel efficiency is more than acceptable for a vehicle of this size. We tested 6.3 L/100 km over our test period exactly matching the manufactures claim. Take it easy and you’ll make the progress you’d need to if you’re in a hurry needing to overtake slower moving traffic on a dual-lane motorway you will be disappointed.
The Civic sedan has been updated with just enough class and polish to justify the price. It’s a quiet and comfortable cruiser that’s larger inside than the dimensions suggest. If you can forgive the lacklustre engine and enjoy a smooth cosseting ride, the Civic 1.8i Executive offers much in a dwindling segment.
In a nutshell –
Honda Civic 1.8 Executive CVT
Standard heated seats, spacious interior, comfortable and supportive seats, the rock-solid sense of Japanese reliability
Performance is sedate and more expensive compared to the equivalent Corolla makes it a hard sell
Engine: 1 799 cc, four-cylinder petrol
Power: 104 kW @ 6 500 rpm, 174 Nm @ 4 300 rpm
Performance: 0-100km/h 10.1 sec (claimed), top speed 200 km/h
Tyres: 215/55 R16 Yokohama Advan dB
Economy: 6.3 l/100 km (claimed)
Transmission: CVT automatic
Luggage capacity: 430 litres
Fuel tank: 47 litres
Price: R408 500