Civic RS

Eleventh generation Honda Civic a great step forward

Walk up to this new eleventh generation Honda Civic RS in anything but 20-20 light and you’d swear it was something else. One fellow even said it reminded him of his old M5. Which pretty well wraps up how far out of its boots this car punches

Its broad feel is emphasised by short and wide DRL LED headlamps that link to the taillights through a sharp, long, and low beltline. Its poise is further emphasised by a flat bonnet, steeply raked A-pillars, and a large privacy glass greenhouse.

That’s all rounded off by blackened and body colour Brilliant Sporty Blue finishes, dual tailpipes and 18-inch matt black alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin rubber


The new Civic RS is completely different

In other words, the longer, broader, flatter and far more decisive new Civic is completely different to its somewhat frumpy predecessor. So much so, that this one leaves little to tell it apart from forthcoming big brother Type R. Its even now become a sedan, while the old one never quite knew of it was fish or fowl. Or should that be hatch or sedan?

We adore this RS spec. But it may be a touch too much for the fainter hearted. For that we expect to see a subtler chrome trimmed future version. Just like the previous softer launched Civic spawned a Sport version. All be that the other way around. They call the softer one EX in the ‘States, by the way.

The new Civic is 4,677 mm long, 1,802 mm wide, 1,415 mm high, and rides on a 2,735 mm wheelbase. Which means it is slightly lower and broader, and 25 mm longer than its predecessor on a 35 mm stretched wheelbase. Civic V11’s tauter ACE technology shell and uprated chassis promise improved handling, sharper steering, and a comfortable ride.


A superbly detailed cockpit

Step aboard and the superbly detailed Civic RS once again punches way above its weight. Its ‘human centred’ cabin boasts great attention to detail, highly efficient space utility and excellent visibility out. It’s a high-quality leather and suede finished room under a black headlining

Finely crafted switchgear and controls deliver a splendid tactile experience. Red lit by night, it has minimalist instrumentation and seamless interior surfaces, power adjustable heated seats and sport pedals.

The cabin is dominated by a metal honeycomb mesh panel stretching door to door across the dash. It creates a fine visual divide while neatly concealing the dual zone automatic climate control’s front vents.


Civic RS has Intuitive, clever interfaces

Civic RS has new CarPlay and Auto rich fast processor 9‑inch Advanced HMI Display Audio Connectivity. It even has a real volume knob, home, and back functions. Add funky Bose 12-speaker sound, wireless smartphone charging, and USB ports front and rear.

10.2‑inch interactive instrumentation enables scrolling through playlists, navigation, Honda Sensing functions and telephony. All via the multifunction steering wheel. Civic RS has power windows all round, auto wipers, cruise control, auto dimming interior and power wing mirrors too.

Active safety includes Vehicle Stability Assist, ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, Hill Start and Brake Hold. Add front, side, and curtain airbags, ISOFIX anchors and front seatbelt pretensioners. Rear seatbelt reminders, a driver attention monitor parking sensors and a rear view camera.

Civic RS

Safe as houses, too

Honda Sensing safety tech brings wider-angle, higher definition front camera more comprehensively detect driving conditions. Sensing kit includes adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning and mitigation braking. There’s also lane keeping and road departure mitigation, auto high beam, and a neat lane-watch camera.

So, what’s it like to drive. Fire it up via the well concealed start button. The 131 kW 1.5-litre turbo VTEC engine musters 240 Nm peak torque between 1,700 and 4,500 rpm. That’s up from 127 kW and 220 Nm in the previous car. It sounds quite cool too. For a hoarse turbo four-pot that is.

Coupled to an updated Step-Shift CVT automatic transmission with Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes, it promises improved power delivery, response, refinement, and fuel efficiency. And on that the Honda Civic RS certainly does deliver.

Civic RS

More grunt, more weight an RS conundrum?

Solid and comfy on the road, it’s still deft and fun to drive. The CVT box is probably the biggest improvement in this car. It melds a great chassis and a fine engine together far better than before. And if you don’t prod it, you’ll never know it’s CVT.

The engine is better too. You feel it right away. Although it did not translate to anything spectacular on our road test drag strip. In fact, it’s almost identical to the old one to a hundredth of a second all the way to 100 km/h. Which is probably to be executed considering this one weights 60kg more. To offset those power and grunt gains.

That said, the new one is significantly quicker where it counts, higher up the speed band and in overtaking. Fuel consumption remains 6.2 litres per hundred. Which our time with Civic RS proved a reasonable claim. So, you should get beyond 750 kilometres out of a 47 litre tank, driven with some nous.


It seems to be much more, but its just s Civic

It’s well backed too, with a 5-year or 200,000km warranty, and a 5-year 90,000 km service plan. A bit of an anomaly, but still!

All in all, it’s sometimes difficult to test a car when there is so little to criticise. Normally that happens when we consider more upmarket models from perhaps slightly more exotic marques. But this time it’s a humble six-hundred and fifty grand Honda we’re talking about.

And like we say up top, RS punches so far above its weight that you may be excused in some instances, for considering it to be far more upmarket. In those ways it certainly is. But it’s still just a Civic. Bravo Honda! – Michele Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Honda Civic 1.5T RS
Engine: 131kW 240Nm 1498cc turbo petrol I4
Drive: CVT FWD
0-60km/h:         3.75 sec
0-100km/h:        7.76 sec
0-160km/h:        18.33 sec
400m:             15.6 sec @ 149km/h
80-120km/h:       4.92 sec
120-160km/h:      7.86 sec
VMax:             200km/h
Fuel:             6.2 l/100km
CO2:              144 g/km
Warranty/Service: 5y 200K/5y 90K km
LIST PRICE:       R669K
RATED:            9
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