Honda’s Civic RS hatch isn’t what it seems
RS BADGE IS A MISNOMER
Honda customarily applies the RS badge to some of its sportier versions. That isn't the case here. It is effectively a styling pack: body kit, LED headlamps and grippier 17-inch tyres than its siblings, with the hatch adding centre-mounted dual exhausts.
Those tyres means the RS rides a touch rougher over urban city bumps but it atones by steering and cornering with marginally more precision than the already good regular versions.
Sadly, there's but no more RS-style urgency out of the 127kW/220Nm 1.5-litre turbo it shares with other hi-spec Civics. The continuously variable transmission is passable rather than pleasing.
BUYERS HAVE TAKEN TO IT
The Civic isn't challenging the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla for sales leadership in the small car segment … but it is almost matching the combined sales of the Ford Focus and Holden Astra.
That's no mean feat given the fact the Civic is about $2000 dearer than a comparable Holden. For the record, Honda sold almost 8600 Civics to the end of July, up more than 12 per cent on last year.
IT'S A GOOD TIME TO BUY
Drive-away pricing for the Civic RS hatch line-up starts at $35,200 and tops out at $36,300, depending on state. The sedan ranges from $35,200-$35,800. For the money you get a sporty body kit, electric sunroof and leather-trimmed upholstery with heated front seats.
Servicing is at intervals of 12 months/10,000km and each visit is capped at $281. Claimed average thirst is 6.1L/100km (8.1L city) and it is happy to take regular unleaded fuel.
INTERIOR IS SPACIOUS
There's no shortage of room inside the hatch. Seat and steering wheel adjustment means drivers should readily find a comfortable position. Rear leg and headroom will easily accommodate big adults but the boot-mounted subwoofer strips the cargo capacity from 414L to 330L.
Honda's clever cargo cover is mounted on the side to avoid owners having to physically remove (then find somewhere to store) the conventional bar when carrying bulky items. The only downside is the absence of adjustable rear air vents.
ACTIVE SAFETY IS ABSENT
Autonomous emergency braking isn't available on the Civic RS - you have to buy the top-tier VTi-LX for active aids. It's a big omission, particularly as buyers of lower-spec versions can't even tick an options box to add the sensors and software.
ANCAP rates the Civic as a five-star car based on 2017 criteria, with a score of 34.68/37 points reflecting its physical solidity and six airbags. The RS picks up a camera mounted in the passenger-side mirror - when turning left, it projects the view from that side on to the seven-inch infotainment screen.