REVIEW: New Honda Civic RS is not quite racy but certainly sophisticated and stylish

Published Dec 26, 2022


Review: Honda Civic Sedan 1.5T RS

Pretoria - Known for their reliability, safety and premium offerings, Honda has been part of the South African motoring landscape since the early 1980s. From the first Ballades to the impressive and bonkers Civic Type R we’ve had an affinity with them for a long time.

And as the world (sadly) moves further away from sculptured sedans towards SUVs, so much so that some manufacturers have completely forsaken them, it’s heartening to see Honda is bucking the trend with the Civic, and in this case the RS.

It’s the 11th generation of the Honda Civic, which tells you something about its longevity and the RS is the only iteration available until we get the new Type R, hopefully in the not too distant future.

I’ve always liked the Civic’s design with its sloped roof, gentle curves and aggressive front end and in the case of the RS it’s no different. Matte black 18-inch alloys, black boot spoiler, door handles, mirrors and sporty RS decals round off a sporty looking exterior.

Honda has tweaked the previous generation’s 1.5-litre petrol engine with a redesigned turbo, improving its outputs by 4kW to 131kW and 20Nm to 240Nm, that power the front wheels via a CVT transmission.

The RS’s interior oozes upmarket both in terms of ambience and ergonomics. Quality soft touch surfaces abound and the dash is one of the most attractive in the business.

The RS’s interior oozes upmarket both in terms of ambience and ergonomics. Quality soft touch surfaces abound and the dash is one of the most attractive in the business.

Behind the steering wheel is a 10.2-inch TFT digital instrument cluster that provides you with all the driving information you need and in the centre a nine-inch dash mounted infotainment system with decent graphics and quick response to inputs.

In a nod to keeping things simple thank goodness not everything is digital. There’s a volume control dial and climate control dials with a classy chrome finish.

The heated and power adjustable seats provide decent support and are upholstered with leather and suede with red stitching adding to the interior’s classy feel.

Honda has loaded a ton of hi-tech features that include adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and road departure mitigation to name a few.

A refined 12-speaker Bose audio system provides excellent sound whether it’s Classic FM or whatever the latest teenage sensation is.

Driving the Honda Civic provided a mixed bag of opinion.

In days gone by you could count on regular Honda engines to provide a hint of drama and high revving thrills and from the outside the CR gives the impression of being exactly that.

As a purist though you’ll have to wait for the Civic Type R because while the CR is a very decent drive, it lacks drama and settles into being a comfortable, decent more family oriented car.

Not that that’s a bad thing mind you, but you get the idea that impressive technology and features have perhaps taken precedence over exciting driving characteristics.

Personally I blame the CVT box for that because while they have improved considerably over the last few years the main reason for its existence is better fuel economy and it's cheaper to produce, install and maintain.

Once you understand that and dial down your excitement level the CR becomes a more than decent drive that will occasionally in Sport Mode (there’s also Eco and Normal) and using the paddles elicit a smile.

The Honda CVT is certainly one of the better ones with none of that droning hum when you push it while passing slower traffic and at highway cruising speeds it moves along effortlessly.

The suspension leans towards firm but not uncomfortably so, handling our crumbling roads comfortably and when you do decide to give it some hard right foot the traditional well-mannered Civic characteristics come to the fore.

With four adults the turbo motor performs fine at high altitude and this is probably more its forte.

The Honda Civic RS is designed to be a comfortable sedan that’s equally at home on the school run as it is driving to a holiday destination. It may not have snap, crackle and pop but it performs exactly as potential owners want and that’s ultimately what drives cars off the showroom floor.

It’s priced at R669 000 and comes with a five-year/200 000km warranty, and a five-year/90 000km service plan as well as three-year AA roadside assistance.

FACTS: Honda Civic sedan 1.5T RS

Price: R669 000

Engine: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, turbopetrol

Gearbox: CVT

Drive: Front-wheel drive

Power: 131kW from 6 000rpm

Torque: 240Nm from 1 700rpm

0-100km/h: 8.3 seconds (claimed)

Top speed: 200km/h (claimed)

Fuel use, mixed: 6.2 l/100km (claimed)

Fuel tank capacity: 47 litres

Kerb weight: 1 348kg

Boot volume: 495 litres

Warranty: 5-year/200 000km

Service plan: 5-year/90 000km