Ah, the 2017 Civic. Honda is certainly putting a lot of attention back to the compact car segment because it’s a winner in every sense of the word. It’s sleek, well packaged, and ten times more thought of than the model it replaces. And while the vast majority of attention has been taken over by the RS Turbo, the base variant, the 1.8 E, deserves more likes, mentions, and shares. Why? Because it’s actually the better value of the two Civic variants.
Getting to the heart of the matter, the Civic 1.8 E offers surprisingly good pace. Though the 1.8-liter normally aspirated four-cylinder carried over from the previous Civic and shared with the HR-V don’t exactly shout “sporty performance”, you’ll be hard-pressed to notice 90 percent of the time. Despite being paired with a potentially fun-sapping CVT, there’s actually power even from the low-end. Whether you’re just tapping lightly or burying the throttle halfway, the Civic goes from stoplight to stoplight, Makati intersection to Makati intersection with ease and smoothness. Even when you find yourself cruising on the expressway, you’ll wonder why you’ll have pay for the additional premium for that turbocharged engine.
It’s only when you get to the last 10 percent where the 141 horsepower output starts to feel, well, slow. Floor the throttle or command an overtaking maneuver and you can imagine the engine telling you: “Seriously? You want me to do what?” a split-second before the CVT shuttles its ratios and drones the heck out of the engine. The engine’s sweet spot is so narrow that anything close to spirited driving produces this result. Paddle shifters would have helped, but there’s nada on this Civic. Meanwhile, turning off the ECON gives more punch at the expense of smoothness (the CVT tends to hold revs long). Still, tune into your more practical side and the 1.8 E does 8.78 km/L—some 15 percent better mileage than the RS Turbo in heavy traffic.
Apart from improving the riding comfort, the Civic also has good road manners. The steering ratio can and will take you by surprise, especially when executing parking maneuvers, but it gifts this big-sized Civic agility. Enter into a curve and it turns obediently. Some body roll is built into the chassis, necessitating a small steering correction, but the Civic still manages to conduct itself neatly. Thankfully, that agility doesn’t make the Civic more tiring to drive. As the speeds go up, the steering and suspension tightens up making it comfortable long distance cruiser as well. If there’s one complaint, it’s the lack of driver feedback. Though there are touches of brilliance here and there, it feels disconnected most of the time.
Although enthusiasts will surely clamor for more driving feedback, there’s no question that the Civic’s an ergonomic delight. The 1.8 E loses the convenience of the powered driver’s seat, but that’s no big thing. Finding the most comfortable driving position is easy thanks to the multitude of adjustments to the seats and steering column. The seats themselves feel less supportive than the leather ones in the RS Turbo, but they offer enough bolstering and support to withstand hours in traffic nonetheless. Visibility is also good, most especially so in the front where the thin A-pillars and hood bulges (that act as corner markers) make slotting the Civic in and out of tight spaces easy.
Now, if there’s one thing Honda should consider improving, it’s the addition of physical buttons or controls for the audio. It’s a step up for them to do so with the climate control, but adding rotary knobs or at least tactile physical buttons to the volume at least would have made things a lot less complicated. As it is, the touchscreen feels slightly laggy and the electrostatic volume control on the steering wheel doesn’t help either.
Style-wise the dashboard is laid out for easy operation rather than outright style. Materials as well as fit and finish have been upped from before, but there are still pockets of hard plastics poking out here and there. Overall, the cabin feels durable and well-wearing though there are some bits like the interior door handles that show noticeable paint chipping and this particular unit has done less than 4,000 kilometers. That criticism aside, all’s well in here: there’s an abundance of room for both front and rear occupants while also offering good storage for items like sunglasses, loose change, and even smartphones. There’s just one cup holder upfront, but again you’re supposed to be driving a car, not drinking in it.
Being the entry-level variant, the 1.8 E has less equipment compared to the flagship RS Turbo. That’s a given. But surprisingly, you’re not feeling robbed in anyway. With the exception of a leather steering wheel, which should have been standard in 2017, it’s still got automatic climate control, full-colored TFT gauges with animations and stuff, automatic LED headlights, cruise control, and an Android-based touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and smartphone mirroring.
Plus, almost a year on after its Philippine launch, the Civic remains a head turner. Though some have criticized the design to be fussy, with a mismatched front and rear end, it’s still unique and eye-catching. The design also manages to play up the size advantage, exaggerating its girth, especially the length and width. The front does well to project elegance thanks to its wide, confident face and a chrome solid wing grille that’s been pushed out to the edges. Meanwhile, at the back, it’s sporty with its fastback roofline and C-shaped taillights. Say what you want about the design, but there’s no doubt that this Civic commands your attention.
Although most new Civic buyers would surely wish to have an RS Turbo parked in their garage, the 1.8 E is more than enough car. Unlike other base variants, it actually feels like a complete package. Stuck in the confines of city traffic, this base model Civic performs just as well as its sportier, turbocharged sibling. And even if you occasionally need to go up Baguio or go down to Batangas, this car is more than capable. With a solid foundation and good equipment, it surely doesn’t feel scrimped down. This is the every man’s Civic, our Civic.
2017 Honda Civic 1.8 E
|Ownership||2017 Honda Civic 1.8 E|
|Vehicle Classification||Compact Sedan|
|Body Type||4-door Sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||141 @ 6,500|
|Nm @ rpm||174 @ 4,300|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed||8.78 km/L @ 16 km/h|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,239|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 215/55 R 16 H (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||No, with Reverse Camera|
|Other Safety Features||No|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjust||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Urethane|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|# of Speakers||6|