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Thursday, March 3, 2022

Just How Good Is The Base 2022 Honda Civic S Turbo?


Four hundred. That’s the number of 11th generation Civics Honda Cars Philippines has been able to sell so far since its launch in November. That may not seem like a large number, but putting things into context, that’s about four units a day; not bad for what the Japanese carmaker has recognized as a market reduced to a mere sliver of what it once was during its heyday.

Now, if you think that the majority of the sales figures is down to the top-of-the-line Civic RS, think again. Thanks to a tighter than expected supply and the arrival of the mid-range Civic V just this month, the best-selling model is actually this: the entry-level Civic S.


Suffice to say, it doesn’t get as much attention as its flashier, slightly handsomer siblings. But, the fact of the matter is: at P 1.290 million, it is, in principle, a great alternative for those who don’t want a crossover or SUV. Moreover, because it has the same main ingredients as the higher-end Civic V and Civic RS—the VTEC Turbo engine and Honda SENSING driver assist system—some may think, why pay more to play? It’s basically the same car, right?

Well, stripping everything down to the basics, yes, that is true. It has the same platform. It has the same turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. It makes the same sort of power and torque—178 horsepower and 240 Nm. It even has the same CVT gearbox. Yes, the Civic RS does have flappy paddles and an additional Sport mode, but in the greater scheme of things, it’s the same 11th generation Civic.


In short, despite being a base model, the Civic S lives up to its nameplate’s reputation of being an approachable, yet sporty everyday car. Things start the moment you settle into the driver’s seat. The seating position is low; lower than even the 10th generation Civic. If you’re used to driving something taller, this feeling will strike you as odd. However, a few minutes in, and you quickly get used to it. Only then, do you realize the genius behind Honda’s madness. It sounds like a cliché, but the low-set driving position feels like you’re one with the car—like you’re wearing a pair of stretchy pants. The visibility works out great too with the hood in full view; the thinner A-pillars and re-positioned side mirrors also work to cut down the blind spots. The tall rear parcel shelf obscures the backend, so thankfully, a rear-view camera is standard.

The Civic also scores high in terms of ergonomics. All the controls—from the basic driver controls to the most obscure of buttons are positioned excellently, and in places where you expect to find them. With Honda SENSING standard even on this base Civic S trim, the steering wheel contains no less than 13 buttons, and a scroll wheel on the left-side. It looks overwhelming at first, but Honda’s done their homework here. The left bank of buttons controls the infotainment—volume, hands-free commands, next/previous track and the multi-information display, while the right bank is exclusively for controlling Honda SENSING functions. Meanwhile, in front of the driver is a partial digital instrumentation with the speedometer being analog.


Towards the center, the Civic S gets a 7-inch touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The layout is simple and straight to the point (it doesn’t even have a home screen) making it easy to learn and master. The graphics, and more importantly, the response times is a clear upgrade from the slow and laggy system from before. Kudos to Honda for programming the right knob to double as a scroll wheel too—perfect if you don’t want to get that touchscreen all too grimy with Cheetos fingers. Additional 10 points for keeping the climate control functions as large, easy to decipher knobs.

Like its excellent ergonomics, it’s also hard to question the Civic’s driving qualities. Despite the small bump in power, Honda engineers worked to reduce the turbo lag and improve mid-range punch. It has 100 percent worked. The engine never feels stressed, and it always feels like it’s got power in reserve. Trying to overtake on an uphill bend? No worries. Just squeeze the throttle, and the VTEC Turbo engine delivers the goods. It won’t shove or dig you into your seat; it’s not that sort of sports sedan. Instead, it’s all about having power and torque whenever you need or demand it.


Then, there’s the gearbox. Admittedly, the previous generation Civic’s CVT needed some prodding just to get it to work in sync with the engine, but not anymore. Thanks to a built-in shift logic, it’s surprisingly responsive. Flog the accelerator, and the kickdown is near instantaneous. And despite being a turbocharged engine, it actually loves to rev. Believe it or not, you’re not missing the paddle shifters or a Sport mode here. And even after a day of maniacal driving it still managed to reach 13.33 km/L (average speed of 42 km/h).

As a daily driver, the Civic also has impeccable road manners. Despite running on skinner, taller tires (the Civic S runs on 215/55R16s), the steering has this feeling of immediacy that the chassis can cash in. Honda says its down to some trick with the suspension geometry (it requires a special kind of alignment—so take note, aftermarket peeps), but whatever the case, it works. Throw it into a series of sweeping bends, and it’s got copious amounts of grip from the chassis. Not once will you hear the tires screech in protest. On straighter pieces of road, the NVH has been improved as well, though some road noises do manage to penetrate into the cabin. In terms of ride, it’s also mighty capable of absorbing all sorts of cracks and potholes. The low 134 mm ground clearance was never an issue, but the longer front overhang does result in some scraping if you take steep driveways too fast.


Great and solid as the all-new Civic’s foundations are, this “Standard” (yes, the “S” variant means “Standard), by and large, feels like a fleet car. It’s as if the turbo engine and Honda SENSING system cost them a pretty penny that to meet the advertised list price, they had to make big sacrifices along the way. Need to open the doors? Sorry, no smart keyless entry for you. Instead, you have to fumble for the key fob (and that’s despite having a push-button starter). Do you like impressing your friends? Well, they won’t like the hard door plastics and scratchy fabric seats. They might even call you out for the halogen, yes, halogen headlights (there are no fog lamps as well). Do you regularly bring family along for the ride? Hope they don’t mind sweating at the back because there are no AC vents or even USB chargers at the back.

There’s no doubting that the all-new Civic’s a great compact sedan—perhaps the best one out there—but the Civic S just compromised too much. Even if it’s at a P 208,000 premium (P 1.498 million), the mid-grade Civic V seems to be at the sweet spot. Ultimately, the Civic S will still appeal to those who’re on a tight budget, but still want a sporty sedan to drive every single day. Or maybe, to those who want to come up with their next aftermarket project car. Whatever the case, because this market’s shrinking in favor of SUVs and crossovers, those aren’t big numbers. And Honda Cars Philippines knows that too. As the Civic V grade starts to arrive at dealerships, they see that as their bread-and-butter model in an increasingly disappearing compact car segment.

39 comments:

  1. The Civic is a very great car, has turbo and Honda Sensing, but the newly-launched Geely Emgrand (yes, only NA engine, and yes, it's not a Honda) is still a compelling buy. Built on the same platform as the splendid Coolray, plus luxury cabin materials and tech at a very affordable price, the Emgrand challenges both subcompact and compact sedans. Good job Geely.
    P.S. Hope Geely will offer in the future a turbocharged Emgrand.

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    1. did you just compare some chinese crap to the civic? seriously?

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    2. Did you just call Geely 'chinese crap'? Seriously?
      Tell that to the thousands of happy owners of Geely vehicles here in the Phils.

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    3. yeah so what? numbers doesn't mean shyt. they can sell millions for all we care and still be crap

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    4. Let's see if they're all still happy after 3-5 years ha. That cost-cutting has real, tangible impact on several aspects of building & supporting a model.

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    5. Bakit galit ka sa Chinese cars? Bec you can't afford to buy one haha.

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    6. Are Chinese cars more expensive than Japanese?

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    7. Keep it cool guys.

      Perhaps he/she mentioned Geely Emgrand because of its dimension - which borders compact size. The Geely Preface is the proper contender though.

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    8. Yes RG, the comparison is about the size (as compact sedans). Though the Emgrand is priced in the range of subcompact sedans.

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    9. I saw a display unit last night at a mall - the interior design and feel are really a segment or two higher. The door closes with a satisfying thud.

      Visual impression on the exterior though - still generally looks a subcompact to me.

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    10. I also inspected one in the showroom. The only complaint I have is that the seating position is too low even at the highest setting. Exterior is a bit generic and underwhelming in the flesh.

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    11. The civic I mean. Geely emgrand, I have not yet seen one.

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    12. Ang gulo mo kausap Asimo. Hindi n tuloy sumagot si RG.

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    13. Tungkol sa civic kasi yung article. Ewan ko bakit biglang may pinipilit isingit yung emgrand dito.

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    14. My apologies - I was not clear in my last post. I was referring to Geely Emgrand the car I saw at a mall. I was making a point that though on paper Geely Emgrand's is reaching (or has reached) compact dimensions - to me still looks very much a sub-compact compared to the new Civic. Though Geely Emgrand definitely looks larger than Vios, Almera and City.

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    15. the first guy/gal who replied and said geely is crap is funny, geely maybe chinese but its not crap. also, its reasonable to compare emgrand with civic because of emgrand's size. this is especially true to first time car buyers with deep enough pockets, the name civic wont mean a thing to them and could be swayed by the features of emgrand (e.g. panoramic roof) in a much much cheaper price. civic is definitely better overall but most people wont know that of course.

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    16. First time car buyers with Civic money (1.3-1.7M) will definitely NOT buy an Emgrand. If they won't go for the Civic, they'll go for the Mazda 3, Corolla Altis, etc. If not, they'll cross shop with higher segment vehicles like the HRV, CRV, etc. They may go for the Coolray, Okavango, and Azkarra, but definitely not the Emgrand.

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    17. to anonymous at 4:56PM

      if one has a 1.3M or more budget, he would not consider an emgrand over a civic no matter how dumb or noob that person is. trust me.

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    18. i wont argue with you about that because those are in the same segment and are in the same price range, however not everyone is well informed like us, there are people who can afford a civic but would settle on a much much cheaper car simply because its more than enough for them, they just need a car, i personally know some couples (newly wed who chose to just buy a vios instead of a fortuner because they said they dont have kids yet, i advised them that cars areliek investment and future proofing is good but they didnt listen and said they would just add the money for the house, i told them then that they should go for the corolla instead of the vios and they said they dont know really care about the difference since they are both "cars" (sedan), and an old couple who owns an old cr-v who could afford an s class (both heads of their division, they make 600k a month with just their base salaries combined) but bought a city because they said they just wanted something new.

      to these people cars are just cars and they wouldnt bother to learn the difference, just because their pockets are on another level doesnt mean they will use it on that level,the majority of car owners ar elike them. dont forget that ford territory is crap but is selling fast in its segment. majority of people cant tell and wont bother to care

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    19. yes the ford territory is crap. so is this geely emgrand. both are products of chinese.

      anyway if one sets his sights on a civic, he wouldn't consider an emgrand. established brand na yan pare. yung geely gumagapang pa lang yan

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    20. While most car buyers are indeed casual shoppers looking for people movers, if they get an Emgrand over the Civic, I'd argue that they weren't truly considering getting a Civic. They only included it in their lists just because it's a popular car with a great reputation.

      If you're earnestly looking to get a Civic, you'll be looking at at least 2 of these 3 things:
      - Honda Badge/Civic Legacy
      - Driving Dynamics of a Civic (Power, Handling, Comfort, NVH)
      - Honda Sensing Safety System

      If you're after the 3rd option, you may consider getting the similarly priced (1.3M) Ford Territory Titanium+ with Ford Co-Pilot360 Safety System.

      If you're after the 2nd option, you'll definitely shop within the segment as you won't get the same driving dynamics from any of the subcompacts, not even form the City.

      If you're after the 1st option, you'll no doubt get the Civic, come what may.

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  2. Stop flogging your Chinese crapola here, it's not even in the same category nor price range. No one's comparing those 2 cars. Go paste your PR materials on Vios & City reviews.

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    1. The word 'flogging' means punishment, fanboy. So your statement does not make any sense, Mr fanboy.

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    2. Isa ka pang boba, the other meaning of "flogging" is to "to publicize aggressively: e x., flogging a new book" or "to try to create interest in something after all interest in it has been lost."

      Idiot, isa ka ring absent sa grade school basic English class. Huwag kasi puro Iyottube at Tiktok atupagin mo para may matutunan ka naman. Lulz.

      Etong mga Chinese brand trolls are employed by socmed PR firms to spread awareness of their products even on inappropriate articles. Halata naman.

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    3. ^
      says the butthurt chinese branded garbage car owner

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    4. comment directed to Unknown at 9:04 PM

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    5. Lots of hate here haha

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  3. Honda PH needs to quickly release the BRV and HRV. Toyota is extra active this year and they need to maintain their market share in crossovers.

    Civic will always have its fanbase but clearly hybrids and crossovers is the way to go.

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    Replies
    1. I second, some of our Asean peers already introduced both models...

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  4. Still waiting for the Honda Civic Hatchback and Honda Civic Si to reach our shores. Hope Honda gives the manual transmission variants one more try for those who can't afford a type R but still want a hot hatch/sport compact

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    1. Sadly, the Thai plant stopped producing the hatchback with the 10th-gen model. So, that's probably a goner. Meanwhile, Civic Si is a North American-only product.

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    2. i think i read something here about them not coming to the Philippines but I'm still hopeful. the GR Yaris was such a big hit maybe some companies can take it as advice that there is indeed a market for small hot hatches in the Philippines. If not honda, fingers crossed on the swift sport and hyundai i20 N

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    3. Swift Sport and those cars from Hyundai's N Dvision will not fare well in our extremely price-sensitive country. Yung i20 Cross nga dito ay the end, nilangaw sa showrooms ng Hyundai.

      And, don't expect Suzuki to fill the Swift to the brim with even safety features. Yes, the driving dynamics are fine, but in other specs, they're barebones at best.

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    4. We can't discount the swift sport as of yet. Look at the success of the gr yaris! Maybe suzuki can learn a thing or two from toyota. The next batch of gr yaris is even more expensive than before.

      Malaysia and Singapore already have it. If Thailand can get it somehow, it won't be long before it comes to us, right?

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  5. Uly, I was thinking what one can buy with the 400k you save by getting the Type S, este, S variant over the RS, now that the powertrain & Sensing are standard. Bigger & lighter rims, better audio, more speakers + subwoofer, leather upholstery, LED lighting upgrades + LED foglamps, bodykits. Heck, I bet you can pay the casa to upgrade the auto door unlock & remote start functionality as well. Even the missing airbags & powered driver's seat can be installed since those are self-contained units. I bet all those would still cost less than 400k. You'd have plenty left over to buy RS emblems, Type R & DOHC VTEC stickers, plus the obligatory Spoon or Mugen Power windshield banner decals. Lolz.

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  6. Honda Civic S Sedan is just fine compared to buying a Geely Coolray Sport Limited and upcoming Corolla Altis V GR-S.
    Geely Emgrand Sedan is meant to compete with the Vios,City,Almera and MG5.

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  7. Saw the new Civic in the flesh... i can say the side profile looks very BMW-esque... no wonder it won the 2022 North American Car of the Year.

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    Replies
    1. the honeycomb dash looks divine :D

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