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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

2023 Honda Civic RS: A Comeback Worth Waiting For

The thing about driving a Honda—any Honda, for that matter—is that there is likely some form of history or experience that the driver can draw from. After all, the brand has been in the Philippines for over 30 years. With that number alone, it can be safely said that at least 2 generations of Filipinos have had the pleasure of growing up with a Honda vehicle, whether it be the founding classics or a modern revamp.

If you are an ‘80s or a ‘90s kid, it might have been the car with a special memory attached; perhaps it was the car you learned how to drive in or your very first college car. Either way, Honda has journeyed a long road from its early years; from establishing its roots and becoming one of the biggest names in the local automotive industry, to its constant innovation in technology and design to meet the taste of each evolving generation, and finally, to making it into yet another era in Philippine motoring.

My memorable Honda was our family’s 2004 Honda Civic, the generation before its full model change. The beauty of Japanese cars was that they were an absolute thrill to modify. Ours went through the same crazy level of upgrades that were all the rage in the ‘90s and early 2000s — from the audio system to a race-inspired flat-bottomed steering wheel, to sleek matte-finish aluminum wheels. We all had seen Honda move on from its questionably edgy, futuristic design phase to introducing products that were simply not quite the standard that we were used to. But again, we can never discount history from any story and this is why I find that the Honda Civic RS is potentially one of the great comebacks that the brand has been waiting for.

The all-new Honda Civic RS came in a design package that is the perfect mix of sport and dapper. It is bigger than the conventional Civic of yesteryears and that’s one of the reasons why it offers a striking first glance. Adding to that are glossy, well-placed black accents that can be found in the door handles, side mirrors, the front and side under spoilers, and the dynamically-designed 17-inch alloy wheels. These details contrasted seamlessly with the Platinum White Pearl body, which is just the right almost-flat creamy white shade.

The element that gives the Civic RS that elevated look is the smooth, svelte curvature of its profile. While it has a decidedly wider and stronger front face, it is the clean, extended line from nose to tail that offers an extra touch of elegance. I personally appreciate how the elongated hood line is proportioned by a shorter rear for that illusion of length.

You can tell that this variant of the all-new Honda Civic RS is the top-of-the-line as the makers did not skimp on the interior details. The cabin is as spacious and comfortable as the exterior depicts it to be. The seats are roomy and ergonomic, with ample legroom for driver and passengers. The surfaces are finished in premium materials, accentuated by genuine leather details that can be seen in the 3-spoke steering wheel, shift knob, and center console.

The Civic RS also features the new black honeycomb trim that seems to be the signature design element for current and succeeding Honda vehicles. I’m not completely sold on this idea as it will clearly be a pain to clean these areas. But if it’s to lend a unique touch to the cabin, it does the job.

As pretty as it looks, the Civic RS as practical as you would expect from a Honda, which is still one of the dealbreakers when choosing the right car. For today’s tech-savvy motorist, it is built with a modern 9-inch full-color heads-up touchscreen monitor that allows Bluetooth connectivity, audio streaming, and—for sure, everyone’s favorite—wireless Apple CarPlay as a standard. Speaking of wireless, this variant comes with a wireless charging pad, in addition to 2 standard USB charging ports.

In terms of functionality, Honda has kept it as simple as possible, with every commonly-used control point within easy, ergonomic reach of the driver. Apart from steering wheel controls, the heads-up monitor is positioned at the right angle that is reachable from your preferred seating position. Climate control knobs are right below the a/c vents, while charging solutions are all located in the same area below the center dash. You can also count on extra storage spaces throughout the cabin, including bins for your small trinkets, standard-sized cupholders, and sections in the door panels.

The driving performance is something that will satisfy Honda fanboys and girls. Although the 1.5-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine runs on a CVT, it does not hold back when delivering power and speed exactly when you need it. In fact, the Civic RS is quite responsive and offers the excitable and thrilling experience that you would expect from a turbocharged Honda. Best yet, this engine isn’t particularly picky when it comes to its fuel. You can load it up on regular 93-octane fuel like Petron Xtra Unleaded, or go the extra mile with the 95-octane Petron XCS. Either way, you benefit from 178 horsepower and 240 Nm of torque on tap.

The best part about this is that this model is supplemented by the Honda SENSING driver-assist system as a standard feature, which integrates additional safety features; such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, Lane Keep Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, Collision Warning and Mitigation, and Lead Car Departure. Considering that most vehicles on the road nowadays are SUVs, the presence of Honda SENSING offers an added peace of mind for the driver, especially since the car may be less visible on the highway.

The all-new Honda Civic RS is on my list as one of my favorite drives. As with any car, it has its pros and cons, and it’s not 100 percent perfect. However, coming from the perspective of someone who has grown up with brand, it is worth a look and a try, especially if you’re after performance that is up-to-date, yet familiar, in a sporty, sleek package that will undoubtedly be given a second look when out in the streets.

Text and Photos by Gen Tiu

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