Celebrating its 50th year in Australia in 2023 is the Honda Civic, the brand’s longest-running nameplate and biggest-seller globally.
Now in its 11th generation, the Honda Civic five-door hatchback is available in three distinct varieties: VTi LX, e:HEV LX hybrid and stove-hot Type R, the Civic flagship.
Performance improvements, an updated chassis and suspension revisions, together with extra safety and infotainment tech headline the improvements wrought on the Gen XI Honda Civic, which has a premium edge across the range in terms of specification and pricing.
On offer are three powertrains – two turbo-petrol engines (one relatively mild, the other manic) and a petrol-electric hybrid.
Drive-away prices range from $47,200 to $72,600.
So, let’s delve into the latest Honda Civic range to find the one for you.
Entry to the Honda Civic range is with the VTi LX at $47,200 drive-away, with the following standard equipment:
• 18-inch alloy wheels
• 9.0-inch colour infotainment touch-screen
• Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio
• Bose 12-speaker premium audio system
• Dual-zone air-conditioning
• Multi-angle rear-view camera
• Adaptive cruise control
• Black leatherette seats with red suede accent
Honda Civic options
There are no factory options available on the Honda Civic, except a choice of four pearlescent and metallic paint colours at no extra cost.
Honda Civic safety and driver assistance
The latest-generation Honda Civic includes ‘Honda Sensing’, which encapsulates the brand’s latest safety and driver assist tech.
Across-the-board features include forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), hill start assist, straight-driving steering assist, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and road departure mitigation.
Rear cross traffic alert, traffic jam assist, adaptive cruise control, a multi-angle reversing camera and auto high beam on the LED headlights are all standard.
So are auto rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, emergency stop signal, traction and stability controls, plus driver attention monitoring.
Front, front side and knee airbags, along with full-length curtain airbags, are in the VTi LX.
But if a centre front airbag, side rear airbags and an acoustic vehicle warning system are a must, your only choice is the Civic e:HEV LX hybrid.
Both the e:HEV LX and Type R gain front and rear parking sensors, an intelligent speed limiter and traffic sign recognition.
Two ISOFIX child seat anchor points and three top-tether strap points are fitted to the rear seat.
Honda Civic infotainment
Another area receiving a boost in the latest-generation Honda Civic is the infotainment system, including a 9.0-inch colour touch-screen housed in the centre dash.
Wireless Apple CarPlay with Siri eyes-free assistant and Android Auto with Google Assistance are standard.
So is sat-nav, Bluetooth phone and music connectivity and wireless smartphone charging, along with AM, FM and digital radio. Two USB ports are fitted in all variants.
Missing out on the premium 12-speaker Bose sound system (with subwoofer) is the Type R, with this system only available in the VTi LX and e:HEV LX. The Type R uses an eight-speaker audio unit.
A LogR data logger, displaying engine telemetry and linkable to a smartphone, is one of the many customisable options of the 10.2-inch LCD dash and information display in the Civic Type R.
Honda Civic comfort and convenience
Many buyers like the comfort and upmarket look of a leather-clad interior, and the good news is that both the Honda Civic VTi LX and e:HEV LX have it as standard, with black leatherette seats and red-accented suede in the former and black leather seats in the latter.
Also in both are a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and gear-shift boot.
Heated and power-adjustable front seats are also standard in both variants. They’re adjustable in eight ways for the driver and four ways for the passenger, but if you want power lumbar support, a heated steering wheel, ambient lighting footwell and door lighting, slip over to the e:HEV LX.
Sidestepping leather trim in favour of a racier look is the Type R and its body-hugging red suede front sport seats, with the 60/40-split rear seat upholstered in black suede-style fabric.
The Type R also has a serial number plaque, alloy sports pedals and gearshift knob, an Alcantara-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with red stitching, red seat belts, black roof lining and black suede door trim with red stitching.
Convenience touches include eight cup holders, coat hooks, seat-back pockets, cargo hooks and a retractable cargo cover in all variants.
Dusk-sensing, auto-levelling LED headlights, LED front fog lights, LED tail-lights, LED daytime running lights and integrated LED light bars are fitted across the range.
Dual-zone climate control with rear vents is standard, along with privacy glass that hides the cargo area in the VTi LX and e:HEV LX and the rear door windows on the Type R.
Missing on the VTi LX is auto up/down power windows on all doors.
Are drive modes on the wish list? The VTi LX and e:HEV LX come with Econ and Sport modes, with the latter gaining an Individual mode.
Four modes – Comfort, Sport, +R and Individual – plus adaptive dampers, enhancing cornering and ride comfort, come with the Type R.
If a sunroof is important, that’s the sole domain of the Civic e:HEV LX hybrid.
From outside, the VTi LX and e:HEV LX look similar, with both sharing the same body-coloured door-handles, mirrors, shark fin antenna and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Wearing twin exhaust outlets is the VTi LX, with the e:HEV LX having a single outlet.
There’s no mistaking the bold and racy Type R as anything but the fastest of the Civic fleet. The give-aways are its oversized rear wing, large bonnet vent, the triple exhaust cluster and 19-inch black alloy wheels wearing low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
Slightly less in-your-face is the Type R’s gloss black front splitter, rear diffuser, shark fin antenna and side skirts.
Then there’s the subtle changing of the ‘H’ badges, which are red on the Type R. Besides other Type R models, only Honda F1 cars have a red ‘H’ badge.
Honda Civic engine and transmission choices
Powering the Gen XI Honda Civic VTi LX is a 1.5-litre DOHC turbocharged four-cylinder VTEC engine with 131kW of power and 240Nm of torque.
Tied to it is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with paddle shifts on the steering wheel.
The e:HEV LX has a 2.0-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine with two electric motors under its bonnet. Combined, this unit puts out 135kW and 315Nm and is connected to an electric shift-by-wire CVT, also with paddle shifters.
The Civic Type R flagship is the powerhouse of the trio, belting out a hefty 235kW and 420Nm. It is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, with a rev-matching function on downshifts.
The Type R is the only variant with a helical limited-slip differential, and also features an adaptive exhaust to heighten its note.
All Civic models drive the front wheels only.
Honda Civic key dimensions and capacities
The Honda Civic is no longer the pint-sized car it once was. The latest-generation five-door hatchback is 4560mm long, 1802mm wide, 1415mm tall, with a 2733mm wheelbase.
Kerb weights range from 1369kg to 1429kg, depending on the variant.
The maximum braked towing capacity is 2000kg on all models except the e:HEV LX hybrid, which drops to 1650kg.
With the rear seats upright, boot capacity in the Civic e:HEV LX is 409 litres, with the Type R 1L larger and the VTi LX boasting the biggest volume with 449L.
Folding the rear seat and loading the Civic to the roof gives you 1187L in the e:HEV LX and 1212L in both the VTi LX and Type R.
Verdict on the Honda Civic
Giving a verdict on the Honda Civic range is like comparing vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. They’re all so different.
While being Honda’s entry model, the Civic VTi LX is still playing at the top end of the small car sector, which explains its premium feel for a base car.
Add to that the lively 1.5-litre turbo engine, a spacious interior, plenty of standard features, its coupe-looking silhouette and hatchback practicality.
If I was buying on a set budget, this is the one for me.
With the Civic Type R sitting $25,000 above the VTi LX, this purchase is by the heart and not the head.
The latest Type R looks and feels special, and Honda’s mojo is clearly alive, well and personified in this car.
You can try and justify its price tag because of its wide-ranging comfort, infotainment and safety features. And its big interior. And its four doors. And its hatchback practicality.
But in the end the Type R is all about the driving experience, and for that I can’t get my $72,600 out fast enough.
How much does the 2023 Honda Civic cost?
VTi LX – $47,200
e:HEV LX – $55,000
Type R – $72,60
*All prices are drive-away (including on-road costs)
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