We recently tested the only model Honda Civic sedan currently on South African soil, the 1.5 RS.
People started to accept being fooled by badges, employing the usual one liners of S line, AMG line, GR Sport, titanium this and thunderstorm that…!
When searching for this only model on Honda SA’s website, they are so conservative in their description, by not even adding spice with a lower case “t” for turbo, because that is exactly the case under the bonnet!
A blown 1.5 with a full 131 kw’s, supporting 240 Nm all the way from 1700 rpm to 4500. Yes, this time don’t be fooled by just an RS badge. It means as much to this model as a Type-R badge to the top spec red-labelled hatch.
This certainly was one of my favourite cars we have tested this year; just a few short of 1000 cars that Galimoto has ever tested. The only gripe I have to get out of the way, so that we can leave it forgotten by the end of the article, is that CVT gearbox.
Coming from a petrol-head, and having owned a few Hondas myself, which I absolutely cherished, I have to say I cannot criticise this car for it as it’s not a Honda issue. It is purely a personal dislike I have in the CVT gearbox as a technology on its own, as it can be notorious for that non-engaging rubber-band feel. In my mind it should be employed only by commuting fuel savers.
Having murmured all of this, I’m willing to allow myself a chance to get used to the auto-box in this car, because My Goodness! This generation Civic sedan excels from the inside and re-writes physics to all corners of the outside. Two immediate standouts for me…
- That modernised retro style dashboard, borrowed from a W124 Merc. It doesn’t just look the part, but comes with feel-good buttons, all ergonomically placed at just the right places. Volume, aircon, fan speed and easy directing knobs to direct air flow throughout the cabin. Honda really went into the finest detail inside, for easy living, so that you can really focus on what this car is all about.
- Sublime handling, and that with a very surprising comfortable ride. The chassis and suspension set-up really absorbs those top imperfections of most roads so well, and then it offers the famous Honda touring car like handling, as if you’re on rails.
Unfortunately, tight schedules on my side only allowed me an afternoon and the next morning with this car, so I had to make the most of my time in it. After dropping the kids off at school, I decided to take a drive along Clarence drive (towards Rooi-Els, from Strand) to gather as much personality from this grown-up Civic as I could.
As with most brands, cars grow larger in size through model iterations, and with this Honda, it was certainly the case. I happened to stop next to my friend’s 2003 Honda Accord Ctdi that he imported from the UK. This Civic appeared ever so slight larger than the 20 year older Accord, which is supposed to be the bigger brother.
The drive along Clarence drive made me realise that I can get used to this car as a permanent resident in our drive way. The sporty 1.5 turbo catapults this Civic along, leaving you with a sense of this wave of torque that’s always there. And then those sticky Pilot 4S tyres, together with a superior chassis, keep you far away from sliding limits, within the speed limit.
Not only does this car set dynamic standards for itself, it also looks the part, with twin exhausts and a wing to compliment that RS badge. With a price tag set at R669 000, you get a lot of metal for your money.