25 November 2022

Civic returns to its roots (the new Honda, that is)

| James Coleman
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Honda Civic

The 2022 Honda Civic VTi LX. Photo: James Coleman.

For years, the screaming burst of several Formula One (F1) cars rushing past would let you know, from the other room, that a Honda advertisement had just played on TV.

F1 might have had its heyday now that red cards are handed out the moment drivers look at each other the wrong way, but car companies have poured billions of dollars into motorsport over the years. And it’s not just a pointless frolic.

They know that in the showroom, prowess on the racetrack will outshine the glittering brochures and smell of freshly minted plastic. Who cares if you only doddle about town in it – this car has connections.

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You would imagine then the average age of a Honda buyer would be about 15. And certainly, there are those who wear their cap backwards and when inevitably pulled over by the police, respond with, “Sorry officer, the VTEC kicked in”.

But no, the average age is more than 35. And the proof of the pudding is on the front of the new Honda Civic.

I borrow one from Capital Honda in Phillip and gingerly edge my way into a car park off London Circuit in Civic (see what I did there). I even get out to double-check my clearance.

That’s because there are no parking sensors.

Product specialist Marcus Sutherland puts this down to the average age of most Civic buyers.

“They can’t stand a series of bongs and chimes in the cabin,” he says. “They want it kept simple.”

The Civic has built a reputation of honest dependability since its birth in the thick of the oil crisis in 1972. In a last-ditch attempt to rescue dwindling sales, Honda jumped on the mini-car bandwagon with a simple hatchback.

The Civic went on to overtake several key competitors in Britain and the US. Honda was back big time, once they’d worked out a way to stop the thing rusting away within three years.

Take at look at the previous iteration to the 2022 version, however, and you’ll find countless fake plastic vents and model variants. Fortunately, the new model veers it back towards the original ethos.

There’s a much cleaner look. And in Australia at least, if you want a new Civic, it will be an LX model, in one of four colours – Crystal Black, Platinum White, Premium Crystal Red or Premium Crystal Blue. Those are your only options.

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However, it’s also slapped with a non-negotiable fixed national driveaway price of $47,200 – about $11,000 more than the previous model of the same spec.

But apart from the parking sensor situation, it does come handsomely stocked with standard features. The attention to detail in the interior is magnificent, and coupled with leather and perforated suede, a Bose 12-speaker sound system, wireless phone charging, heated seats and all the usual electronic aids and safety equipment we’ve come to expect (except parking sensors!).

There’s a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine under the bonnet, incorporating Honda’s famed ‘VTEC’ technology. This provides different valve timing for low and high revs. The single-cam lobe and rocker arm setup of a conventional engine are replaced with a locking multi-part rocker arm and two cam profiles…

You’re bored. But bear with me because the F1 influence is here, and I’m not just talking about the red stitching and sharp 18-inch wheels.

To drive, the new Civic is one of the most delightful ‘normal’ cars out there.

Not only does it take off the line in no time and round fast corners without a chirrup of complaint from the tyres or chassis, it settles into a quiet and comfortable glide everywhere else. It feels premium, and always involving.

To top it off, you’re seated low in the thick of the action, just like a racing driver. Although, on reflection, that may not be so great if you’re over the age of 35.

Honda Civic

Crystal Black is one of four paint options for the 2022 Honda Civic. Photo: James Coleman.

2022 Honda Civic VTi LX

  • $47,200 driveaway
  • 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, 131 kW / 240 Nm
  • Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with manual paddle shifters, FWD
  • 6.3 litres per 100 km fuel usage (combined cycle)
  • 0-100 km/h in 7.5 seconds
  • 1369 kg

This car was provided for testing by Capital Honda, Phillip. Region has no commercial arrangement with Capital Honda.

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Are leather seats cheap to produce or something?
It seems they are fitted to almost every car nowadays.

In Canberra they burn your backside in summer and freeze it i winter. Only vinyl seats are worse than leather.

Pretty uninspiring for nearly 50k on the road

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