The Civic is such an important nameplate for Honda. After all, this model has put the brand on the global stage thanks to its compactness, practicality, and engaging drive. Over the years, it has been a fun, small car and become a tuner-scene icon.
But more recently, the nameplate has admittedly lost its luster. As the car matured with weird designs and a shift in its powertrain focus toward fuel efficiency (save for the Type R models), some old fans were left disappointed and disenchanted.
So, if you’re interested to find out if it still has what it takes to fight for survival in this crossover-infested market, read on as we review the eleventh iteration of the popular sedan in its midrange variant.
This is the V Turbo CVT Honda Sensing, which is quite a mouthful. But the carmaker wants to rub it in our faces that all the locally available models come with the Honda Sensing suite of safety systems.
During a recent media drive to Tagaytay and Batangas, I was fortunate enough to be driving the top RS variant. And so, it just made sense that I would end up getting a different variant now, just so I could get to know the entire range better.
The car looks stately and more expensive than it is, but my only contention is the odd design of the front grille. Even after spending a week with the car, this failed to grow on me. But then again, beauty is subjective, so I understand if you beg to differ. The 17-inch wheels are fine, with good looks and improved ride comfort thanks to the taller sidewalls.
Inside, nothing much has been lost. The smaller, partially digital instrument cluster screen does the job fine. The fabric seats may not have the stylishness of leather, but at least your bums won’t be burned even if you leave the car parked under the scorching sun.
The infotainment system loses two inches of screen real estate (bringing it down to seven inches), but its size is just right as it still has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. You also lose the wireless charger and the wireless CarPlay, but I’d rather have my phone plugged in for faster charging and a better audio experience.
And on that note, the V may only have eight (unbranded) speakers, but these should be enough for the casual listener. After all, if you are an audiophile, you will probably ditch the Bose speaker system in the RS for something that sounds better.
In the end, everything that the RS has over the V seems gimmicky to me. Being in the lower variant doesn’t feel that different. Trust me, you’d be just as fine in here as the driving experience is mostly the same.
Speaking of which, driving the Civic V is a joy. The 1.5-liter turbocharged four-banger is very peppy, producing 176hp and 240Nm. It’s willing to rev up high to the “VTEC region” with gusto.
The only letdown is the rubber-bandy continuously variable transmission, which is a shame considering the Civic has a very engaging driving experience. It doesn’t give you the sensation that a proper automatic gearbox offers, but it is fine in the city, as the car gets up to speed without trying too hard.
There are a couple of things I don’t like about the car.
The NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) level is so-so. If you drive on concrete, road noise starts to creep in as early as 40km/h. A Mazda 3 easily trumps the Civic in this aspect as it does a great job of muffling those noises.
And at P1,568,000, even the Honda Sensing suite can’t justify the price tag when compared to the competitors. You could get something like a Mazda 3 or a Toyota Corolla Altis Hybrid for a little more (or less) money.
Then there’s the ground clearance. The car is long at 4,678mm, with a wheelbase of 2,735mm. So the 134mm ground clearance isn’t going to clear many speed bumps. Given how bad our road conditions are, expect the underside to make contact with the pavement if you don’t drive carefully.
But to be fair, the Civic V is a very good car. The top-of-the-line RS may have far more features than this car, but this one has everything that you need for a good, safe and fuel-efficient compact sedan that is also fun to drive. And if only for that, the midrange Civic V makes a lot of sense.
HONDA CIVIC V TURBO
|Engine||1.5-liter in-line-four turbo gasoline|
|Power||176hp @ 6,000rpm|
|Torque||240Nm @ 1,700-4,500rpm|
|Dimensions||4,678mm x 1,802mm x 1,415mm|
|Upside||It has everything you need out of a sedan, with power and fuel efficiency to boot.|
|Downside||The CVT doesn’t offer the best driving feel, so-so NVH, and the car sits a bit too low.|