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Honda Civic VTi-L hatchback road test

by Stephen Walker

9th December, 2012

Home > Road Tests > Honda

Related stories:
Honda's new Civic hatch arrives
28th June, 2012
Honda Civic Hatch prices announced
25th May, 2012

It seems as though the Honda Civic has been around forever. And it nearly has been!

The current and previous model Civic hatch that we see in Australia is manufactured in England at Honda's plant in Swindon. This is an interesting twist as we see Honda as a Japanese product. But Honda is an active participant in the globalisation of the automotive industry. The quality of the products that come out of the Swindon factory is excellent, in my opinion.

Test Car particulars

Our Milano Red test car was the Civic VTi-L hatchback. The VTi-L is top-o'-line amongst the current Civic hatches and includes automatic transmission as standard equipment. The interior was coloured black.


The current price* for the Honda Civic VTi-L automatic hatch is $26,590*, which represents very good value. A manual VTi-L is not available, whilst the base model Civic VTi-S hatch is priced from an excellent $19,250* (manual) and $21,550* (automatic).

Metallic/Pearlescent paint and a wide range of practical accessories are optional.

Model background

The current Honda Civic hatch is very similar in its 'look' as the previous model. But the model that arrived locally in June this year is an all-new design. Whilst the 'glasshouse' retains the styling effect of the earlier model, the dominant effect of the new model's mudguards clearly reveal distinct differences. Likewise, the new front end offers a complete change in the look of the Civic hatch. It's up to you to decide if the new model looks better, although I must say it certainly looks different to the previous model. Note the almost 'flares' over the chiselled-look mudguards.

The Next Car operatives suggest an R-Type hatch can be expected at some time in the future.

Driving the Honda Civic hatch

We clocked up a modest 246 kilometres of city and suburban driving in our week with Honda's respectable small hatch. We were able to include approximately 30 kilometres or so of freeway driving too but mostly we did the usual short suburban 'runs' looking after the typical requirements of a household.

With pleasant ride and handling qualities, the Civic hatch is a suitable car for city living. Whilst the performance won't excite too many drivers it must be made clear that the Civic is no slow coach and is quite capable of performing well against the competition in the small car class. I'm convinced the new Honda Civic hatchback is an improvement over its predecessor.

The compact size makes suburban parking quite easy. VTi-L gets a reversing camera as standard and this an excellent tool when looking at a tight parking environment (as I quite often do).

Living with the Honda Civic VTi-L hatchback

The five-seater is comfortable upfront (back seat not tested on this occasion) with intuitive controls for those used to the Honda way of doing 'things', but fairly easy for newcomers to the brand too.

There is just enough interior 'cubby holes' available but we did find the front door pockets somewhat small, especially with the sloping armrests which restrict the space available for a decent sized door pocket.

Seven exterior colours are on offer with black being the only interior colour available.


Powered by a front-mounted 1.8 litre (1,798 cc), four-cylinder, petrol-fuelled engine, the test car came complete with 104 kW (at 6,500 rpm) of maximum power and 174 Nm (at 4,300 rpm) of maximum torque. The Civic is front-wheel drive.

The VTi-L has a five-speed automatic transmission as standard. A manual transmission is available with the lower spec VTi-S hatch.


Six airbags; Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control; Anti-lock Braking System; LED daytime running lights and Progressive crumple zones are amongst the extensive list of standard safety features.

ANCAP rating is the maximum achievable five stars!

Fuel and emissions

On the combined cycle, fuel consumption of the Civic auto hatch is rated at 6.5 litres per 100 kms.

City cycle consumption is rated at 8.9 l/100 km. Highway cycle comes in at 5.1 l/100 km.

Premium unleaded petrol is the preferred fuel, with 95RON the suggested minimum petrol grade.

The fuel tank capacity is 50 litres.

CO2 emissions from the Euro4 compliant engine are 155 grammes/kilometre.

Equipment (VTi-L hatch)

Tilt and telescopic, 3-spoke, leather wrapped steering wheel; USB connectivity; Auxiliary input jack; Steering wheel mounted audio, i-MID, cruise and Bluetooth telephone controls; Bluetooth audio streaming; driver operated auto up/down power windows (front and rear doors); trip computer; Automatic dual-zone climate control air conditioning; alloy-look 'drilled' foot pedals; heated front seats; leather-appointed interior; cruise control; four 17 x 7.0J alloy wheels; Temporary spare wheel and power steering are all standard fare for the VTi-L hatch.


The Honda Civic also comes as a sedan and we'll look at it on another occasion. We'll report on both the 'regular' model and the hybrid.


Length: 4,300 mm
Width: 1,770 mm
Height: 1,475 mm
Wheelbase: 2,605 mm
Weight: 1,306 kg
Boot capacity: 390 litres   (with back seat 'up')


The towing capacity of an appropriately equipped Civic automatic hatch is 800 kg for a braked trailer (500 unbraked). Load on the 'tongue' is rated at 75 kg maximum.

After Sales

The warranty operates, with conditions, on a 100,000 kilometre/3 year basis for the original and subsequent owners. A "Premium" 5 year/140,000 km warranty with a five year roadside assistance package is available as an option (conditions apply).


Neatly styled, the new generation Honda Civic hatch offers excellent value with one of the most trendy 'looks' on the market today. The overall packaging remains very suitable for city dwellers with Honda proving, yet again, that the Civic hatchback will remain popular, seemingly, forever!

NOTE: * Manufacturer's List Price (MLP) excludes dealer delivery fees and the numerous statutory charges (commonly known as on-road costs). Additionally, please note that all prices, fees and charges are subject to change without notice, as are the specifications.

More Honda News ..... here.

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