2017 Honda Civic Hatch Review
Alex Rae’s 2017 Honda Civic Hatch Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The new Honda Civic hatch brings changes all over and some unique additions in a fiercely contended segment.
2017 Honda Civic Hatch
PRICING From $22,390+ORC WARRANTY three-years, 100,000 kilometres SAFETY five star ANCAP ENGINE 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol; 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol POWER 104kW; 127kW TORQUE 174Nm; 220Nm TRANSMISSION CVT DRIVE front-wheel drive DIMENSIONS 4515mm (L); 1799mm (W); 1421mm (H) BOOTSPACE 414 litres FUEL TANK 47L THIRST From 6.1-6.5L/100km (combined)
WHILE HONDA’S ACCORD struggles to stay afloat in a market dominated by SUVs and small passenger vehicles, the company’s new Civic is its halo model and the new hatch variant is set to expand Honda’s reach into younger buyers. Well, according to Honda.
Now in its 10th-generation, the new Civic hatch is set to help bolster sales to a record high, according to Honda, who think it will outsell the Civic’s current sales record in 2007 of 17,500 units sold.
The sedan currently sits at number two, behind the Mazda3, but the hatch faces stiff competition from the likes of the new Hyundai i30, VW Golf, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 Hatch.
What is it?
For a company that lacks a competitive large SUV or pickup utility, the new Civic needs to sell well, and so a lot of thought has gone into the 10th-generation platform, which Honda says is comprised of a trick chassis (Type-R is not far away), two efficient and powerful engines, reduced NVH, better interior comfort and tech, and some of the latest safety technology. And indeed it has most of those things, just not in every model.
The hatch is available in five grades and with two engines, base models get a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine and higher-spec models get a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder.
Unfortunately it is only the top-spec VTi-LX that gets any of the better safety tech – including AEB – and all other models miss out, it’s not even an option. This doesn’t compare well with the likes of the i30 which offers its ‘Smart Sense’ safety pack with AEB on all but the entry model and even that will be covered by the end of the year. Honda says it’s happy the current model packaging is inline with what its customers want. At least all models have a five star ANCAP rating… based on the performance of the sedan.
All models are front-wheel drive and come with a CVT transmission only.
Civic Hatch pricing (+ORC):
- VTi – $22,390;
- VTi-S – $24,490;
- VTi-L – $27,790;
- RS – $32,290; and
- VTi-LX – $33,590.
More model spec and trim level information available here
More technically, changes to the latest model include tuned MacPherson front suspension, tuned multi-link rear suspension, a 52 per cent stiffer chassis that’s 16kg lighter, more sound insulation around the cabin and engine, improved electric power steering feel and a 19 per cent improved roll rigid – again, something that should be even better felt in the Type-R when it arrives.
Compared to the sedan, the hatch isn’t drastically different, but it can be differentiated easily from the rear. A spoiler integrates with the rear lights and there’s larger faux-vents and contemporary styling. All things that will help it appeal to the targeted younger buyer audience.
What’s the interior like?
We’ll start in the boot because it features the largest boot space of its competitors. At 414 litres large it’s bigger than the 395 litre i30, 380 litre Golf and 308 litre Mazda3. But it isn’t as big as the Civic sedan’s 519 litre boot.
More than just litreage, it also features a well-dimensioned aperture that’s 1120mm wide and 960mm high. The seats split-fold 60:40 and Honda says you’ll fit a 65-inch box in it. We didn’t test this, but we did play with the cool horizontal sliding tonneau cover and put a few bags in the back.
Moving to the second-row and there’s a good amount of space for my six-foot frame, but there is a hump in the roof that sits above the headrests. I found my head could bump into it on occasion. Sitting in the back for a 25km stretch of the test-loop (around Adelaide hills, for those interested), the seats proved comfortable (in base spec VTi with fabric seats) and there was ample leg room. There’s also two cupholders for each side passenger and the middle seat folds down for an armrest and two additional cupholders.
There’s no USB charging ports out back, however, and only VTi-L and up get automatic up-and-down windows all-around. Only RS and VTi-LX get leather appointed trim but the fabric seats were comfortable and not scratchy.
In the front, there’s a good amount of seat adjustment for the driver to move into nearly any seating position. The steering wheel is tilt-and-reach adjustable too, and both passenger and driver’s seats were comfortable.
All models come standard with a reversing camera and 7-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Apple CarPlay worked well and sound quality in the VTi-LX was particularly clear. VTi-S models and up also get LaneWatch, which activates whenever the indicators are on. It provides a camera feed of traffic in the blind spot on that side and is particularly useful.
There’s two USB ports upfront and four cupholders – all of which are a little deep for small bottles and cups – and only the forward USB port hidden under the centre console stack works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It does however have a handy hidden dock for storing the phone neatly, keeping cords out of sight.
As mentioned only the top-spec VTi-LX gets the safety pack, and controls for active cruise control are steering wheel mounted. They work well but we’ll get into detail soon.
What’s it like on the road?
We were able to sample the base VTi, most sporty RS and top-spec VTi-LX on a variety of highway and twisting roads around the back of the Adeliade Hills region.
The VTi gets the 1.8-litre engine rather than 1.5-litre turbo but its 104kW/174Nm provides enough grunt to run comfortably on the highway and doesn’t feel lethargic. All engines are mated to a CVT transmission and that can whirr a little when pushed, which is common in CVTs, and in VTi and VTi-S which don’t get paddle shifters on the steering wheel, there’s no way to manually shift the ‘gears’.
The CVT works well for the most part and was responsive in traffic, but the addition of a manual transmission in the RS model would be better, but this isn’t going to happen according to Honda.
Behind the 1.5-litre turbo, which produces 127kW/220Nm, the CVT can be a little noisy when really pushed and shifting gears manually via the paddle shifters doesn’t feel sharp enough. That said, the 1.5-turbo is a good engine and the additional torque is felt when overtaking and acceleration.
The Civic has had its chassis tinkered extensively and the results show on the road. When driven enthusiastically, the RS handles well and it shares the same suspension and tuning as the other models. The ride is composed and compliant on mixed surfaces and a sharp steering ratio allows for quick turn-in. Although on the same suspension tune as other models, the RS does offer increased grip due to better tyres – although they were noisier than the others.
The RS also looks the part, with additional gloss black spoilers, skirting and twin-exhaust pipes out the back. Unfortunately they don’t make much noise.
The VTi and VTi-LX we drove exhibit similar manners on the road to the RS, but with the VTi-LX proving its premium ride with the best NVH and driver technology.
The safety pack fitted tot he VTi-LX includes collision mitigation braking as well as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation.
The adaptive cruise worked well on a long stretch of freeway driving and held a consistent space to the car infront via its radar sensor, and the distance is also adjustable. On downhill sections, which can trick some cruise control into accelerating faster, there was about a 3km/h creep.
Lane keeping assist was also tested and it provides autonomous steering when distracted for up to 8 seconds. It worked consistently and provides a quick scuttle of the wheel when the driver must take over control.
What about safety features?
The Civic Hatch gets the five star ANCAP rating carried over from the Civic sedan, tested this year. The new Civic gets an electric park brake with automatic brake hold function, which is handy in stop-start traffic. All models get a multi-angle reversing camera which offers a wide angle view, a narrower view and also a top-down view, the VTi- S adds front and rear parking sensors to the camera as well as LaneWatch.
VTi-LX is the only model to get Honda Sensing suite which includes, collision mitigation braking as well as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation.
Why would you buy one?
The small car hatch segment is beginning to burst with quality offerings but the Civic stands out on its unique styling, large boot and a composed ride. It doesn’t feature the same safety tech that some competitors do across the range, but in the Civic’s top-spec VTi-LX it works well and is worth considering the upgrade if that’s the budget – and we don’t think it’ll be offered to other models anytime soon.
Service intervals are consistent with most other competitors – every 12 months/10,000kms – but warranty isn’t as good as some at 3 years/100,000kms.