Breaking the curse: Behind the wheel of the 11th-gen Honda Civic RS

Breaking the curse: Behind the wheel of the 11th-gen Honda Civic RS

When the first pictures of the 11th-generation Honda Civic surfaced, I was honestly disappointed. The 10th-generation featured such a dramatic evolution from the previous one that it ushered in a new era for the Civic. Sharp lines were replaced by curves and it was as if the engineers at Honda were compensating for the brash and aggressive design language. I remembered the long-running meme wherein it said that the Civic hype skips a generation.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Is the 2022 Honda Civic more powerful than the one it replaces?

    Yes, it has five more hp and 20 more Nm, making this the most powerful production Civic yet.
  • Does the entry-level 2022 Honda Civic have Honda Sensing?

    Yes. Honda Sensing comes as standard for all trims.
  • Does the 2022 Honda Civic come with a manual?

    All Honda Civic models come with a CVT.
  • Civic Profile pic 4

    Who can forget the amazing Civic EK with the now iconic orange SiR? That was followed by the largely forgettable seventh generation which, despite being a solid car (I know so because that is my personal ride) failed to live up to the sky-high expectations of the sixth gen. Then came the groundbreaking eight-gen Honda FD with digital gauges and the Battlestar Galactica facia which was then replaced by the lackluster ninth-generation Civic FB. Then came the 10th-generation Civic FC which just blew everyone out of the water with its sporty and devil-may-care styling and crab claw tail lamps. 

    Civic third rear profile

    Honda seemed to love hitting the brakes then, with each generation of the Civic failing to live up to the hype of the last. The 2022 Honda Civic RS though? It has taken Thor’s hammer (apologies to Volvo — Editor) and smashed right through that silly notion. 

    Exterior

    In pictures, one would be forgiven to call the 2022 Honda Civic a step down from the previous generation. As I mentioned, the 10th-generation Civic’s design was so groundbreaking that to this day it still manages to turn some heads. I felt the exact same way until I saw this new generation in the metal. The size alone was quite intimidating; at what point do we stop calling this a Civic and slap an Accord badge to it?

    Civic side profile left

    The 2022 Honda Civic is bigger in every conceivable dimension than the previous model and has a longer wheelbase which bodes well for interior space — but more on that later.

    The front end in this top-of-the-line RS trim features full LEDs on the sharply raked headlamps as well as the fog lamps. Gone is the traditional Honda flying wing trim which the brand has been using for the past decade or so. It is now replaced by a more subtle yet, at the same time, menacing overbite that blends quite well with the honeycomb grill. One part that might offend many obsessive compulsive buyers has to be the placement of the RS badge on the top of the 2022 Honda Civic. Instead of having it slapped on the grille, designers placed it right on the body panel up front. Personally, I love how Honda hasn’t forgotten to add a bit of oddity and quirkiness to the proceedings.

    Civic front left quarter profile

    The side profile features an even more aggressive and, dare I say, muscular design. It seems quite happy to see its driver thanks to a longer hood and short deck. The C-pillar rakes less abruptly than the previous model, giving it a more GT look than the 10th-generation’s faux fastback design.

    The star of the show, however, are those 18-inch, blacked-out mags that almost look aftermarket to me. In the same vein as all other iconic Honda Models such as the DC5 Integra and even the Civic SiR, one can expect that these wheels would be highly sought after, and buyers of the 2022 Honda Civic RS have them built in as well as very meaty and slick 235 40 R18 tires. 

    Civic mags rear shot beauty

    Many fans would most certainly miss the crab claw tail lamps of the previous model, and Honda has chosen to be more conservative with the rear illumination of the 2022 Honda Civic. The RS trim, however, makes the most out of this and gives it more go-fast bits to actualize fans’ WTCC aspirations. The blacked-out ducktail spoiler blends well with the shark-fin antenna and the dual exhausts are now featured more prominently, thanks to tailpipe finishers. 

    Interior

    If the exterior design of the Honda Civic requires some getting used to, it’s the inside that shows this model being leaps and bounds better than the previous model. The RS trim gets an all-black interior, including the headliner black seats with suede inserts but the real piece de resistance is the dashboard design. 

    Civic ac dials

    Fans would be greeted by a loud honeycomb design running across the dash, leading to a lack of visible aircon vents. Honda engineers have hidden the vents behind the huge grate with toggles to control airflow. This creates a clean and more upscale design never before seen in any Japanese car. This implementation frees up designers to remove traditional aircon vents and add a more cohesive design throughout the dashboard. 

    Civic honeycomb dash ac

    Honda has also put the D-shaped steering wheel out of fashion with it’s new tiller that is both adjustable for reach and rake. The 2022 Honda Civic RS features a complete set of buttons on the wheel to control audio, media, calls and cruise control. Peeking behind the steering wheel are nice paddle shifters, and the dashboard is now fully digital with an iPad-like 10.2 inch customizable screen.

    Civic cockpit

    Ergonomics, space and driving feel have always been paramount for Honda with the Civic, and thanks to the longer wheelbase it has even more space inside. The power adjustable driver seat might lack lumbar support, but adjusting for the perfect driving position is easy. When Honda first introduced the 10th-generation Civic it replaced physical dials and switches with capacitive touch panels, and we were all up in arms with pitchforks and torches. Honda had the good sense to bring back dials in an update and now gave us even more of what we love with nice, tactile knobs for the air-conditioning and infotainment. The amount of tactile feel is insane as every notch on the dial turns with a satisfying, almost ASMR-like click.

    The 2022 Honda Civic RS also boasts a 12-speaker Bose entertainment system connected to an infotainment system with nine-inch touchscreen display with both Apple CarPlay and Android auto. Wireless Apple CarPlay is also available, as well as a wireless charging pad. 

    Civic 9 inch touchscreen

    Rear passengers also get their own air vents in the rear but the omission of USB ports for the rear occupants might be an oversight. What isn’t though is the sheer amount of space in the rear. Legroom has always been standard with the Civic, but the 2022 Honda Civic RS has even more of this as well as headroom. One of my biggest concerns about the previous model was that, because of the sharp, faux fastback design my head kept hitting the ceiling. This time, my hairstyle was kept intact thanks to more headroom. 

    Civic Rear Ac vents

    The beauty of a sedan is the rear boot to place all one’s stuff in. The 2022 Honda Civic RS doesn’t just look great, it can be quite the capable grocery hauler, too! If one needs even more space, the 60/40 split function folds the rear seats flat. I’m also happy to report that this feature is available across the entire Civic range of models. 

    Performance

    One cannot truly judge a car without actually driving it, and at this point of the review, spoiler alert: the 2022 Honda Civic RS is one of the most capable driving machines one can have for the price. We all loved the 1.5-liter VTEC Turbo engine on the previous model and this time around, Honda seems to have perfected this engine and given us even more power! 

    Civic paddle shifter

    Under the hood lies an upgraded version of the 1.5-liter DOHC 4-cylinder VTEC Turbo engine that makes five more horses and 20 more Nm of torque — bumping up those figures to 176hp and 240Nm. A manual transmission is still nowhere to be found, but the updated CVT system is so intuitive that I hardly missed it. I still insist that this engine is begging for a manual but I guess that’s why the Civic Type R is there. The 2022 Honda Civic RS gets multiple drive modes such as Sport, Eco and Normal, and the paddle shifters help with manual separation anxiety.

    Civic Drive mode select

    Has Honda forgotten its VTEC roots? Does the new Civic still give the same driving dynamics as the Civics of old?

    Absolutely, but with a more refined and mature countenance. Hitting the accelerator from a standstill, I noticed that the CVT is hampering the otherwise rev-happy engine. Stoplight burnouts might be a thing of the past as the CVT refuses to simulate launch control but once I got it to speed? Boy, howdy! This thing is quick and peppy! Civics are not meant to be crazy fast but they sure do make it “feel” the part. Body roll is kept at a minimum despite aggressive corners, and the ride quality is just sublime.

    It’s not too soft to the point of being floaty but, thanks to the fully independent suspension system and those wide wheels, it feels as if the Civic can take on anything on the road. That might not happen against more expensive, sports sedans, but drivers wouldn’t mind at all. The 2022 Honda Civic RS feels and drives like a Civic, as it should be. Civics are not meant to be speed demons or track weapons, afterall. Civics are all about the drive and this baby can drive.

    Civic profile head on

    Fuel economy has yet to be tested but if the previous Civic is any indication, 8kpl in the City and 15kpl on the highway is achievable. Watch this space for updates on fuel economy!

    Safety

    Usually, this section gets bundled with the performance and driving impression but the killer app bundled with all 2022 Honda Civic trims has got the be Honda Sensing. This is the brand’s suite of active and passive safety features that work in concert to provide a safe and secure driving experience. Apart from the usual multiple airbags, ABS, brake hold, brake assist (which I honestly believe should be in every car and doesn’t really warrant its own paragraph), Honda went above and beyond to bless the Civic, even the most entry level trim with Honda Sensing.

    Civic Blindspot camera

    This includes Adaptive Cruise Control that uses advanced radar and cameras to determine the cars on the road ahead of the car and adjust the speed accordingly, Low Speed Follow, Collision Mitigation Braking system that actively assists with braking in the event of a frontal collision, Lane Keep Assist, Road Departure Mitigation and Lane Departure Warning all work to keep the car in its lane by giving alarms and even actively steering the car ever so slightly back to the middle of the lane. There’s also Auto High Beam to avoid blinding oncoming traffic, and Lead Car Departure Notification to give an alert when the car ahead has already moved forward. 

    Civic Blindspot camera

    It’s a wonder how all these features which used to be exclusively available to more expensive, luxury cars can now be found on the “lowly” Civic

    Pricing and conclusion

    The 2022 Honda Civic Starts at P1,290,000 for the entry-level S variant, P1,498,000 for the middle V trim and P1,690,000 for the RS with all the bells and whistles. Considering that all these trims get both Honda Sensing and the sublime 1.5-liter VTEC Turbo engine, it would be hard to find a better deal than the Civic. 

    Civic front left quarter profile 3

    Difficult but not impossible, as the Toyota Corolla Altis, Mazda 3, GAC GA4, MG6, Volkswagen Lamando and the gaggle of compact crossovers out there still offer great value at this price point. Toe-to-toe, only the Kia Forte GT might be able to take on the Civic but until we get to test that out, we will never know for sure.

    Civic Rear Profile beauty 2

    The Honda Civic has been Honda’s longest-running nameplate and has stood the test of time, adapting to changes and even surviving the onslaught of crossover SUVs threatening the compact sedan market. Maybe change is a good thing, and the 2022 Honda Civic proves that the sedan market isn’t dead. I can most certainly say, without a shadow of a doubt that this is the best Honda Civic ever.

    Now about that manual Type R.

    Photos by Roy Robles

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