Honda Civic 1.8S CVT: Excellent-handling high performer
This may be the base model — so it's bereft of the bigger engine and all the top-of-the-line goodies that come with it — but I’m still impressed by how it doesn’t fall short of the driving characteristics that make it such a popular model in the Philippines.
Even with a five-year-old body, the exterior of the Civic 1.8S CVT still feels fresh because it’s such a departure from its predecessor, especially with that fastback-looking tail.
The short rear appears taller than the front thanks to the redesign and a few other factors — sloping roof, rising character line, and the short (but spacious) trunk that’s highlighted by very distinctive C-shaped LED taillights.
Small details on the body like the pinches on both sides the rear bumper and the angled surface near the rocker panel makes the Civic ooze with so much texture and gives it such an edgy appearance.
There’s a thicker chrome grille but still the same one-bar type that’s as shiny as the small trims used to frame the projector headlights and the fog lamps.
Raised strakes on the hood that come down very nicely over the shapely fenders give it heft and muscle, which makes it look wider than it really is especially when viewed from the front.
As an entry-level unit, you’ll need to physically click the key fob to unlock and then insert the key for ignition.
It is an all-black affair in the cabin, if not for a few silver accents on the steering wheel and near the center console.
The dashboard is padded, but there’s no leather here — not on the seats or the steering wheel.
That’s not to imply that the seats aren’t comfortable. Seats in a Honda, at this level and higher, are probably the best at getting the H-point just right for Filipino-type bodies. I have yet to encounter a problem getting adjusted into a Honda test drive. It took me less than 10 seconds to configure my position in this unit.
A seven-inch touchscreen comes standard along with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Volume can be controlled via the display itself or the steering wheel buttons.
It could do with a smaller steering wheel as this one looks big for the impression one gets from the vehicle’s exterior, but the shift knob feels just right to the grip.
It comes with an electronic parking brake and a brake-hold system, which puts brake pressure on the wheels when you come to a full stop to guarantee that you won’t move an inch unless you put pressure on the throttle.
Cabin space is excellent even with the fastback design and worthy of a C-segment unit. There’s a lot of room – head, leg, and elbow – to go around.
The engine output of 141ps and 174Nm of torque is too much for simple city driving and just adequate if you for out-of-town drives. Even on Eco mode, the Civic feels brisk and alert to driver’s throttle and steering input.
Even with the bigger, bolder body, the car is amazingly light on its feet and effortless in its acceleration. Credit a big part of that, of course, to the Earth Dreams Continuously Variable Transmission that’s paired to the 1.8L i-VTEC engine.
Ride and handling
Honda has perfected this combo of front MacPherson Strut (with stabilizer) and rear multi-link suspension that it makes even a basic 90-degree left turn feel exciting and fun.
Because of the ceiling and low center of gravity, there’s very minimal body roll and the seating position returns great feedback from chassis to driver, which creates a connection that makes each move the Civic feel almost intuitive.
Even with great driving dynamics, ride comfort is still very high. Noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) levels are very low thanks to damping insulators and high-density plastic sheeting, plus mounting it on thicker 16-inch alloy wheels.
The price is just a little higher than subcompacts (P1.115 million), and I believe this to be a very good deal. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the top trim, but its fundamentals, which are what you’ll need on a day-to-day basis, are very sound and more than justify the price point. Plus, the trunk is large with its 525-liter capacity.
The Honda Civic 1.8S CVT has size, the looks, and more importantly, handles and performs the way a Honda should.
Photos by Eric Tipan
Learn more about the Honda Civic here.