Honda Civic RS hatch

At last, the body for buyers who can’t be booted

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

HAS THERE ever been a more chameleonic car than the Honda Civic hatch? Although adhering to the same basic threedoor formula through six generations from 1973, from 2000 the five-door broke away from the increasingly US-focused sedans, first with a Euro centric monobox, then turning left field with a pair of smaller, Jazz-based curveballs in 2006 and 2012 respectively.

None cut muster.

Now, the tenth-gen unites with last year’s reborn sedan, with more mainstream sizing and spec.

Like the sedan, the hatch employs either the passable but past-its-prime 104kW/174Nm 1.8-litre single-cam atmo lump in the cheaper VTi and VTi-S, or – for actual enjoyment – a rorty 127kW/220Nm 1.5-litre four-pot turbo alternative. Both, however, only offer a dreary CVT, with no manual in sight until the Type R lands later this year. Pity.

At least the muscular turbo partly masks some of the laggy traits encountered with the 1.8 CVT combo, with its meaty torque delivery from low revs resulting in surprisingly rapid and rousing performance. Even the off-brand top-end raucousness is endearing.

So is the Civic’s generally sporty dynamic demeanour, at least riding on the racy RS’s 215/50R17 rubber.

Eager, fluent and measured, the steering works with a keen driver for balanced handling that, pleasingly, becomes more intimate with speed. Additionally, the hatch’s poise and control through a wide variety of corners highlights some welcome Aussie tuning, backed up by a sophisticated ride.

Occasional coarse-road drone is the only real drawback.

Shared with the sedan, the hatch’s interior is comparatively vast, thanks to a low dash and thin pillars that emphasise spaciousness. Everything’s on a big scale, from the digital instruments and (fiddly) touchscreen to the easy switchgear and plethora of storage. Even the RS’s bodyhugging buckets envelop.

Aided by a higher roof than the sedan’s, the hatch’s second row is ably accommodating, with a thoughtfully angled backrest.

Too bad there aren’t rear air outlets, though. And the previous hatch’s Jazz-inspired ultra-low ‘Magic Seats’ are history – the sole drawback of the newly-acquired multi-link suspension. The sloping tailgate reveals a sizeable 414-litre cargo area as well as a flimsy sidemounted cover.

Finally, AEB is only available on the most expensive variant. Not quired he msy sideilable nt.

very Civic minded.

Other than that, after decades of Honda oddities, the Mk10 hatch falls in line with gusto.

Avoid the 1.8 and fun times lie ahead.

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Honda Civic RS hatch 1498cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo 127kW @ 5500rpm 220Nm @ 1700-5500rpm CVT automatic 1440kg 7.4sec (estimated) 6.1L/100km $32,290 Now

PLUS & MINUS

No manual; AEB only on top variants; no more ‘Magic Seats’ Versatility; turbo performance; ride; handling; space; solidity

Our leaks are sealed

Thai-built Civic sedan and hatch are identical from nose to B-pillar. The ‘Earth Dreams’ architecture replaces the old hatch’s torsion beam rear with a multi-link, while a 16kg-lighter body, 52 percent torsional rigidity boost and new hydraulic suspension and sub-frame bushes further benefit handling, ride and refinement. Targeted aero and better sealing and glazing also improve NVH.