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Base trim Civic gets top marks for poise and performance

Honda Civic 1.8S CVT

Updated

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Honda may have dropped the ball, design-wise, on its predecessor, but it has rebounded in a big way with this 10th generation unit. Now, it’s more than just sporty, I call this look ‘feisty’.

Actually five years old already, the exterior of the Civic 1.8S CVT still feels fresh because it’s such a departure from the old, especially with that fastback-looking tail. The grille is still the same one-bar type, but in thicker chrome that’s as shiny as the small trim used to frame the projector headlights and the fog lamps. Giving it some muscle are the raised strakes of the hood that come down very nicely over the shapely fenders making it look wider than it really is when viewed from the front. The rear appears taller than the front, thanks to the redesign and a few other factors: a sloping roof, rising character line, and the short (but spacious) trunk that’s highlighted by very distinctive C-shaped LED taillights. There’s plenty of texture on the body too — minor things really — like pinches on both sides of the rear bumper and the angled surface near the rocker panel that gives it such an edgy appearance.

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As an entry-level unit, you’ll need to physically click to unlock using the key fob and then insert the key for ignition. The steering wheel looks big for the impression one gets from the vehicle, but the shift knob feels just right to the grip. 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 say the seats don’t feel good. Honda seats are probably the best at getting the H-point just right for Filipino-type bodies. I have yet to struggle getting adjusted into a Honda test drive and it took me less than 10 seconds to configure my position in this Civic.

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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 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 very good and worthy of a C-segment unit. There’s a lot of room – head, leg, and elbow – to go around.

Its 141-PS and 174-Nm of torque don’t seem much on paper but even on Eco mode, it feels more than enough to get it moving briskly. Even with the bigger, bolder body, it 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.

The front MacPherson Strut (with stabilizer) and rear multi-link suspension pairs so well to deliver that familiar energetic Honda drive that 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. The seating position returns great feedback from chassis to driver. These two factors create a connection that makes each move of the Civic feel almost intuitive.

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Ride comfort is very high. Honda lowered the noise, vibration, and harshness levels by using damping insulators and high-density plastic sheeting, plus mounting it on thicker 16-inch alloy wheels.

At a price that’s just a little above subcompacts (Php 1.115 million), I believe this to be a very good deal. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the trim, but the basics are really all you’ll ever need on a day-to-day basis. And if you expect to find a small trunk, that’s where you’d be mistaken – capacity is a solid 525 liters.

The Honda Civic 1.8S CVT has size and, more importantly, looks and drives the way a Honda should.

Text and photos by Eric Tipan

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