The release of the Honda Civic Hatch DTi-S in 2013 marked a milestone for the Japanese manufacturer. It was the first first diesel-fuelled model released by Honda in Australia. It also features Honda’s ‘magic seats’ making it a standout in its class due to the versatility of its cargo space.
The release of the Honda Civic DTi-S hatch in 2013 marked a milestone for the Japanese manufacturer. It was the first first diesel-fuelled model released by Honda in Australia. Throw in the car's 'magic seats', and this makes the Honda a worthy subject of our latest lifestyle review that focuses more on the 'living with' aspects of a vehicle.
With the ever-increasing popularity of diesel, it’s surprising Honda took so long to bring an alternative to its petrol offerings. The Civic DTi-S is powered by Honda’s 'Earth Dreams' 1.6litre i-DTEC turbo diesel engine, with a six-speed manual gearbox. (The company has since added a 2.2L diesel engine to its CR-V softroader.)
While here at CarAdvice we enjoy driving a manual, the lack of an auto option will rule this one out for many prospective buyers. At least the Civic's standard Hill Start Assist helps to take the stress out of taking off on a slope - especially when some silly driver has pulled up just a foot behind your car.
Taking off still needs a bit more thought than usual for a diesel engine. It's a relatively small engine, and where diesels are typically renowned for great tractability from low in the rev range the Civic DTi-S asks for a few more revs to ensure you don't stall.
The Civic diesel is quick enough off the mark at traffic lights, and beyond that lag below 1000rpm is a chunk of torque - with 300Nm at 2000rpm - that makes the Civic diesel more effective than the alternative Civic petrol in the parts of the rev range used most commonly. There are fuel economy benefits, too. Officially, the Civic diesel uses 4.0 litres per 100km, and CarAdvice averaged just 5.3L/100km when testing the car on launch last year. Just don't expect to rev the engine like a classic Honda petrol - power of just 88kW peaks at 4000rpm.
Inside the cabin you can still hear that distinctive diesel growl but it’s not offensively loud. Some credit must go to Civic's noise cancelling system, which uses a combination of microphones, a control unit and the car's speakers and subwoofers to reduce unwanted low-frequency sounds from the engine bay. Road noise is harder for the system to deal with and tyre roar infiltrates the cabin on rougher surfaces.
The ride mimics the road conditions. On smooth roads you get a smooth ride, but on unkempt city roads or on unsealed roads it’s quite firm, and you can feel every bump and pothole.
If the diesel engine is more effortless to drive than the petrol - providing you're happy to use a manual - living with any Honda Civic is made easy by its unrivalled practicality, and those aforementioned 'magic' seats. 60:40 flat fold rear seats are far from unique, but where things start getting clever in the Civic is where the bases of the back seats fold up to allow the relatively flat rear cabin floor to offer up a large area for extra storage. The versatility of the cargo space and the configuration options offer incredible flexibility. It’s a feature we love about this car – and you can take a look at the video above to see the magic seats in action.
With a cargo capacity of 1130L with the rear seats folded flat, it’s great for everything from grocery shopping, through to picking up home wares and small furniture items. While you’d struggle to fit large pieces of furniture in any hatch, there is a bit of extra space that makes loading up for a trip to the beach for a barbecue a relatively stress free exercise. You wouldn’t be shooting for the stars if you tried to pack fold-up chairs, an esky, sun shelter, beach bags and even boogie boards into the space.
The five-door hatch also features dual zone climate control, it has USB, iPod and hands-free connectivity as well as a reversing camera, tyre deflation warning system and 17” alloy wheels. For this writer, the jury is still out on the hidden rear door handle trend because they detract from the overall exterior aesthetic, and can be difficult for kids to handle.
The cockpit-style dash featuring a curved and sunken design marries beautifully with the steering wheel design and position, providing a clear line of sight through to the digital display.
The centre console buttons are clean and clear in design and function, embodying the K.I.S.S mantra: ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’. Large and easy to understand, you’re not going to waste any time trying to decipher hieroglyphics. The hazard light button is large and red, while the media power on button is green. Too easy.
The large console bin includes an in-built spot for your sunglasses, as well as 12V, USB and Aux power points. In the centre console there’s a second 12V point tucked away in front of a slide-opening compartment. It also boasts eight cup/bottle holders and four cargo hooks. All in all, the interior is classy and well appointed with leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob.
For the more detailed CarAdvice review on the Honda Civic diesel, click here.