For this long-term update on the 2017 Honda Civic RS hatch, we handed the keys to Sam Rawlings, our video production co-ordinator. Here’s what he thought of it.
The long weekend was ahead; I was swapping the misery of Sydney for the peacefulness of my hometown of Orange and I needed a car thanks to my own being out of action. Matt Campbell, God when it comes to car allocation in the Sydney office, threw me the keys to CarAdvice’s current long-term loan car – the 2017 Honda Civic RS.
It was an exciting prospect, given our family runabout used to be a Civic. That good old Honda was the car I learned to drive in, so I was keen to see just how much had changed over the years.
On the four-hour drive to Orange from my usual dwelling on Sydney’s north shore, there are all manner of road surfaces. Smooth freeways, country roads and rutted out-of-town streets, all of which the Civic handled with relative ease. While the ride is certainly not what I would consider sharp, the lower profile tyres transmitted a considerable amount of vibration through the steering wheel, and a fair amount of road noise, too.
The Civic RS has been praised by many of the CarAdvice testers who have driven it outside of the city limits for its sporty, fun-to-drive demeanour, and that was something I got to experience, especially as I snaked across New South Wales’ Blue Mountains. Corners linked to corners, bends twisted and turned up and over the mountain, with the steering offering a really enjoyable drive experience.
The 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder has more than enough power to tackle overtaking and steeper ascents with great ease, and there’s not even a whiff of turbo lag. The CVT auto transmission hooks up quickly, too, which was handy given the numerous traffic lights over the Great Western Highway.
On longer trips, we all tend to ‘settle in’ for what is usually the worst part of a weekend away. Thankfully, in this case, the level of comfort offered by the Civic is great. The seats, and the way both the centre and side armrests are designed, really do make for a pleasant driving position, nice and hunkered in the cabin. The seat warmers were also a welcome feature for my mid-winter trip.
The driving experience was helped by an intuitive infotainment and stereo system. A big plus for someone who thinks no trip, whether long or short, is complete without being able to bang out some killer tunes.
Moving on, though, to something that really bugged me with the Civic.
Now, while not the biggest of gripes but certainly worth mentioning in this case, the cruise control system is a bit tricky to set up. There’s isn’t what I would consider a ‘conventional’ means of setting cruise control in the Civic, via the usual cruise on, set speed button path. Now, this is obviously only an issue for the first time you’ll use it, but attention while on the road that is directed at an unnecessarily complex cruise control system instead of the road, isn’t good.
So, that’s what Sam thought – but I can attest, having spent heaps of time in the Civic on the highway over the past few months, the cruise control isn’t as big of a deal-breaker as the engine noise may be.
Having sampled the new-generation CR-V, which has a more powerful version of this engine but is considerably quieter, the noise (I call it that because it’s not that pleasant to listen to) that emanates when you put your foot down, be it through a series of corners on the open road, or just accelerating away from the lights, is grating.
But the fact is, this is an excellent country road car, with a compliant and comfortable suspension setup and direct steering.
While my 150km commute on motorways has the potential to be a real pain in the arse in just about any car, if I had to buy something to do that, day in and day out, the Civic would be very high on my list. The fact it’s a lot of fun to drive fast through corners just adds to the appeal.
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