Honda Civic 2017 rs

2017 Honda Civic RS hatch long-term review, report three: infotainment

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I don’t know why you’d need a calculator to be a function of your car's infotainment system, but that’s one of the inclusions in the new-generation Honda Civic hatch.

It’s even more baffling when you think about the lack of satellite navigation in anything but the top-spec VTi-LX model – but Honda argues buyers of the rest of the models in the range, like our RS hatch, will more likely use their phone for mapping.

Seems legit, because the Civic has smartphone mirroring tech that’ll allow you to access the mapping software on your Apple or Android phone. While some people swear Apple’s in-house mapping is rubbish, I’ve never had any issues with it, especially not when using the Honda’s iteration of Apple CarPlay.

The media system itself has plenty of functions, including Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, which is simple to pair and re-pairs seamlessly in our experience.

My biggest issue with the Bluetooth connectivity is there’s no way to skip through a track that's playing through the stereo – like, if you love a part of a song that happens at the 45-second mark, you can’t scrub through it to get to that point, or replay that part. It’s the same issue with podcasts, but at least – if you use Apple Podcasts – you can jump forwards or backwards by 15 seconds by choosing that on the screen when CarPlay is active.

The sound from the 12-speaker stereo system is excellent – not crystal clear, but offering good bass depth and without much distortion. It’s better, and has more speakers, than some optional systems from European luxury brands – which is a pretty huge bonus for buyers in this part of the market.

There’s FM, AM and DAB digital radio, HDMI connectivity, but no CD slot. But then, this isn’t the type of car I’d have thought people who still use CDs would buy…

The climate control system displays on the screen, which isn’t ideal, but at least this system is more resolved than the one in the Peugeot 308 I had earlier this year. That’s because it has rotary control dials for the temperature, and a hard button below the screen to access the fan controls. I was pretty happy there were hard buttons for the seat heaters, too, because it would have been a bit much to access them through the screen. So well done, Honda.

What is most confusing are the steering wheel controls that manage the media system by way of the driver information screen. I lost count of the number of times I accidentally changed the audio source by hitting a trigger I didn’t mean to, and the menus just aren’t as logical as they could be.

If I had even more time with the car, I’m sure I’d get the gist of it – perhaps that’s just something you learn over time – and the screen is configurable, too. You can add or remove certain display elements. If you don't care about what the turbocharger is doing, for instance, you can get rid of the monitor for it.

There are wallpaper settings you can go through, too, including a galaxy backdrop, a blank one, or a metallic look version. Hell, you can even add a .jpg or .bmp file by way of the USB input – just make sure you don't accidentally choose anything inappropriate...

And if you think the skin of the regular screen is a bit drab, you can change it to a more tablet-like setup with a fun backdrop and smaller cluster menus. Tidy.

Also, while the sedan has the electro-static volume control slider, the hatch misses out – I know I made a bit of a fuss about it in the sedan, because it was somewhat sensitive, but I think I prefer it over the multiple presses of the button on the steering wheel needed to adjust the volume.

And on the topic of volume, there’s no knob. That’s just dumb. Touchscreen media systems are seemingly all going this way, but I reckon a tuning knob and a volume knob should be the two legacy items in the shift to more high-tech media systems. The tactility of it is unbeatable, and it’s much easier to turn a volume knob than it is to tap a pretend button on the edge of a screen, particularly on a bumpy or twisty road.

The screen may not have the best resolution of many of the cars in the class, but I think it’s still one of the best screens out there. The fact it’s backed up by the bright and crisp driver info screen – with its unmistakable digital tachometer/speedometer combo – is a huge plus.

The LaneWatch camera system – which shows up when you indicate to the left (or hit the button on the end of the right column stalk) – acts as a sort of visual blind-spot system, and while some people have said they think it's distracting, you really come to love it in daily use.

And while the Civic mightn't have ambient lighting like some of the more premium offerings in the class, you can choose between blue, amber, red, violet and blue-green colour displays for the screen. The driver info one stays red, though.

Next update? Urban driving. Stay tuned!

  • Odometer reading: 3112km
  • Travel since previous update: 748km
  • Fuel consumption since previous update: 7.0L/100km
  • Fuel cost since previous update: $78.00