New Car review: Honda Civic RS Hatch

Honda hatch a likeable and liveable all-rounder.

Introduced in 1972, the Civic is Honda’s longest-running nameplate and its best-selling model globally. 

Aussies have accounted for more than 360,000 of the 25-million Civics sold in that time.

The recent inclusion of Honda Sensing safety and driver assistance features on two additional Civic hatch models should bolster the model’s local sales.

The upgrades to the mid-spec VTi-L and sportier RS variants mean all three Civic sedan and hatch models, powered by the 1.5-litre VTEC turbo engine, now feature this safety tech as standard.

Less-expensive models, powered by the non-turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder, miss out on the upgrades.   

The suite of new safety technologies includes forward collision warning, AEB, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, and a high beam support system.

With this upgrade, the Civic hatch also scores a number of exterior styling and interior design tweaks across the range.

2020 Honda Civic RS hatch

The RS now features new-design 18-inch alloys shod with 235/40 ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport tyres that enhance grip and handling response. 

There’s also a new “hero” paint colour exclusive to the RS – dubbed Phoenix Orange pearlescent metallic.

The updated interior features revised seat and dash trims, plus functionality improvements to the audio, ventilation and touch-screen controls.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard inclusions but only the top-spec VTi-LX gets an integrated navigation system and inductive phone charging is a no-show on any of the five Civic models.

Occupant space is good by small car standards with practical stowage spaces for oddments such as phones, iPods and wallets.

The load area is usefully proportioned too, though the hatch’s 340-litre capacity is less capacious than the 410 litres of its sedan siblings and hatch competitors such as the Kia Cerato and Hyundai i30.

Rearwards visibility is compromised by a spoiler and wiper which split the rear screen horizontally, though this is mitigated somewhat by the standard rear-view camera and park sensors (front and rear).

2020 Honda Civic RS hatch

The 1.5-litre turbo engine churns out a solid 127kW and 220Nm, which is adequate but nothing to frighten its stablemate, the fiery and highly regarded Civic Type R hot-hatch.

The engine, nonetheless, impresses with its solid performance and all-round driveability, thanks in large part to maximum torque which comes on tap at a reasonably low 1700rpm and maintains the rage all the way to 5500 rpm.

With a CVT auto as standard it’s an agreeable and easy-to-live-with powertrain combination.

The RS offers a pleasing balance of comfortable and controlled ride qualities, confident and secure dynamics and pleasantly weighted and accurate steering. 

Pootle about town or take to the country and this Civic proves a likeable easy-to-live-with all-rounder.

Don’t be deceived by the sporty accoutrements though, it’s mostly for show.

Key stats

MLP: $33,540
ENGINE: 1.5-litre, VTEC, DOHC turbo-petrol 4-cyl
ANCAP CRASH RATING:  5 stars (2017)
TAILPIPE CO2 (g/km): 148

For

Additional safety features, easy-to-live-with all-rounder.

Against

Won’t frighten a Type R, rear visibility compromised, spacesaver spare.