2016 Honda Civic RS

2016 Honda Civic RS

The Good:
– Unique styling
– Cabin space and features
– Ride and handling
The Bad:
– A bit on the pricey side
– Could use a bit more power
– Distracting touchscreen setup

Having lost their way for the better part of this decade, Honda has been trying to make amends by going back to making “wow” products for the mainstream segment. The all-new Civic is a more interesting car than the one before it, but while the 2.0-litre model is going to be the mass-market offering, the RS is the turbo-engined top version that’s getting all the attention.

The Honda Civic is 105mm longer, 44mm wider and 19mm lower than before, giving the impression that it’s a much larger car. While the new form takes on a liftback profile, it is actually still a sedan. The oddly-shaped front and rear ends are the most controversial design elements, and we’re still not sure if we like or hate them, although we do like that Honda is trying new things. The RS is differentiated by its chrome trim blacked out as well as its fancier wheels and vestigial rear spoiler. Ironically, we peered under the rear bumper and saw proper dual exhaust tips, but Honda chose to hide them away underneath for no apparent reason.

2016 Honda Civic RS 7

Inside, the regular Civic gets black plastics with beige cloth upholstery, but the RS goes with an all-black scheme with faux leather upholstery. All Civics get soft-touch surfaces on the dash and front-door panels, although the rear cabin doesn’t get the same courtesy, with hard-plastic upper door sills. The regular model’s hard-plastic rear door inserts are replaced with padded ones on the RS, but otherwise the turbo model is similar inside to the regular Civic. All armrests are padded, but barely. Overall, the build quality is fine, but the door panels feel hollow and flexible.

There are some interesting storage ideas, such as a second shelf that hides your USB ports and phone charger underneath the centre-console smartphone shelf; but then there are odd ones, such as the gaping hole in front of the central multi-piece sliding armrest that does double-duty as a deep cubby or as cup-holders, but not both at once, as you have to fully remove the cup-holders to use it as a storage space.

At least the boot is big, although it does have a small opening so don’t expect to stuff large items there. Cabin space is great, with legroom and headroom almost at midsize levels in the rear. The front seats are decently bolstered, while the rear is a typical 60:40-split bench, with all the obligatory door pockets, cup-holders and seat-back pouches.

There’s a good amount of tech features in the top versions of the new Civic, the most obvious being the sizeable touchscreen on the dash and a full-colour LCD screen replacing the gauge cluster. The multimedia screen is clearly based on Android — yes, the smartphone software — so it can do stuff like drag-and-drop icons, change backgrounds and other things that my tech-savvy geek of a friend made it do. For less-techy people like us, the basic features are fairly obvious, but going deep into the system may be confusing. Features controlled via the capacitive touchscreen include navigation, channel selection for the average stereo, and the Bluetooth phone and audio.

The good dual-zone a/c has rear vents and its own physical controls, but fan speed is inexplicably buried within the touchscreen, as is the volume control for the stereo, so you have to take your eyes off the road for such basic adjustments. It doesn’t help that the screen is occasionally delayed in responding to touch inputs, but thankfully, there is a volume button on the steering wheel as well, on which you slide your finger to adjust the loudness. Further features include a rear camera with sensors, a right-side “LaneWatch” camera to check your right blind-spot, LED headlights, LED running lamps and tail lights, LED fog lamps, smart key with starter button, HDMI port, sunroof, cruise control, electronic parking brake, 6 airbags, tyre-pressure monitor and more.

2016 Honda Civic RS 4

The regular Civic comes with a 158 hp naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre inline-4, but the RS goes one step further. Powered by a new 1.5-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 180 hp at 6000 rpm and 220 Nm of torque from 1700 to 5500 rpm, it is connected to the front wheels via a CVT automatic.

Now despite the RS badge, our blue thunder was not a fast car in our 0-100 kph test. It managed 8.3 seconds during a balmy June evening, enough to be the quickest in the compact class, but we were expecting more, especially given the car’s price. Still, with its new-found torque, it is a livelier car to drive than the lethargic 2.0-litre, but does not have the same level of low-end kick as VW’s excellent 1.4-litre turbo motor. The CVT makes the buzzy engine howl on full throttle, but is quick to respond and settles down nicely once cruising at constant speeds, helping the RS achieve 8.4 litres/100 km in fuel consumption during our test, better than the 9.0 litres/100 km we got with the 2.0-litre.

The RS still tries to play the sporty game though, with paddle-shifters that simulate gear changes, and a steering ratio that’s surprisingly shorter lock-to-lock than the regular Civic’s already-short ratio. The RS offers the same moderate weight in its electric steering as the regular Civic, but offers a bit more feedback. And the brake pedal is well-weighted as well, easy to modulate, but with average stopping power. The 2.0-litre offers instant throttle response, but the RS clearly has some lag to contend with for a split-second before the power comes on. Still, except for the CVT, the drive feels very European, almost like a VW Golf.

The handling is more than decent, with well-controlled body motions and moderate body roll at the limit, where it understeers cleanly. It’s easy to explore the outer reaches of its capabilities while still being fairly fun to drive. While the regular Civic has 215/55 tyres on 16-inch wheels, the RS gets 215/50 rubber on 17-inch alloys.

The new Civic is a quieter car than its noisy predecessors, with better sound-deadening in the cabin. It’s silent in city driving, but overall quietness on the highway is still average for its class. The Ford Focus leads the pack in silence, but the Civic is still quieter than the Toyota Corolla and the Mazda 3. The ride quality is also pretty good, with well-tuned independent suspension on all four corners, unlike cheaper rivals from Toyota and Hyundai.

So is the Civic RS worth the money? At first, we felt it was priced too high, but then we realised it actually costs about the same as a top-end Mazda 3 2.0 and a Ford Focus Titanium, both smaller cars with considerably less power than the turbo Civic. As such, it sits in a niche all on its own, with no direct rivals, but its pricing may still drive some buyers towards a larger midsize car instead. It’s a strong effort from Honda, but it’s not pushing the performance envelope far enough given the connotations of that RS badge.

Price Range:
Dh 95,000-96,000

Current Model Introduced in:
2016

Body Styles:
4-door sedan

Engines:
1.5L 180 hp Inline-4 turbo / 220 Nm

Transmissions:
CVT automatic

Setup:
Front-wheel-drive

Suspension:
Front: independent
Rear: independent

Brakes:
Front: discs
Rear: discs

Curb Weight:
1336 kg

Length:
4650 mm

Wheelbase:
2700 mm

Top Speed:
210 kph

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
8.3 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
8.4 litres/100km

15 comments to 2016 Honda Civic RS

  • Prado

    At 96K i dont get this… Mazda is offering AED 92K for it;s GT Grade Mazda 6 (top line)..

    Good luck honda!

  • Hatem

    The ugliest ever very disappointing from Honda if u are looking for sporty option focus St will do it at 29k

  • amir

    Well i had a look at the 2.0 liter mid option and it looked very poor from inside in terms of clot used and dashboard . The plastics parts already started having scratches in the test car which was like only 200 kms used.
    I think the Full option Mazda 6 is retailing at 99500 net . but the mid option masda six is not bad also:)))
    thanks
    amir

  • D

    Lol, 96k for the RS and manual seats. A major oversight in my opinion.
    A salesman at Futtaim mentioned, that it was because the car has “bucket seats”
    I can’t believe they’ve put in pointless gimmicky crap like lane watch but couldn’t provide an option for electronic seats!

  • MBZ

    Transmission is CVT, not 5 speed automatic. I guess it is wrongly mentioned in the details.

  • Leborde

    Can’t wait for the Type R.

  • Vivek

    Had a test of the Civic RS some time last month and here are a few of my thoughts.

    The car has some nice touches but I can’t quite get myself to like the proportions. Something looks wrong. Would have preferred the lip spoiler over the current overdone spoiler on the RS. Anyways, it’s not as boring, at least the RS model, as some of its rivals. Space is abundant in the interior. Interior looks great from afar but fit and finish is a mixed bag. Some odd decisions on placement of plastics in my opinion. Didn’t get to use Android Auto or Apple Car Play but the standard Honda infotainment system looks outdated and slow.

    Didn’t really get to test much of the handling but the ride is quite nice, almost like that of a much more expensive car. Liked the healthy torque available but the CVT, although far better than some of the Nissans I’ve driven, is still very much rubber band like on hard acceleration.

    Really a shame that the dealer doesn’t import cars fitted with Honda Sense. Would have been nice, specially at this price point, to have ACC, Lane Departure, Auto-Brake, etc. Seriously though, manually adjustable seats at 96K? To top it all off, no service contract when everyone else seems to be offering one. Not helping themselves are they..

  • moaz

    crapped out gcc specs again!! futtaim honda is just not getting it manual seat speced out … seriously anxd acc and lane keep very sad getting a full option altima 2.5

    test drove the rs good handling brakes and accelaration good interior but not worth out the show room a year old for 65-75k for sure.. deciding against amd going for safer choice altima!! 2017

  • K

    I’ve never read a review where the editor feels the power from the engine is sufficient. I’ve driven an accord and civic and found them to have potent engines but when you read reviews, these guys make it sound like turtles. Seriously, does the average buyer really need a sprint from 0-100 in daily driving ?
    A 30-50km/h gain in speed would be the more realistic acceleration for the average commuter.

    • Penn

      For the PRICE it is slow. There is faster cars for same price. A Focus ST will murder this Civic RS. IF other cars are slower, what is average buyer paying extra for? Buy Corolla then. Accord is separate case.

  • K

    That still doesn’t change the fact that regardless of the power the engines make, you’ll never see reviews of mass market cars being peppy. And I think 0-100 times should be measured at night cus during the afternoon heat I doubt any car engine will be at it’s peak

  • Hafeez

    i love this car launched in Pakistan for Rs 3,000,000

  • host

    Honda fan boys have to be really innovative this time round to justify their choice.

  • K

    ^ Well, at least you get a lot of car for the money in the EX trim.
    Why pass judgements before even driving one yourself ?

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