First Drive: 2023 Honda Civic Sport in the UAE
Every working man’s unsung hero is his reliable daily driver. For many, it is the Honda Civic. In 2022 we got an all-new model ready to take on rivals like the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra in the competitive compact sedan segment.
The Civic has been growing with every generation, and it’s almost mid-size now. In fact, with a length and width of 4,677 mm and 1,802 mm, respectively, it’s even bigger than the first three generations of the Accord.
As with size, even the exterior design has graduated from rental car banality to the upscale, desirable outlook we see today. The frontal design is characterized by a pronounced nose flanked by sleek LED headlamps overlined by LED DRLs and gaping sections in the bumper underlined by a subtle splitter.
The profile is mainly about that fastback silhouette. At the same time, the rear gets neat LED-lit luminaries that resemble those on a 2017 Hyundai Sonata and dual exhaust tips. This Sport also has several black details like the front grille, side mirror housings, door handles, rear spoiler, window surrounds, and 5-spoke 17-inch alloys. The result is a cohesive design that looks both executive and sporty.
Keeping with the Honda ethos is a no-nonsense black interior with a mix of soft and hard plastics (below one’s beltline). The point of distinction is the honeycomb strip running across the dashboard and the cleverly integrated A/C vents. But the knurled knobs for the A/C controls, often seen on luxury vehicles, are a fine touch.
Tech-wise, there is a rather large 9-inch infotainment screen to help operate the many functions. And while the touch response is adequate, Honda has thankfully equipped it with physical knobs and buttons for volume, home, etc.
And it does get Apple CarPlay but no Android Auto, though. Also, you can stream music via Bluetooth through 8 speakers that serve up to 180 Watts of decent sound fidelity (audiophiles may beg to differ) while simultaneously charging your smartphone on the 15W wireless charging pad or by plugging it into the USB port above it.
All the car’s vitals are conveyed through the 10.2-inch colour TFT Screen. And typically, in Honda fashion, the graphics and lettering are neat and legible. In its foreground is a 3-spoke steering wheel which the driver will find easy to grip even without heavy bolstering, but the shifter is a tad small and doesn’t quite fill the palm well.
The seats look great with perforated leather surfaces and neat contrast stitching, but the low-slung position isn’t ideal for old knees. The rear seats are suitable for two adults and a child, not three adults. One can also get a fair amount of luggage into the 400-plus litre boot and more if you drop down the 60:40 split folding seats.
Honda Civic engine specs
The only engine available is the single-scroll turbo 1.5-litre inline 4-cylinder, which it shares with the base Accord, albeit in a lesser state of tune. The max output is rated at 180 hp at 6,000 rpm. And the 240 Nm of max torque available at 4,500 rpm is channelled through a CVT to the front wheels only.
This is a strong motor with a good amount of pull from the dig and on the move. Race it against the clock, and it will hit 100 kph in under 8 seconds.
But the CVT’s clinginess means that it is prone to exhaust drone, especially under hard acceleration. Also, it isn’t the quickest shifting transmission, even with the use of paddle shifters, but it goes about doing its job seamlessly.
The 20 Nm of torque advantage over its predecessor also makes it very drivable in everyday situations, with a good set of ventilated (front) and solid (rear) discs to reel you in whenever necessary. You can also switch between Sport, Normal, and Eco modes for genuinely distinctive driving experiences.
There is also decent feedback and accuracy from the EPS and a fair bit of dynamism in the chassis to work with. Guess credit is owed to the suspension setup (MacPherson struts up front and multi-link rear setup), the power-appropriate 215/55R17 tyres, and general lightness. It also delivers a ride quality that slots somewhere between plush and harsh – typical of this class.
The fuel economy Honda projects is a highly optimistic 19.3 km/l, but that’s not to say that the Civic isn’t fuel efficient. You can easily hit 18 km/l on the highway and 12 km/l overall, carrying you over 550 km before the 47-litre tank is all fumes.
Giving you a sense of active and passive assurance is a grand suite of safety features under ‘Honda Sensing’, like Collision Mitigation System, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control. You also get a rear camera and Hill Start Assist. And if the TPMS indicates a possible puncture, you can swap the incumbent for a proper full-size spare.
The 2023 Honda Civic Sport is a well-rounded vehicle with a sporty edge priced a tad high at AED 126,500. The bigger size, extra tech and safety features and better quality interior materials come at a cost.
Maybe it would make more sense if Honda bestowed it with the heritage and 20 extra horses of a Si badge. That being said, the region could use a more affordably-priced commuter version of the 11th gen Civic, for which buyers are hopefully willing to forgo the turbo motor (for a tried-and-tested naturally aspirated one) and a few features as well.
Editor’s note: The Honda Civic Type-R was launched in our region recently.
2023 HONDA CIVIC SPECIFICATIONS
Price range – Dh. 126,500
Current Model Introduced In – 2022
Body Styles – 4-door sedan
Engine – 1.5L 180 PS inline-4 turbo / 240 Nm
Setup – Front-wheel-drive
Suspension – Front: independent; Rear: independent
Brakes – Front: ventilated discs; Rear: solid discs
Curb Weight – 1362 kg
Length – 4,677 mm
Wheelbase – 2,735 mm
Top Speed – 210 km/h
Test Acceleration 0-100 kph – <8 seconds
Observed Test Fuel Economy – 12 km/l