Recalling the final words from my previous review on the new Honda Civic: "It looks smashing in the RS avatar and I would love to get my hands on one soon." And now I stand in front of the gorgeous new Honda Civic RS. Pumped up versions of commuter cars are not always a big success, as they lose out a lot on the practicality forte. All of them follow the same code: bigger engine, sized up rims, low profile tires, stiffer suspension, some aero bits, and new colors. Now, let's see what the Civic RS is up to…
Surprisingly, the RS features a 1.5 liter engine in lieu of the 2.0 liter engine on the usual Civic. A downgrade, or is it? The 1.5 liter four-cylinder petrol engine is turbocharged and generates 180 horsepower compared with the 158 horsepower generated by the 2.0 liter naturally aspirated Civic. And yes, the Civic RS is the first turbocharged car from Honda for this region. A move in the right direction I would say.
Visually, there are some key features which help the RS stand out of the pack. The most obvious change would be the blacked out front grille in place of the chromed stuff on the non-RS Civics. The black grille stands out especially on the Brilliant Sporty Blue Metallic shade, which is exclusive on the RS. The special blue shade in itself looks great. The door handles have a black chrome finish which adds to the eye-candy factor. Viewed from the rear, there is a trunk spoiler with integrated stop-lamps which flush fits onto the sculpted trunk of the RS. The red RS badge places itself near the right taillight cluster. Twin exhaust pipes are featured on the RS, but they could have been positioned better. It takes a serious look to get a glimpse of the twin pipes. The wheels on the RS also have been upsized to 17 inches in place of the usual 16. The rest of the car is visually retained the same as the usual Civic.
Stepping into the RS, you are greeted by the spacious and high quality cabin of the Civic, but with leather splashed around generously. Changes on the RS include a seven-inch touchscreen audio and navigation system. A part of the screen displays output - the Honda 'Lanewatch' system, which gets its input from a camera mounted on the passenger side rearview mirror. This option is available on the RS, as well as the top option of the normal Civic. Sports pedals replace the traditional rubber pedals on the RS, which provides a sporty feel to the driver. The red ambient lighting within the car cabin further enhances this feel.
Pushing the start/stop button brings the 1.5 liter engine to life, idling smoothly. The RS is no screamer; it is just a Civic with a sprinkle of sportiness on the top. Shift into D and with a firm foot on the gas pedal, the RS's speed climbs up pretty quickly. Turbo kick-in can be felt and engine feels easy even at high revs. Sports mode spices things up a bit more, and, when used in conjunction with the paddle shifters, makes for an interesting drive. Yes, the RS features paddle shifters, which is an option not available on normal Civic models. The CVT transmission ensures smooth gear shifts and seamless power delivery. 17-inch wheels with slightly low profile rubber ensure that the twists, turns and braking performance are well taken care of. It performs well for a front-wheel drive 180 horsepower car. Honda claims that the RS gives a fuel mileage of 20 km/L compared to the 18.5 km/L from the normally aspirated 2.0 liter Civics.
Safety features remain the same across the Civic range, which features ABS with EBD, Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control System, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Dual front airbags and side curtain airbags. The RS also gets LED headlights and fog lights instead of the usual halogen units, which provide the best possible road illumination during your night drives.
In all, I would say the RS is a good effort by Honda and would be a great choice for the performance-oriented Honda driver. It has a good mix of power and fuel efficiency along with traditional Honda reliability. The only downside would be the approximately AED 96,000 price tag, which may deter possible RS owners.
Pros: Handling, fuel economy, easily stands out among non-RS Civics
Cons: A little pricey, touch controls of volume and A/C aren't the best feeds (normal knobs please)
Rivals: Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Volkswagen Golf
Engine: 1.5 L inline-4 turbo, 180 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 220 Nm @ 1,700 rpm
Transmission: CVT, FWD
Performance: 0-100 km/h: 8 sec, 6 L/100 km, top speed: 210 km/h
Weight: 1,326 kg
one word: traditional