Honda_Civic_RS_frontHonda Civic RS is not a full-on sports model – that’s left to the very serious Civic Type R. Rather it has a stronger look with a more aggressive front. This is complemented by the orange and black paint that’s new for the 2020 model year.

Both the Civic sedan and hatch have the coupe-like profile that works neatly and pleased all those who viewed our test car.

Civic’s strongly shaped grille is flanked by narrow headlight clusters that sit above large honeycombed air intakes. As befits its semi-sports nature the RS gets high-tech LED headlights. All Civic models have daytime running lights at the upper edge of the headlights, these add to its strong frontal appearance.

The Civic RS comes with an integrated body kit, including a gloss black grille, rear spoiler, sunroof and sports wheels. Our road test car was in a new shade for the 2020 makeover – a deep burnt orange shade that married beautifully with the black highlights.

The interior has an elegant look and feel which lifts it nicely from many others in this class. The dashboard is logically designed with a tachometer and digital speedometer directly in front of the driver and a large infotainment touchscreen in the centre of the dash.

The Civic RS has a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. It produces 127 kW of power, and peak torque of 220 Nm spread out all the way from 1700 to 5500 rpm.

All current Civic models have a continuously variable transmission (CVT) The turbo-engined 1.5-litre variants also gets paddle shifters to let keen drivers increase or decrease the ratios according to what they think are best for the road conditions. There’s a Sport setting in the RS that makes it holds revs for longer in each ‘gear’.


The dashboard display is a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen in all models but without any physical buttons for the more commonly-used functions such as audio and air conditioning control. This can lead to a potential increase in driver inattention.

Apple CarPlay comes with Siri Eyes Free mode and Android Auto with Google Voice for hands-free operations. Both connect via USB cable rather than being wireless.

Bluetooth phone and audio streaming are also standard and there’s a clever two-tier smartphone tray with a cable management opening at the lower part of the front console.

The standard 180-Watt audio system has eight speakers, the CIVIC RS as tested has a 542-Watt premium audio with 12 speakers, including two satellite speakers, centre speaker and sub-woofer.

The top spec Civic RS has the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assist technology that includes automatic emergency braking; forward collision warning; lane departure warning; adaptive cruise control with low speed follow; lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation.

It’s good to see that all Civic models, not just the topline ones, get a multi-angle reversing camera; emergency stop signal; low tyre pressure warning; hill start assist; and IsoFix child seat anchor points on the two outer rear seats.

The RS has front and rear parking sensors as well as LaneWatch which uses a camera mounted on the left-hand mirror to provide an 80-degree view of the left lane when the left indicator is activated. Can’t say as I’ve ever liked the latter feature as I would rather use the – correctly adjusted – left mirror. But see what you think during your pre purchase test drive.


The front seats are comfortable, though some might prefer them to have more support in corners. The rears have decent legroom though, as is often the case a tall person behind the driver may have to do a deal on knee and foot space.

The 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine pulls strongly with little lag. The CVT automatic is well-matched to the engine with the option of paddle shifting for manual control if required.

Latest generation Honda G-Design shift logic aids acceleration and has a more positive driving touch with reduced turbo lag.

The ride is rather firm at times and a quite noisy on harsh surface. We feel this is acceptable as it emphasises the sporting nature of the RS. But test for yourself if you’re more interested in the styling than the ability to thrash the Honda around corners.

On the open road Civic is most enjoyable in that typical Honda way that we’ve come to appreciate over many years. It grips well in corners and is happy to change direction. The steering is on the heavy side, just the way we like it.

We really like the instrument lighting that increases and decreases in brightness to reflect driving efficiency ranging from green through bluish-green and up to blue. Great way to know that you’re getting the sort of performance you love.

Fuel consumption is officially listed at 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres. We averaged in the eight to nine litre range around town and six to seven in the country and on motorways.

The gen-ten Honda Civic looks great and has a refined feel. The new turbo-petrol engine is has plenty of torque that will suit keen drives who just love to get the best from their cars.

VTi 1.8-litre sedan: $22,590 (CVT)
VTi-S 1.8-litre sedan: $25,290 (CVT)
VTi-L 1.5-litre sedan: $28,690 (CVT)
RS 1.5-litre sedan: $33,340 (CVT)
VTi-LX 1.5-litre sedan: $34,390 (CVT)
VTi 1.8-litre hatch: $22,790 (CVT)
VTi-S 1.8-litre hatch: $25,490 (CVT)
VTi-L 1.5-litre hatch: $28,890 (CVT)
RS 1.5-litre hatch: $34,040 (CVT)
VTi-LX 1.5-litre hatch: $34,590 (CVT)
Type R 2.0-litre hatch: $51,990 (manual)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Honda dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Honda Civic 1.5-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch)

Capacity: 1.498 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 127 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 220 Nm @ 1700 rpm
Fuel Type: 91ROM
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 140 g/km

DRIVELINE: Continuously variable automatic

Length: 4644 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1799 mm
Height: 1416 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1331 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 47 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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