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Brand New Honda Civic

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Tony O'Kane | Dec 26, 2012 | 6 Comments

NOTE: Click here to read the first update.

Type: Small hatchback
Engine: 1.8 litre naturally-aspirated petrol inline four
Power/Torque: 104kW/174Nm | Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel economy claimed: 6.1 l/100km | tested to date: 9.0 l/100km
Kilometres travelled: 343km

Can “small hatchback” and “load-lugger” be used in the same sentence? You wouldn’t ordinarily co-join them - most small hatches are... well... small.

And not particularly useful for handling bulkier items.

2012 honda civic vti s long term review 01
But, as we found, the Honda Civic Hatch has a party trick up its sleeve. It’s one of those rare cars that manages to pack a hell-of-a-lot into that small-ish hatchback frame.

Chalk that down to its clever rear seat arrangement.

It allows either a full 1130 litres of cargo space with the backrests folded forward (and a nice flat floor too), or a useful 400 litres with the rear seats up.

Not only that, but Honda’s “Magic Seats” allow the rear seat squab to fold upwards against the backrest.

Tall items can then be placed on the rear floormats instead of having to be laid on their side, and suddenly transporting things like pot plants or TVs isn’t the chore it used to be.

So when an interstate friend asked us to collect a set of wheels (like ‘actual’ wheels), we did it in the Civic - despite having a wagon on test at the time.

Astonishingly, we managed to fit all four 18-inch alloy wheels - in boxes - in the space behind the front seats. The tops of the boxes didn’t even reach the window line, and although the fit was snug, it was hardly a squeeze.

We could have fitted another four in the boot area, such is the TARDIS-like capability of the Civic Hatch. The only blot on the Civic’s report card is a fairly high boot lip, which can make loading heavy or bulky items difficult.

What of the rest of the car?

Well, after a busy period of attending launches and shuffling back and forth between the airport and home, the absence of cruise control is starting to get on our nerves.

Yes, the digital speed readout is right in the line-of-sight and makes it easy to keep tabs on your speed, but for long stretches of highway you really do need cruise control.

2012 honda civic vti s long term review 06
Likewise Bluetooth. Given recent crackdowns on mobile phone use while behind the wheel, not having integrated Bluetooth telephony is a real handicap.

Drivers will benefit from it, and legislators are calling for it, so Honda needs to make it standard across its range.

On the plus side, we’re really starting to like the Honda’s seats. Upholstered in velour, they’re padded in all the right places and give excellent lower back support, despite not having any lumbar adjustment.

After driving an Opel Astra for a week and enduring that car’s misshapen seatback, I was all too happy to jump back into the Civic and soothe my spinal column.

Interestingly, Honda has also dropped the price of entry to the Civic Hatch range. The VTi-S manual now starts at a Manufacturer's List Price of $19,250, undercutting all of its key rivals.

So, it’s finally wearing the right pricetag, but is that enough to overlook the lack of cruise or Bluetooth, and will it entice you into a Honda showroom?

That’s the nub for Honda.

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