2012 Honda Civic VTi-L Sedan Automatic Review Photo:
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What's Hot
Solid interior, roomy boot and back seat.
What's Not
Highway performance is lack-lustre
Being a Honda means dependability; a feeling of class and easy style will do it for some
Kez Casey | Jun, 02 2012 | 7 Comments


Vehicle Style: Small sedan
Price: $23,290 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 6.7 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.0 l/100km



The 2012 Honda Civic may not look greatly different to the model it replaces, but perhaps that's part of its appeal. It's certainly nicely styled and, instead of adding complexity, the new Civic keeps things simple.

There’s also a keener price for the new entry level VTi-L, which comes with a saving of $3700 over the model it replaces. That saving comes without sacrificing equipment or comfort.

There’s a lot to like in the new Civic, but it has a tough fight on its hands against vastly improved new competition from Korea - as well as from the dominant Mazda3, Cruze, and Focus sedan. (How'd you like to be dookin' it out with that bunch?)



Quality: At the helm the Civic impresses. The ‘greige’ colour scheme isn’t the latest and greatest, but there is a feel of quality to the dash and interior surfaces, and the grain and patterning looks terrific.

We get the impression from the robust feel to things that this is an interior that will pass the test of time.

Comfort: In the Civic, Honda’s two-tier instrument cluster works perfectly. It's clear and easy to read, sitting behind a small diameter steering wheel that falls comfortably to hand.

Front seats are tight though and larger occupants might find them a bit of a squeeze.

Plush velour seat trim adds a premium touch, and travellers in the rear will be pleased to find a spacious bench with good legroom and a flat floor.

Equipment: As an entry level model the Civic VTi-L features velour seat trim, multi-function display for the trip computer and audio system, multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, CD player with iPod, USB and aux in connectivity, four speakers, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony.

Storage: With seats in place there’s a reasonable 440 litres for cargo space, and release levers in the boot for the 60:40 folding rear bench.

The centre console features numerous storage solutions, both lidded and open, but the door pockets are quite small and hard to access.



Driveability: With a 1230Kg kerb weight and the 1.8 litre i-Vtec engine producing an honest 104kW of power and 174Nm of torque, the Civic is brisk enough for zipping through city traffic or scouting around suburban streets.

The five-speed auto is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but it works quite well keeping things on the boil in traffic.

In the best Honda tradition, the 1.8 litre engine thrives on a good rev. And, although the best of the power and torque comes on higher in the rev-range, you don't have to wring its neck to keep it on the move.

At freeway speeds though it's not as happy. Here, we found the Civic a little lethargic. While there’s no trouble getting up to speed there’s not much left in reserve for overtaking.

Refinement: Around town, the Civic is smooth, quiet and comfortable. It's also quite refined; little noise and vibration finds it way into the cabin, making it a good choice for comfort-focused buyers.

Head out of town though and noise picks up as speed rises. At highway speeds there’s noticeable road noise and quite a bit of wind-rush around the front of the cabin.

Suspension: Suspension hardware consists of MacPerson struts up front with a multi-link independent rear. While there’s good wheel travel, and the suspension will blot out big hits, it lacks a little composure if being driven enthusiastically.

Put it through fast bends and it will run wide while the rear feels nervous. And, on less-than-perfect road surfaces, it jitters and rocks which is less than ideal on long runs.

Braking: Brake pedal feel is a little soft but things work as they should in normal driving. We found though that after some heavy stops, performance dropped off a little, despite the vented front discs and solid rear discs.



ANCAP rating: Five stars.

Safety features: Driver and front passenger airbags, front seat side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, ABS brakes with brake assist and brake override function (to prevent runaways the brake takes priority over the accelerator if both are pressed simultaneously), electronic brakeforce distribution, and Vehicle Stability Assist (ESP) with traction control.

There is also front seatbelt pretensioners, front whiplash reducing head restraints, three-point seatbelts with seatbelt reminders and adjustable head restraints for all five seats.



Warranty: Three years/100,000km with six years rust perforation warranty.

Service costs: Servicing costs may vary, consult your local Honda dealer before purchase.



Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport ($22,990) - This current generation of Corolla is starting to get long in the tooth, but it still provides high quality transportation as well as the Toyota promise of lasting quality.

Although there’s a small price advantage the features list is a little short, and the Corolla is currently stuck with items like 15-inch steel wheels and a four-speed auto. (see Corolla reviews)

Renault Fluence Dynamique ($24,990) - While Renault’s offering isn’t exactly easy on the eye, it does pack in a lot of equipment. Not to mention generous levels of interior space.

Fluence also sports a 2.0 litre engine, there’s no additional power but a healthy dose of torque. Renault’s CVT transmission doesn’t feel quite as polished as Civic’s five-speed auto. (see Fluence reviews)

Hyundai Elantra Active ($22,590) - Hyundai’s Elantra offers plenty to like, with swoopy styling and a rich equipment list. Unlike the Civic the Elantra is a more accomplished handler with a greater feeling of high-speed security.

Inside the Elantra is as fresh as the Civic is sombre but that swooping roofline takes its toll on headspace, particularly in the rear. (see Elantra reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.



With a clear and logically presented interior, and a quality feel throughout, the new Honda Civic feels strong, long-lasting and very well-built.

It lacks the verve that Civics were once very well-known for, but offers space and comfort, and performance that works well around town. That "Civic" name sits comfortably with Honda's civilised new small sedan.

Yes, there’s still much to like about the Civic. It may not be the all-rounder some might be looking for, but there's a bit of class about the Civic and it's right at home as a stylish city commuter.



  • Civic VTi-L - 1.8 litre manual - $20,990
  • Civic VTi-L - 1.8 litre auto - $23,290
  • Civic Sport - 2.0 litre auto - $27,990
  • Civic Hybrid - 1.5 litre petrol / IMA system - CVT automatic - $35,990
  • Metallic paint: $475.

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

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