Honda is a brand with a traditional upmarket image, so it may come as a surprise to learn that the Honda Civic VTi is the most affordable Japanese hatchback in the small car market today. Properly speaking, the Civic is built in Thailand, not Japan, which is why even the Hyundai i30 Go from South Korea with automatic transmission is just $250 cheaper than the Civic in this level of trim, and practically every small car from Japan has dropped to the bargain basement models that used to compete with the Civic VTi, leaving Honda in the unusual position of selling real value, at an affordable price.
The front seats of the Civic wrap around you comfortably, indeed. The cushioning is very soft and supportive, and they’re very well-shaped, and Honda has also dialled back the quirky ergonomics with this new volume control knob for the audio control system, rather than the slide it used in the past. What features are missing to bring this Honda unit at a price to undercut Korean cars? Not that many, as it turns out.
The Honda comes with Apple Car Play, even allowing the driver to teleconference through the ZOOM app on iPhone. Buyers will forgo dual zone climate control, auto headlights, and a push-to-start button, but those features won’t be available in similarly priced competitors either. The Honda does feature an eight-speaker audio system, two more speakers than the Hyundai i30. Longer than its rivals, but lower too, the Civic provides roomy accommodation in the rear seat, although passengers over 180 centimetres tall may feel a bit short-changed for headroom. And the lack of adjustable vents is disappointing at this price point, but not unexpected.
The extra length of the Civic results in a boot volume that’s a far cry from the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla hatchbacks. A space saver spare tire under the floor is partly responsible for that generous volume. Performance is a little on the leisurely side, but the car’s fuel economy more than compensates, and acceleration is certainly brisk enough to satisfy the needs of urban commuters. It’s a relaxing car to drive, and the Civic certainly delivers an excellent balance of ride and handling. This car is the polar opposite of the mighty Civic Type R in almost every way, but there is definitely a place in the market for the Civic VTi. In fact, given its driving dynamics, its build quality, its comfort, its practicality and its price, it’s amazing the Civic VTi doesn’t sell in much larger numbers.
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