A fresh, sporty take on the beloved hot hatch.
For motoring enthusiasts and car culture fundi’s, the Honda Civic represents something unique. With more than 50 years of history and a following that has seen the RS and Type R models rocket to icon status, the Civic remains popular and loved globally – and equally so in South Africa.
This 11th generation Civic was launched in 2022 to high expectations. The RS arrived with a fresh face, loads of new features, and the responsibility of making true petrolheads happy. There’s just one RS to consider – the souped-up version of the standard Civic sedan and the gateway to Honda’s famous Type R sporty hot hatch. For fans of the brand, the RS has big shoes to fill. Not only is it meant to be athletic and exciting to drive, but it carries Honda’s reputation for reliability and value for money.
At a glance
The RS builds on the easy design of the Civic Sedan by vamping it out with a few choice features to set it apart. These include an understated rear spoiler that elevates the cheeky, angular taillights and dual-exhaust outlets, hinting at its sporty nature. The spoiler, side mirrors, shark fin antenna, door handles and 18-inch wheels are all blacked out to complement the black dual-grille. A sunroof is standard with this model, along with LED headlights, fog lights, and daytime running lights. Auto high beams are included, too.
Dimensions for the sedan are naturally larger than that of the famed Type R. It has a total length of 4 677 cm over a wheelbase of 2 735 cm, with the width coming in at 1 802 cm, and a height of 1 415 cm – making the RS slightly shorter than its Type R counterpart. The RS benefits from a tighter turning circle and with a kerb weight of 1 348 kg, it is lighter by a few kilograms as well.
Whereas the Type R is clearly all about performance, the RS sedan is more demure. The blacked-out exterior accents and rear spoiler indicate that this is no run-of-the-mill sedan. And for those who enjoy the somewhat lowkey aspect of the RS, its appearance is spot on.
This new-generation RS is super fresh, and nowhere is this more apparent than inside the cabin. While Honda hasn’t shied away from using top-notch materials, the latest RS is a commitment to maintaining a near-premium status. Its fit and finish are excellent, and the cabin is set out in a way that makes the driver feel at one with their environment.
Upholstery is a combination of leather and suede on the seats, with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and more hide on the shifter. While the driver’s seat is eight-way power adjustable, the front passenger gets a four-way manually-adjustable seat. Ambient red lighting illuminates even the door lining in a vibrant way, spiking your heart rate just a tad.
The cabin is well-equipped with features that speak to comfort and convenience, but also attest to the Civic RS’s intended purpose – thrilling the driver. So, while there is dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a rear-view camera, power windows, and front and rear parking sensors, there’s also a 10,2-inch multi-information TFT display for the driver. Infotainment is taken care of by a nine-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, Android Auto, and wireless Apple CarPlay. Built-in navigation and wireless charging are added conveniences, while the standard sound system offers up a 12-speaker unit from Bose – ultra-premium for the Civic line-up.
Under the bonnet
Under the bonnet of the RS sedan rests a 1,5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. This produces 131 kW of power and 240 Nm of torque. It’s paired to a CVT – unlike in the Type R, which enthusiasts would howl at if a manual wasn’t standard. The CVT sends power to the front wheels, and while this kind of transmission is never ideal in a car with sporting aspirations, it’s not terrible.
Sport mode will see it imitate a regular shifter, and you can use paddle shifters for a more engaging feel. Slamming your foot down won’t lurch you forward, but a gradual approach to increasing power will be much more rewarding. The dash to 100 km per hour takes around eight seconds (not as thrilling as the Type R’s sub-six-second time), but you do get vastly improved fuel economy over its sibling hot hatch, with figures claimed at 6,2 litres per 100 km.
Driving the Civic RS is a pleasure from the perspective of a commuter who wants a few thrills. Enthusiasts will prefer the taut and responsive Type R, but for what the Honda Civic RS sets out to do, it’s a blast.
So, what’s the scoop?
Sporty it may be, but the RS is still a sedan that doubles as a family car when it’s not driving your adrenaline up. In terms of safety features the Civic RS comes with stability assist, ABS, EBD, hill start assist, brake hold, and a full complement of airbags. The Honda Sensing suite is also included, which makes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, and a LaneWatch camera standard. Safety? Check.
Honda is respected for their reliable reputation, and the Civic RS comes with a comprehensive five-year/200 000 km warranty, that covers services for the same number of years, or 90 000 km. Reliability? Check.
Pricing for the Honda Civic RS starts at R689 100, which, considering the feature-filled spec sheet, the excellent cabin filled with conveniences, and the love-to-play powertrain and chassis, is worth every penny. For those shopping for a dual-role car that will remain practical and reliable as a family transporter in the week and still allow you to have fun on the weekends, and the RS simply must be on your test drive list. Affordable fun? Check.