A new lifeline? Honda bounces back with superb new Civic RS now in South Africa

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 • Honda South Africa has launched the eleventh-generation Civic in August.
 • Only one model derivative is available, the RS sedan. The Type R will arrive in 2023.
 • Pricing for the new model is R669 900.



Honda launched their eleventh-generation Civic in Gauteng in August, hot on the heels of the recently launched HR-V SUV. The Japanese automaker was once very popular with great cars and even better reliability, but sales have dwindled these past few years. Launching their latest new models could revive the automaker's fame and fortune in the local market.

The new Civic impresses immediately with its svelte, crisp sedan profile, and purposeful stance, thanks to the wheel placement right at the outer edges of the wheel arches. A continuous styling line extends from the nose all the way through the flanks to the boot area, and the car appears to be highly cohesive from a stylistic point of view. And that extends to the no-nonsense yet plush interior, fully equipped with all the latest connectivity, safety, and driving aids. Many of these features are operated from the spokes of the traditional small-diameter Honda steering wheel.

2022 Honda Civic RS
2022 Honda Civic RS

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It's only available in one model, and that's the Civic RS in sedan guise. It has an impressive turbocharged 1.5-litre multi-valve four-cylinder petrol engine and a CVT gearbox. Lest I hear groans from the readership at this point, let me hasten to add that this is definitely the most successful rendition of a Continuously Variable Transmission I have tested to date. It perfectly mimics the best examples of a multi-speed traditional automatic transmission, with programmed steps in the way the belts interact with the cone system of the CVT. Thus you effectively enjoy fixed ratios that are held appropriately when accelerating hard, but the transmission shifts up seamlessly once the engine's redline is reached. So: none of the horrid droning that afflicts lesser CVT renditions.

The 131kW engine is a free-revving jewel, running beyond the 6 000 rpm power peak with gusto and a sporty note that is never intrusive, even when you are nailing the loud pedal. When driven gently, thanks to a flat spread of torque with a peak of 240Nm at just 1 700rpm, Honda claims an overall fuel consumption figure of 6.2-litres/100 km. This figure is quite believable because the CVT gearbox is so efficient in cruising mode, enabling low revs at light throttle openings.

The fuel tank has a capacity of just 47 litres, which once may have been considered small. But with the excellent economy that is achievable, this will translate to a range of 700km or more, which is quite acceptable.

2022 Honda Civic RS
2022 Honda Civic RS

The cabin of the Civic is a very soothing place. Upholstery is a mix of suede and leather, tastefully stitched in red cotton to extend the sporty RS theme of this rendition of the Civic. And lest the question of "what about the new Civic Type R?" is raised at this point, Honda assures us that the next-gen Type R, for many enthusiasts, the ultimate sporty hot hatch available, will be making its appearance in 2023.

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This raises the point about the new Civic rendition being a sedan. At the launch, Honda paid homage to all previous 10 versions of the Civic, going back to 1972. South Africans never enjoyed that first rendition, but in the early 1980s, the Honda marque entered the four-wheel arena with the second version. The thing is, this second Civic rendition, a small sedan, was launched here as the Ballade. And that name was used for several ensuing generations of the small Honda sedan extending well into the 1990s. When the Civic nameplate arrived here in the late 1990s, it was in hatchback form.


In the early years of Honda's four-wheeled presence in South Africa (Honda motorcycles were on sale here from the early 1960s), the brand soon gained a reputation for exceptional build quality and reliability, which holds true until today.

The air of quality and solidity in this new Civic RS is evident from the moment you jump in and close the door. And once on the move, you realise that a fine balance of razor-sharp steering responses and ride quality is once again the over-riding feature you enjoy about a premium-level Honda.

2022 Honda Civic RS
2022 Honda Civic RS

The RS comes with standard 18-inch alloys and low-profile tyres, yet the ride is never harsh, despite the suspension's firmness. Road noise is also minimal.

As for safety, the new Civic sedan comes with six airbags, ABS (anti-lock braking system), cornering assist and a suite of electronic driving aids. These include collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane-keep assistance, road departure mitigation, lane-watch camera and auto high beam control.

As for creating a special interior ambience, the RS also comes with a Bose Surround Stage 12-speaker audio system, which apparently was custom-engineered for the new Civic.

2022 Honda Civic RS
2022 Honda Civic RS


Further, on the subject of luxury equipment, the front seats are electrically adjustable, and the body shape provides ample rear head-and-leg room for full-sized adults of a typical South African configuration. Honda has also paid plenty of attention to the layout of the controls in the front section of the cabin, and the placement of digitised instrumentation, switches, and knobs is logical and easy on the eye. I liked that mesh feature in the dashboard that runs the width of the cockpit, giving the car a hint of retro-modern personality and breaking up the austerity of the predominantly charcoal interior.

2022 Honda Civic RS
2022 Honda Civic RS

All in all, this is a car that competes very strongly, in both appearance and perceived quality, with the small sedan entry-range offerings from the likes of Audi and BMW.

It is priced at R669 000 and includes an impressive five-year or 200 000km warranty, a five-year service plan, and three-year AA roadside assistance coverage.


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