The P1.29-M base Honda Civic is the daily driver variant of choice

All the right trimmings, minus the bigger price tag
by Jason Tulio | Mar 9, 2022
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PHOTO: Honda Cars Philippines
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The compact sedan segment has certainly seen better days in our market. What was once the go-to option for those looking for something smaller than an SUV is now in a weird purgatory between the more affordable subcompact sedans and the larger crossovers. 

Still, there are some models that manage to make an impact on buyers and enthusiasts despits its segment’s waning popularity. In 2022, the Honda Civic is chief among them. 

The 11th-generation of the iconic nameplate landed on our shores late last year with one major selling point: All variants would come with a 1.5-liter turbo engine—an honor previously reserved for the top-spec RS variant in the previous model. 

So, three variants, one engine. We drove the top-of-the-line RS variant at launch, and while it’s as fun and tech-packed as advertised, we couldn’t help but wonder how the other variants fare. 

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During a recent drive hosted by Honda Cars Philippines, we found ourselves behind the wheel of the base S CVT variant, which gave us a chance to compare the two. 

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What’s missing on the 2022 Honda Civic’s base variant?

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Most of the cost-cutting measures are on the inside. It gets a seven-inch infotainment system in place of the nine-inch unit (though it still comes with Wireless Apple CarPlay). There is no built-in navigation system or wireless charging, and the Bose 12-speaker sound system has been cut down to just four nondescript speakers. The A/C here a single-zone system rather than a dual, and the vents in the rear have been removed. Other sacrifices include fabric seats and a urethane steering wheel (in place of leather), manual seat adjustment, and no sports pedals.

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On the outside, the S CVT gets manually adjusted old-school halogen lamps paired with LED daytime running lights and no fog lights. The side mirrors also don’t fold electronically here. Underneath, the sedan runs on 16-inch tires paired with alloy wheels. 

Less features, same engine

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However, what isn’t missing here are two key things: the turbo engine and the Honda Sensing suite of safety features. On the road, the S CVT is similar to the RS in terms of performance. Granted, the former isn’t so race-ready—driving it with Eco switched on in Drive mode leaves you a bit lacking at highway speeds. While there is no dedicated Sport mode or paddle shifters on the S CVT, flicking the shifter down to S and toggling the Eco switch off makes a considerable difference to how the revs climb. 

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The power from the turbo engine comes on in decent time at lower speeds. At the higher end of highway speed limits, there is a bit of noticeable lag, but nothing a bit of patience and throttle prodding can’t handle. 

Honda Sensing comes standard

On top of this, the S CVT gets every Honda Sensing safety feature as the RS. This includes useful functions like lane-keep assist system, colission mitigation braking system, and lane-departure warning. It also comes with adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, which works an absolute treat on highways and in bumper-to-bumper traffic. 

The 16-inch tires, meanwhile, prove more forgiving on potholes and pockmarked roads versus the 18-inch rubber on the RS. While the S CVT isn’t as precise through corners and has quite a bit more body roll, it’s much more comfortable for navigating everyday streets. 

At P1.29 million, the Civic S CVT is P400,000 cheaper than the RS. Though it lacks in creature comforts and isn’t quite as sporty, it retains the features that matter most and offers them in a more practical package. 

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PHOTO: Honda Cars Philippines
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