HONDA CIVIC VTi-L HATCH
It lacks leather trim and satnav but gets reversing camera as well as front and rear parking sensors. There are climate control aircon, electric folding mirrors, push-button start, dusk-sensing headlights and auto-up function on all windows. Capped servicing is expensive at $1768 over three years, at six months/10,000km.
The interior feels well put together but the dash is too busy — three different colour schemes vie for attention. The centre screen is functional and easy to navigate but looks plugged in rather than integrated. The ambient blue lighting in the doors lifts the appearance at night, though. The front seats are comfortable, with plenty of side support, while the seats fold two ways to fit high or long loads. A 12V plug and luggage net in the load area are among the deft touches.
The 1.8-litre four-cylinder requires a lot of revs to get going and even then, it’s not one of the stronger engines around. The five-speed automatic isn’t state of the art either and doesn’t shift as smartly as the class leaders. Official fuel consumption is good, at 6.6L/100km, but we used up to 12L in bumper to bumper-to-bumper city traffic. It takes premium unleaded.
The Civic hatch scored five stars and 36.03/37 in ANCAP crash tests. It has six airbags and seat belt reminders for all five seats. The hazard lights activate after an emergency stop and there’s a tyre pressure warning. It lacks the more sophisticated driver assistance tech.
The engine may be somewhat asthmatic but the little Honda is otherwise a sporty drive. Its steering feels sharper and more accurate than the Peugeot and it has plenty of grip in corners. When provoked, the nose pushes wide predictably and progressively when provoked. The ride is a bit busy around town due to the firmer suspension but it soaks up bigger bumps well.
VERDICT It’s neck and neck. The Peugeot has the edge in the style and power contest but the Honda just edges ahead on safety and driving dynamics