HONDA CIVIC VTI-S

Small-car sta­ple mod­els play leap-frog in styling and tech terms. Richard Black­burn is the judge

Herald Sun - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -

VALUE

A $400 ad­van­tage over the Mazda but doesn’t get in­te­grated sat­nav or the Maxx’s driver as­sis­tance sys­tems. It will mir­ror your smart­phone menu on the cen­tre screen. Other com­forts in­clude dig­i­tal ra­dio, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, push-but­ton start and re­vers­ing cam­era. Ser­vic­ing is $1193 over three years, with in­ter­vals at 10,000km. War­ranty is av­er­age at three years/100,000km.

DE­SIGN-TECH

Modern look­ing in­stru­ment panel and touch­screen in­te­grated into the dash make the Mazda look dated and un­der­done. The dis­plays are clear and pre­cise and the dig­i­tal speedo is handy. At night, the Honda lights up like a space ship. The cabin is more spa­cious, with bet­ter legroom, more rear shoul­der-room, big­ger boot and am­ple stor­age space. Add qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and classy fin­ishes.

EN­GINE

The 1.8-litre four-cylin­der is ad­e­quate rather than in­spir­ing. It’s slightly thirstier than the Mazda, us­ing a claimed 6.4L/100km com­pared to the Mazda’s 5.7L de­spite be­ing down on power (104kW to 114kW) and torque (174Nm to 200Nm). Put that down to the Mazda killing the en­gine at the lights; the Honda doesn’t. The con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion makes the most of the mod­est power, though, keep­ing the en­gine in its sweet spot — if a tad nois­ily.

SAFETY

Apart from the re­vers­ing cam­era, six airbags and the “LaneWatch” blind spot cam­era (which mon­i­tors only the pas­sen­ger side of the car), it’s light-on for driver as­sis­tance gad­gets. It has seat belt re­minders for all five seats. Hasn’t been crash-tested yet but the pre­vi­ous model scored five stars.

DRIV­ING

Com­fort­able and com­pe­tent on the road. The steer­ing is a high­light; it feels sharp, well-weighted and ac­cu­rate. The car also soaks up road im­per­fec­tions bet­ter than most small cars, al­though it can feel a lit­tle floaty over big­ger bumps. It lacks Mazda’s sporty feel but cor­ners with con­fi­dence and is above av­er­age for the class.

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