Herald Sun - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -


More ex­pen­sive than the Holden but Honda has a spe­cial deal avail­able that in­cludes ex­tended five-year/140,000km war­ranty, five years’ road­side as­sis­tance and $500 worth of ac­ces­sories. Equip­ment lev­els are mod­est, though. There are no auto wipers or head­lights but you do get front and rear park­ing sen­sors, push-but­ton start/key­less en­try and an ad­justable speed limit alarm. Ser­vic­ing is due ev­ery 10,000km or 12 months and costs $1235 for the first four ser­vices.


The heav­ily sculpted flanks and edgy styling are po­lar­is­ing but the cabin feels modern and lux­u­ri­ous for this seg­ment, with high-tech in­stru­ment read­outs and qual­ity ma­te­ri­als. It’s big for a small car as well, with am­ple leg and head­room in the rear and a cav­ernous 512-litre boot that gives good ac­cess to the rear seat for longer items.


The VTi-S makes do with a breath­less four-cylin­der that has to work hard to pro­vide any mean­ing­ful ac­cel­er­a­tion. Power out­put is com­pa­ra­ble to the Holden at 104kW but torque is well down at 174Nm to the As­tra’s 240Nm. Peak torque and power both kick in high in the rev range and the con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion makes a bit of noise while try­ing to wring the most out of the en­gine. There’s no stop-start for sav­ing fuel in traf­fic and of­fi­cial con­sump­tion is 6.4 litres per 100km.


The Civic sedan hasn’t been crash tested in Europe or Aus­tralia, although the 2012 hatch­back scored five stars. Dis­ap­point­ingly, au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing is only avail­able on the more ex­pen­sive mod­els, along with other driver as­sist tech­nol­ogy. There is a lane watch­ing de­vice for the pas­sen­ger side only. Six airbags and re­vers­ing cam­era are stan­dard.


The Civic is a com­fort­able high­way cruiser, with the re­fine­ment and com­fort of a larger car. Around town it soaks up bumps and pot­holes with lit­tle fuss. Drive it more en­thu­si­as­ti­cally and it re­sponds to the chal­lenge. It’s no sports car but it’s pre­dictable and com­posed. The en­gine-trans­mis­sion com­bi­na­tion lets the side down a lit­tle though.

Holden has re­vived the As­tra name­plate. It meets an old spar­ring part­ner in the form of the Honda Civic. Richard Black­burn ad­ju­di­cates.

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