Honda adds fifth element to RS turbo
Hatch completes Kiwi Civic range. We test the new RS Sport model. By
In these days of genre-bending design, the lines between tradition body shapes like sedan and hatchback can become quite blurred.
So what does a carmaker do when it’s created a sedan (an essential configuration for the big-volume American and Asian markets, by the way) with a fastback profile that could easily wear a fifth door with very little modification? If it’s Honda, it goes ahead and makes a different hatchback model anyway.
So in some respects the justlaunched Civic hatch is a bit of a head-scratcher, especially as it has 100 litres less bootspace than the four-door (414 litres versus 517). Why buy the five-door when there’s already a sleeker-looking, more cargo-capacious sedan in the showroom?
Two answers really. The first is that despite the shortfall in ‘‘boot’’ capacity, you still have the vastly superior overall loadspace of a hatch to draw upon when needed. The fifth door offers a large aperture and with the 60/40 split rear seats stowed there’s up to 1280 litres cargo-space in the Civic hatch. You can still load long items through into the rear of the sedan, but in terms of overall practicality it doesn’t compare.
That’s the rational answer. marginal volume potential in New Zealand. But it’d also be the making of this model from an enthusiast point of view. Remember that bit about the hatch wanting to be the sporty model?
The hatch might be 129mm shorter than the sedan, but it rides on the same long wheelbase and remains a genuinely family sized machine.
The cabin serves up impressive quality and distinctive design, including heavy reliance on digital displays. But between the virtual speedometer and centre-console touch screen, there seems to be an insistence that being hi-tech means things have to be complicated.
It’s all here, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the menus on the touch-screen are pretty murky and simple things like tuning the radio might require a contemplative moment until you’re really familiar with the layout.
The RS hatch comes with safety equipment like Straight Driving Assist and the clever LaneWatch system, which shows a camera-view of the left-hand side of the car when you indicate that way.
But there’s no equivalent in the five-door range to the flagship NT sedan, which means you can’t have a hatch with adaptive cruise, lane-keep assist, collision warning/mitigation braking and lane-departure warning.
New hatch is shorter and taller than sedan. Same black ‘‘mask’’ on RS model, but more comprehensive body kit.