COMPETENT is a word used to describe someone, or something, that is able to meet its intended purpose to an acceptable standard, without being outstanding. With that in mind, the 2022 Honda Civic VTi LX can best be described in one word: competent.
The 11th generation hatch has arrived on our shores in a single variant – the VTi LX, with a Hybrid and the Type R iteration due later this year. From the outside, the new Civic is quite promising. A sporty yet elegant design, with sharp split-spoke 18-inch wheels.
There’s low profile rubber and a sweeping body profile that hint at a car that could be fun to drive. The interior aesthetics continue to pique your interest, with generously bolstered seats clad in leather and an Alcantara-esque fabric, with a large central display.
A unique honeycomb fascia on the vents completes the view when you enter the cabin. The optimism you felt is quickly undone however, once you struggle to aim the air from the dual-zone climate control because of said fascia, which obscures vision of the vents.
If you’re sitting in the back and are over 180cm tall, you now have the roof touching your head, making for an uncomfortable journey. The infotainment also offers promise, with AM/FM, DAB+ digital radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto.
The multiple attempts it takes to pair and unpair is a dance not everyone will enjoy, but once you can connect, Apple CarPlay performs perfectly, and the fact that the screen remains useable while driving is a useful feature.
The 12-speaker Bose stereo is adequate but does suffer from distortion, even without cranking the music all the way to 11. There is also wireless phone charging up front, with two USB ports and a 12-volt socket.
The VTi LX is powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged motor producing 134kW of power and 240Nm of torque, which is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
For the most part this combination works quite well around town. Despite this writer’s opinion of CVTs, this example does a fairly good job of hiding the fact it is working with a single gear and allows the ride to remain smooth and relaxed.
Honda claims economy figures of 6.3-litres/100km for a combined cycle, however our week with the Civic came out at 8.9-litres/100km, keeping in mind our driving was conducted on suburban and inner-city streets.
The engine note is dull, but never annoying, and Honda have done a fantastic job of minimising the amount of road noise that comes through to the cabin.
Coupled with suspension that provides a compliant ride on all bar the coarsest of surfaces, the Civic VTi LX is genuinely comfortable to drive, but that’s it. Those earlier thoughts of it being “fun” dissipate once you mash the throttle and hear the drone of the CVT.
The Civic never feels particularly lively nor do you get rewarded for pushing on in corners, but we’re not sure that matters. After all, not everyone wants a car that makes them feel as though they could have been a racing car driver.
Steering is light and thanks to fantastic visibility, the Civic is an extremely easy car to drive, especially around inner-city streets and in peak hour traffic. Front seats feature heating and electronic adjustment, although the passenger can’t change seat height.
We found that the centre console can dig into your leg on longer drives though, depending on how you like to sit. It made finding a comfortable driving position a bit trickier than expected.
Practicality wise, the Civic boasts 404-litres worth of boot thanks to its large hatch and there is an additional 45-litre underfloor space too. A storage bin and cup holders sit between the front occupants, as well as bottle holders in the doors.
The Civic is loaded with safety tech too, with the Honda Sensing suite of driver assist features, including adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking.
It all works to keep you on the road, as does traffic jam assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. There’s a reversing camera too, but confusingly, there are no reversing sensors present.
Available in four colours; Premium Crystal Red, as reviewed here, Premium Crystal Blue, Platinum White and Crystal Black, the new Civic comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with five low-cost services included when bought as a new car.
Priced at $47,200 drive away (fixed by the car maker), it’s pitched against the Volkswagen Golf TSI R-Line, Audi A3 Sportback and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. That same price bracket also houses the significantly sportier Hyundai i30 N, and cheaper Kia Cerato GT.
In their own ways, all of those cars have the Civic beat for power, luxury or practicality. Honda makes bold statements about the Civic’s intentions and abilities, and unfortunately, it just doesn’t live up to them.
Our 2022 Honda Civic VTi LX was supplied by Honda Australia. To find out more, contact your local Honda dealer.