Driven: 2017 Honda Civic Sport Plus Review
The Honda Civic has been around for decades and over the years, we have seen the car progress. We were recently invited to test the latest 10th generation model and it’s fair to say: it’s the best one yet. After trying out various engines, gearboxes and trim levels, we want to tell you about our favourite: the 1.5-litre, manual in Sport Plus trim.
What is the 2017 Honda Civic Sport Plus all about?
There is a long list of significant improvements to this new model, making a big impact for 2017. These changes include dimension increases, making the car 30mm wider, 20mm lower and 130mm longer than the previous generation. However, the most important thing about these changes are that this now means that the centre of gravity is closer to the ground, which is always a good thing.
The new car has been carefully developed to make it 16kg lighter and huge engineering developments have gone into making the vehicle stiffer, with regards to torsional stiffness.
We tested both the 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol engine with 129 PS and a 1.5-litre 4 cylinder petrol engine with 182 PS. Both serve fantastic needs of the market with the 1.0-litre being very capable and hugely efficient, however, the 1.5-litre has a great sporty edge and was the most attractive to me.
The 1.5-litre model we are testing here is the Sport Plus trim level, the Sport trim includes 17-inch alloys, front and rear parking sensors, rear parking camera, the Honda Connect 2 infotainment suite, dual zone air conditioning, LED headlamp clusters, twin centre exhaust outlets and a sports body kit that includes a chin spoiler, rear bumper spats and side garnishes. Sport Plus model adds power tilt panoramic sunroof and a wireless charging pad in the centre console.
The 1.5-litre engine creates 240 Nm of torque and puts the power to the front wheels, meaning that with a manual gearbox, it is able to get from 0-60mph in 8.3 seconds and will do a top speed of 136 MPH. This pokey engine is still able to return economy figures of 48.9 MPG, whilst creating only 133 g/KM.
How does it drive?
The 2017 Honda Civic Sport Plus supplies the sporty nimble driving experience that the enthusiasts were hoping from the car. It, of course, isn’t the Type R but don’t be fooled by thinking it isn’t a fun car either. Lots of research has gone into stiffening the body and designing highly advanced suspension technology to make this car handle very flat and with minimum body roll. The model we were testing was fitted with the dynamic suspension functionality with two modes, allowing you to optimise the car for your style of driving. One mode is optimised for comfort and the other for a dynamic feel. The results of these developments create a very solid and planted feel to the vehicle. When showing it a corner in dynamic mode, I was very impressed with how flat the car was able to travel around it, it encourages you to push it a little harder every time.
The steering rack on the car now houses a progressive turn mechanism, meaning that the more you turn the wheel, the deeper the car will turn progressively. This implies a race car like driving experience and when you find your dream road, it helps the car feel very friendly to drive, whilst being super responsive when turning in — all great characteristics of a sporty car.
Now let’s talk about the engine. It’s a little one with a tiny turbocharger. The small-diameter turbine allows the turbo to build pressure low down the rev range, making the car feel very responsive. Opening the vehicle up, the exhaust note in the Sport Plus model is a real treat to the ears and even whilst writing this, I am still overwhelmed with how well this car goes in a straight line.
That pokey engine is teamed up with a very slick feeling 6 speed gearbox. Taking the new model on a test around a selection of roads gave me a good feeling for the ratios and I loved how they worked in both the city and on the open road. It is a rare thing to get a sporty feeling gearbox in an affordable car, but Honda have hit the nail on the head in the 2017 Civic.
So when we sum up all of these components, the stiff body, sharp steering, responsive engine and slick gear shift; the 2017 Honda Civic Sport is certainly one active car that ticks a lot of boxes. To compliment the car even further when driven slowly, the feeling to the driver is still hugely calm, quiet and comfortable when you want it to be. This car is looking like a good all rounder.
What is it like inside?
The inside of the new 10th generation model is not hugely different from the outgoing one. However, when you take a closer look, there are plenty of small improvements that do build up to change the experience. One of my personal favourites is the inbuilt wireless (QI) charging system. It means that you can simply drop your phone in the holder and without cables, your phone will get charged up. Before you get excited, you need to make sure your phone is compatible first.
There is also a new 7-inch colour TFT screen which has lots of nice graphics and shows you the information you need. There are plenty of options on the screen to choose from. This includes navigation directions, SMS, emails and journey info, all making the Honda a very connected car. The inputs for the system can be made via the steering wheel. I would have liked a more premium feel to the switch gear, but it still works very well and doesn’t look out of place.
The 2017 Honda Civic is the most practical Civic to date; the car still has a large 478-litre boot with a wide opening. The 4 door variant is easy to jump in and out of. But the most significant change is that Honda have made the decision to remove the magic rear seats from the car. Instead, they have moved the petrol tank back to this place, which improves the passenger room and lowers the centre of gravity. Space all around the cabin is in abundance and every where you look there is somewhere to store your belongings.
The experience that the Honda Civic Sport provides is a tribute to the the brands heritage and commitments to advanced engineering. The car has lots of dynamic drive characteristics without being muted by the control of technology. The additional stiffness to the vehicle really makes it stand out from the rest in the corners and takes this everyday car from just going places to making your day.
Honda have performed an amazing execution on the 10th generation car and is certainly something that the brand can be proud of. The Civic in Sport Plus trim truly provides the dynamic drive that they promised, yet maintains the car’s comfort and practicality characteristics that we all love. If you are after an even hotter version of the Civic, then you can expect to see the Honda Civic Type R in summer 2017 and if economy is more your thing then certainly, you must consider the 1.0-litre model.
Honda Civic Sport Plus 2017
- Price: £26,730
- Engine: 1.5-Litre Petrol
- Power: 182 PS
- Torque: 240 Nm
- Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
- 0-62mph: 8.3 Seconds
- Top speed: 136 mph
- Weight: 1307 kg
- Economy combined: 48.9 mpg
- CO2: 133 g/km
Author: Paul Hadley
If you would like to learn more about the Honda Civic EP3 Type R take a look here.