In the Philippines, there are things that have remained true for the past two decades: Kamikazee rocks, public transportation’s bad, and the Honda Civic is as popular as Jollibee. For its tenth generation, the Civic comes with two options: either you go for the RS Turbo or the naturally-aspirated middle E and entry-level S variants.
Now, here’s the thing. The Civic 1.8 E is almost half-a-million cheaper than the range-topping red-badged RS Turbo – quite huge for a compact sedan, I must say. But does that make the middle child a lot less desirable compared to the star of the family? There’s only one way to find out.
Here’s my full review of the slightly facelifted 2019 Honda Civic 1.8.
This year, Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. gave the well-loved Civic a much-needed facelift. The changes aren’t astronomic, however, as only the fog lamp housing and the 16-inch Shark Gray Metallic alloys are updated in the 2019 model. The 1.8 E gets even more chrome for this model year, accentuating the revamped fog lamp housings.
As I’ve said, the changes aren’t phenomenal but take note that you’re looking at the sharpest Civic generation ever conceived. So, yes, the wide stance remains, as well as the full-LED affair and chromed parts for the non-turbo variants. I’m not sure of the latter, though, since I’m not really a fan of shiny chromes. But if that’s your thing, you do you.
Honda gave the 2019 Civic an update inside, too. It now has a higher dashboard, but the difference wasn’t too obvious. While the RS variant gets sporty red accents in the cabin, the 1.8 E has a tamer combination of dark gray and black polyurethane and soft plastics. Sadly, a hefty amount of piano black plastics remain on key touchpoints, so as we always say, be careful with those.
Probably the best thing about the Honda Civic is its driving position. Even with the fabric-clad seats and manual adjustment, the seat height is low even at its highest setting, plus the tilt and telescopic adjustments provide more seating posture options. The wide center console also doesn’t hamper the cockpit and front passenger room, while controls are easy to familiarize with.
At the rear, the Civic’s semi-bucket seats are heaven-sent for two passengers but a curse to the third one sitting in the middle. Wiggle- and head-room are good for two, as well, so long as everyone’s on track with their diet plan. As for toys, nothing of sort are found in the back aside from the foldable center armrest and huge door pockets. Lastly, trunk space is generous plus the rear backrests can fold flat for flexibility.
As expected, with the higher tire profile, the Civic 1.8’s ride comfort is a tad better than its RS Turbo counterpart. It’s flexible enough to tackle both behaved and dilapidated roads, but with less sturdiness when attacking corners at speeds. Nevertheless, the great NVH insulation’s the same in both variants.
You might think that as a mid-variant, the Civic 1.8 E’s set of tech features will be relegated to just bare essentials, but it isn’t. In fact, it’s almost as feature-packed as the RS Turbo, save for the dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and ambient lighting that aren’t found in the mid variant.
So aside from the segment basics like speed-sensing door locks, auto up/down windows, and automatic headlights, you also get a fully-digital instrument cluster, electronic parking brake with brake hold, and a 7-inch infotainment system with Apple Carplay/Android Auto. The 6-speaker system sounds okay, but can still be better.
Just like its tech toys, guess we could say the mid-level Civic also gets a full set of safety equipment found in the range-topper, but with two fewer side airbags.
The Civic 1.8E has two dual SRS airbags up front and ABS with EBD as its staple safety equipment, but it also comes with a keyless entry system, ISOFIX child seat tethers, hill start assist, stability assist, and seatbelt reminders for the front occupants. Security, on the other hand, is taken care of by immobilizer, security alarm, and a walk-away automatic lock.
Driving & Handling
Here’s where the big difference lies. The mid-variant Civic utilizes a 1.8-Liter i-VTEC gasoline engine for propulsion, sent to the front wheels via a CVT. This combination is good for practicality and daily car needs, but it’s a bit short in terms of straight-line performance and getting up to certain speeds.
Light taps on the accelerator weren’t recognized easily, as with other CVTs, so you’ll have to apply more input in order to get a more satisfying pull. That made me wish that paddle shifters were present but sadly, they’re not. Don’t get me wrong – 139 horsepower and 174 Nm torque are by no means short in this segment, but compared to the RS Turbo, you’ll feel the heft of the price difference. It’s still fast at some point, mind you, but it’s not that fast.
While smoking out other cars wasn’t the Civic 1.8’s best suit, maneuverability was its greatest talent. It’s visually wide for a compact car, but it didn’t feel so while driving, thanks to the generous driving visibility and bulges on the hood. Driver feedback wasn’t that tight, though, and I sometimes felt like the steering feel was getting the best of me. High-speed runs, however, was steady and composed, which makes the Civic a solid long-distance cruiser.
With the absence of turbo – and the absence of early onset of max torque – the Civic 1.8 returned pretty decent numbers in terms of fuel efficiency. An hour on heavy traffic returned 7.3 km/L (8.9 km/L when in ECON mode). Faster drives at around 60 km/h registered 13.1 km/L while 30 minutes on the highway with the cruise control set at 90 km/h gave back 18.1 km/L.
Again, pretty decent figures for a 1.8L engine.
With all things considered, relegating to the mid-1.8L variant isn’t going to be a hard decision for Civic buyers out there. You’ll almost get the same niceties in the range-topper as it is in the mid-variant, including the full-LED arsenal which is becoming a standard these days. Save for the less engaging on-road performance and chrome touch-ups, I see the 1.8 E variant as a bang-for-the-buck choice, especially with its P1,185,000 price tag.
I’m ending this review by raising my glass to all the middle child out there. You aren’t always the black sheep of the family and the Civic 1.8E mid-variant is with you on this one.