Review: 2021 Honda Civic RS Turbo

Review: 2021 Honda Civic RS Turbo

Updated on April 18 2024

Time flies, doesn't it? 2016 was five years ago, yet the tenth-generation Honda Civic still looks pretty fresh. The outgoing model raised the bar in the compact sedan market, and it remains a bench in its segment. But the compact sedan class is very competitive, so it was time for an upgrade. A few months ago, Honda Cars Philippines launched the all-new Civic, and there are high expectations.

But we won't be able to drive the new Civic until we have the chance to do so. For now, though, we're here to tell you why the tenth-generation Civic is a good buy in the used market.

What we have here is the top of the line 1.5 RS Turbo model. When it came out all those years ago, it was revolutionary in terms of design and performance. For starters, it was the first car in its class to offer turbo power standard in top-spec form. It also ushered in a more aggressive design language from Honda. Even if you park it beside newer cars, the previous Civic still won't look too outdated. If anything, the older look's “angrier” look is a start contrast to the new model's more mature exterior.

It doesn't look its age on the outside, but what about the interior? To be honest, there are some parts that hold up well even to this day, while there are some that are starting to feel dated. The thing that still feels new is the design of the dashboard. It has a sweeping design that is still relevant to this day. Another thing that looks good is the digital instrument cluster. At the time it was launched, it was revolutionary as most competitors at the time still used analog dials. It could be said the Civic kicked off a trend in that segment.

Space inside is good too, with more than enough room at the front. The back seats are good too, with more than enough legroom for taller people. However, the coupe-like roof means headroom is cut a little short. As for the trunk, it's one of the largest in its class.

As for the things that feel a little dated, that would be the infotainment touchscreen. On the good side, it's fast and responsive. However, there are too many menus and sub-menus that might take a while to learn. It's best to tour the system first so you can get used to it. Newer touchscreens from Honda are said to be much simpler to use.

For this generation, the RS is the only one to come with a turbo engine. It's a 1.5-liter unit with 173 PS and 220 Nm of torque. It's then paired with a continuously variable transmission or CVT. If you reckon you don't need that much power, there's also the 1.8-liter, non-turbo engine with 140 horsepower and and 174 Nm of torque in the S and E variants. A manual transmission is not available for the Civic.

So, how does it drive? To be honest, the 1.8-liter is good enough for the daily drive. Of course, a little more horsepower never harmed anyone. With the CVT, the power response is decent despite what the pessimists say. It becomes even more responsive when you take the car off Eco mode. And if you still want it to feel more immediate, stick the gear lever in sport and manually control the paddle shifters. Of course, there will be a penalty in fuel economy if you do that.

Speaking of fuel consumption, how does it fare? If driven sensibly, the Civic RS Turbo can easily return about 8.5 to 10 kilometers per liter around the city. In long-distance cruising, that shoots up to over 15 kilometers per liter. All in all, the Civic RS Turbo is a good balance between performance and economy. So for those who want something a little bit spicy but don't want to stop at every gas station, this sedan is worth checking out.

But a car isn't judged on performance or economy alone. Cars in this class have to be well rounded. It has to be comfortable, easy to drive, offer safe and secure handling, and easy to live with. In terms of comfort, the ride is on the firm side because of its 18-inch alloy wheels. Mind you, you will feel the bumps but the seats do a decent job of absorbing the hits for you. The suspension tuning of this car is also sportier so if you want a softer ride, you will have to go for the lower-spec models. We're not saying it's uncomfortable, but it's something to think about especially if you live in an area with less than ideal roads.

What about handling and ease of driving? The Civic RS Turbo uses an electronic power steering. Those systems typically give very little feedback that scores low on driving fun. But in all fairness, Honda got it right for the Civic. It's light enough for easy maneuvering, and it has enough weight for the driver to enjoy the corners. Yes, there are some cars that feel sharper when you turn them, but the Civic ranks pretty high. Handling-wise, it has excellent roadholding that gives the driver more confidence along winding roads. Don't get too carried away, though.

All in all, the Civic RS Turbo is easy to live with. Yes, the ride is a little firm but it offers great performance in its class, it gets good gas mileage, and it's even relatively fun to drive. If you're considering this as a family car, you have the ASEAN NCAP's seal of approval with its five-star safety rating.

It's not perfect, but no car is. If you can live with a few trade-offs, then the RS Turbo should be on your list. They're good used car deals too. The RS Turbo ranges from the PHP 800,000 range, all the way to a little over a million pesos. For that, you get a turbocharged sedan that's safe and practical for the family.

Interested? You can check out our stocks of used Civic sedans or other second-hand Honda models at our website.