Test Drive: Honda Civic RS Turbo Modulo Sport

The Honda Civic RS Turbo has been named 2016 Car of the Year by both the Car Awards Group Inc. (CAGI) and Top Gear Philippines—prestigious awards that seem to indicate that this 10th generation Civic has once again recaptured the hearts and minds of the motoring public, including mine.

Design: 4.5/5

Even before you take the wheel, this Civic’s coupe-like silhouette, high gloss black grille, chrome door handles and window trim, LED lights, and wing-type spoiler already recall the excitement of earlier generation Civics, which had an almost cult following among local motorsports enthusiasts. Add to that the genuine Modulo body kit—front, side, rear under spoilers, and dual exhaust pipe finishers—plus 17-inch matte black alloy wheels, side step garnish, and Modulo emblem for the Modulo Sport variant we tested, and you have a piece of metal that makes a bold statement on the road.
With the smart proximity key, unlock the car by just pulling on the door handles, and step inside into a luxurious cabin with leather seats and trim, and find your ideal driving position on the 8-way power adjustable driver seat.

 

The one thing about Honda cars is the careful thought the designers put into ergonomics, ensuring that essential controls are all within arm’s reach of the driver, so you never have to stretch for a button or switch. I particularly liked the placement of the 7-inch display of the infotainment system in the center of the dashboard with easy touch controls, and angled for excellent visibility without the disturbing reflections that plague the large screen displays of other brands.

Another thoughtful addition is the device tray on the center console in front of the USB/HDMI/power ports. It is advisable to plug in your cords before driving off, as you won’t be able to do this on the fly.

If there’s one thing I take issue with, it’s the departure from the flat rear floor that’s virtually a Honda trademark, and the too low position of the front and rear passenger seats. While still quite roomy with lots of leg room, taller passengers would likely sit with their knees hunched up.
From this position, getting in and out of the car is also quite challenging.

Hardware: 4.5/5

Honda’s prowess in engine technology lives on in the Civic RS Turbo, with its 1.5-liter DOHC VTEC Turbo engine delivering an outstanding power output of 173 ps at 5500 rpm, and maximum torque of 220 Nm at 1700-5500 rpm. Matched with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), it earned a 27.56 km/L fuel efficiency rating from the Department of Energy (DOE). Of course, these numbers only reaffirm Honda’s successful application of its Earth Dreams Technology in achieving both high performance and fuel efficiency.

The Civic chassis features front MacPherson strut with stabilizer and rear independent multi-link suspensions; front ventilated and rear solid disc brakes; and rack and pinion steering. In addition to the standard driver and passenger side SRS airbags, the RS Turbo variants also have side airbags as well as side curtain airbags. Other safety specifications consist of anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability assist, hill start assist, ISOFIX, and immobilizer.

Exclusive to the RS Turbo are paddle shifters, a navigation system, dual zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, rain sensing wipers, turbo meter, oil monitor, and red ambient lighting.

User Experience: 4.5/5

The Civic’s turbo engine has a signature growl when it gets into the zone, and it should be music to the ears of all the speed freaks out there. Combine all that power on tap with excellent chassis design and you have a performance vehicle that delivers that incomparable rush when you’re attacking the straights and the twisties, confident in its speed, balance, and agility.

Of course, the engine is the star of the Civic RS Turbo line, but for me, the wind beneath its wings is the chassis, which Honda describes as the most sophisticated in model history. I believe Honda should highlight the fact that the Civic’s suspension bushings are fluid-filled, thus isolating road vibration while retaining precision handling and road feel. This current generation Civic is probably the most comfortable ride I’ve experienced, especially when traversing the uneven, patchwork surfaces of most metro streets.

I also love the convenience of ABH (automatic brake hold): step on the brake pedal firmly and the brakes stay engaged even when you lift your foot off; step on the accelerator and the car moves forward. This is such a boon when you’re sitting through two to three hours of traffic.

The full-featured infotainment system also integrates navigation on the RS Turbo variant. However, since it does not have traffic data, I think you will still need your smartphone so Waze can help you find the fastest route to your destination.

Value: 4/5

The top tier Civic RS Turbo Modulo Sport is priced at a rather steep Php 1,510,000, but I bet there are a bunch of die-hard Civic fans who won’t care about the price tag just to enjoy the adrenaline rush. After all, they can always justify the extra cash-out for the original Modulo accessories as more cost-effective than getting the add-ons piecemeal.

It also doesn’t hurt that this latest model, like earlier iconic Civics—e.g., the EG/EK hatchbacks and the Si-R—is expected to command top-dollar in resale value.

What’s Hot:

  • The turbo engine growls!
  • Probably the most comfortable ride in a sedan
  • Fully-loaded

What’s Not:

  • Quite pricey
  • Seats are too low, making ingress/egress quite challenging

Bottomline:

It has earned 2016 Car of the Year titles here and abroad—need I say more?

 

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE December 2016-January 2017 issue

Words and Photos by Maribelle Alba

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