The price gap separating the 1.8 and 2.0-litre variants of the Honda Civic is RM16,000, which is a lot of money even if some might argue that the ringgit is a depreciating commodity these days. Of course, it goes without saying that a reduced price tag brings about reduced equipment, but the question we inevitably seek to answer is whether the money saved is worth the specs sheet deficit that comes with it.
First, let’s look at power. The 1.8-litre engine carried over from the eighth-generation Civic FD hails from the same R engine family as its 2.0-litre counterpart featuring 16 valves, a single camshaft, and i-VTEC technology. With engine displacement down by 199cc, the Civic 1.8 makes do with 139hp @ 6,500rpm and 174Nm @ 4,300rpm, which comes up to a 14hp and 16Nm deficit against the 2.0-litre model – acceptable for a RM16k saving.
The numbers suggest that any differences between the 1.8 and 2.0-litre variants would be minimal, and that indeed is the reality. Although the 2.0 will certainly prevail when in pedal-to-metal situations, the 1.8 hardly ever felt underpowered during our test runs, and it possesses almost the same dynamic competence as the 2.0. We say almost because Honda’s tyre selection sees the 2.0 getting grippier Michelin PS3 compared to the 1.8’s Goodyear NCT5. We recommend getting stickier rubber on your first tyre change.
The Civic’s improved ride quality over its predecessor with no noticeable loss in handling prowess is worth highlighting once again, and this is despite Honda going from double wishbones to multi-links for the rear suspension setup. Where the predecessor can be uncomfortably stiff at times, the current model handles poor surfaces with far greater composure, and this is especially true of our 1.8 test car which higher profile tyres than the 2.0.
|Rims are an inch smaller than the 2.0 at 17.|
As far as the driving experience is concerned, the Civic 1.8 loses little to its 2.0-litre sibling and we reckon most users will find it adequate for their needs. This writer is certainly satisfied with the way it drives, but the same unfortunately cannot be said of its kit count. While it would have been naive to expect the full complement of bells and whistles in an entry-level variant, a number of absentees paint the Civic in a very poor light relative to its rivals
Considering relative the price differential against the 2.0, it was actually not unreasonable for Honda to remove items such as auto-leveling HID headlamps, side mirror-mounted indicators, cruise control, power-adjusting driver seat, leather trim, and paddle shifters, although we would much rather not do without side airbags, Bluetooth integration, and keyless entry. We would also wish for the 2.0’s Navi unit and reverse camera to offered at least as a cost option here in the 1.8 as well. To be fair to Honda, however, the presence of VSA in the standard kit count is appreciated and deserving of praise.
|VSA is standard. Praiseworthy.|
The Civic 1.8’s equipment levels are actually reasonable when you keep the RM16,000 savings relative to the 2.0 in mind, but its case weakens considerably once the comparably-priced Ford Focus Titanium (RM115,888) and Hyundai Elantra 1.8 (RM114,888) are thrown into the arena. Both the Focus and Elantra have equipment lists that are miles longer, and whilst it is true that the Civic is subjectively better to drive than the Elantra, the Focus is a sterner test as it doubles down on the Civic with a more powerful 2.0-litre engine and class-leading dynamics.
As tested, the 1.8 is most certainly not the pick of the Civic line-up, but this has less to do with its road manners and more to its specification level. Next to the Focus and Elantra especially, the 1.8’s asking price of RM115,980 suddenly seems steep, even if it is the most affordable variant of the Civic range. The car drives well enough, and if you are not fussy about having the fancy gizmos and gadgets on board, this would in fact be all the Civic you need. The question to Honda, however, is why the option of a higher-specced Civic 1.8 is no longer offered?