Review: Honda Civic e:HEV RS, the best EVer?

Honda Civic e:HEV RS

Tester’s note: half a star off for the posterior cosseting

Where Malaysia Price RM166,500 (OTR, excl. insurance ) On sale now Engine 4-cyl, 1993cc, petrol Power 181bhp Torque 315Nm Gearbox eCVT Kerb weight 1445kg Top speed 180km/h  0-100km/h NA Fuel economy 25km/L (claimed) CO2 NA Rivals NA

What is it?

The Honda Civic e:HEV RS is a C-segment saloon. It is the top of the Civic model range for power, features and price. It is a petrol-electric hybrid: a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine paired with a motor which produces a 181bhp and 315Nm output. However, it would be more accurate to describe the Civic e:HEV RS as an electric car with an on-board petrol-driven generator. The Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system that powers the Civic e:HEV RS makes it a cable-less electric car. It has all the benefits of electric motoring, without the multiple inconveniences associated with electric motoring.

Read about the other Honda e:HEV RS hybrids, the Honda City Hatchback e:HEV RS and the Honda HR-V e:HEV RS.

There is also the Honda Civic RS, a petrol-only variant with a turbocharged 1.5-litre engine which produces 180bhp and 240Nm of torque. The e:HEV RS is distinguished from the petrol RS by the blue-framed Honda badge front and back, e:HEV badge on the rear, two-tone 18-inch rims and chrome highlights on the front grille and window frames.

This is the 11th generation of the Honda Civic. The Honda Civic nameplate is Honda’s best-selling model globally with 30 million Civics sold worldwide since 1973.

What is it like?

In short, powerful and elegant. The Civic e:HEV RS has the most powerful version of the i-MMD system. It has the same 1.1kW lithium-ion battery as the HR-V e:HEV RS but the 2.0-litre engine recharges the battery faster so it is propelled by the motor almost all the time. This makes the Civc incredibly quiet with very smooth acceleration. The car does run solely on petrol at cruising speeds on the highway when a motor actually hampers fuel efficiency but returns to electric power when there is demand for more power. There is low-level noise from the tyres at highway speeds but it was not intrusive.

This is probably the most athletic-looking Civic in 11 generations. The body is long and low and in black, with narrow LED headlights, overhanging bonnet and dropped-down grille, delightfully menacing. The fastback-style body is sleek with less origami-esque folds and creases than the 10th generation car.

The dashboard was an immediate “wow” when we got in. The retro-modern style is one of the most novel we’ve seen in a long time. Honeycomb mesh and glossy piano black finish are not new ideas but execution of the combination is. A silver-framed metal honeycomb mesh runs horizontally across the length of the dashboard, an unbroken length of honeycomb mesh that conceals the air-con vent slats but does not obstruct airflow. It creates a flat, continual surface that draws the eye across the width of the dashboard. The honeycomb pattern is elegant, a textural contrast to the glossy black frame around it. The vent angle adjusters are matte silver toggles. The styling cues are derived from the Honda e retro-style compact electric car that Honda only sells in Japan and Europe.

The black combination leather seats have red stitching and tiny perforations inlaid with red. The dashes of red are just enough to break the monotony of black without become overwhelming.

The handling matches the athletic appearance with firm suspension and body stiffness that makes the car very agile. It’s also very comfortable to handle at higher speeds.

Should I get one?

This is the best of electric motoring. On top of that, we think it’s really good value and here’s why: the range from one full tank and the incredible spaciousness.

The Honda Civic e:HEV RS range from one full tank (47 litres) is over 1100km, based on the claimed consumption of 25km/L. (There are drivers who have achieved even more kilometres to the litre but we wouldn’t recommend driving behind them). There aren’t any battery electric vehicles in the market with over 1000km range from a full charge at any price at time of review. All the plug-in BEVs under RM200k give less than 500km to a full charge. The Civic e:HEV RS i-MMD system offers the most convenient form of electric driving.

Another bonus are the unlimited mileage warranties – five years for the mechanicals and eight years for the hybrid battery. Most EV warranties have mileage caps.

And finally, the Civic e:HEV has features and legroom and boot volume to rival a D-segment saloon, at a C-segment price.

We truly never expected to like the Honda Civic e:HEV RS as much as we do.