I’m always that guy that will check the box for the “sport package”, even if it means sacrificing basic comfort. If there was a way to make the car cheaper by not painting it, so I could have enough money for the sport package, I’d be rolling around in a steel grey box with cloth seats and no air conditioning, just so I could have the bigger engine and a fancy differential. (disclaimer: I almost always regret my choices). After recently driving the Civic Si (reviewed here) which I quite liked, I was curious as to what the 2017 Honda Civic Sport Touring is like.
This model trades a bit of power and a limited slip differential for leather seats and more a luxurious interior. It’s the one that the more sensible person would likely buy, so I had a go in one for a week to see if I could knock some sense into myself. The Sport Touring hatchback with a manual transmission comes in at $29,590, in comparison to the Civic Si (which you can’t get in a hatchback) at $28,590. For a thousand dollars less you get a Civic with more power, and a limited-slip differential?
The Sport Touring gets leather seats, which are a significant step up from the cloth seats you would get in the Si. They are heated in the front and the back, again a step up over the EX-T trim below it. I found the seats to be very comfortable, and they really added to an interior which I was already a fan of. In fact, I had a difficult time finding any fault with the cabin. I love the way that the infotainment is integrated into the dash. The digital readout is crisp, easy to read and high quality, the steering wheel looks excellent and the materials are very good. I would however really prefer a physical volume knob. The touch button up and down volume is a huge issue for me. The Sport Touring also gets LED headlights and LED turn signal indicators which give the exterior a rather premium look. If you decide to choose the Sport Touring over the EX-T you get a 452-watt sound system (which you also get in the Si) and I was quite pleased with the sound quality and volume.
The reality is, save for a few features here and there, the most obvious difference in materials and features between the Sport Touring and the Si or EX-T are the leather seats. So let’s take a look at the drivetrain. In the EX-T the Sport Touring and the Si you get a turbocharged 1.5 L 4 cylinder. The only difference is, is that in the Sport Touring, the engine is detuned a bit to only make 180 horsepower and 180 lb-ft. of torque. If I’m honest, it felt rather sluggish after driving the Si. I don’t see a reason why it couldn’t have had a bit more punch. There is noticeable turbo lag, and most of the time I was left wishing for more response from the drivetrain. Draw your own conclusions.
My feelings on this carried over to the manual transmission. Honda shifters have historically been some of the best. In this case though, the shifter clicks into gear nicely, but it feels too light and it lacked solidity. There is play in gear and a fair amount of flex to the linkage. The clutch is a similar story; it’s too light and lacking distinctive feel. The final straw was the rev-hang. There is far too much time spent between gears waiting for the revs to fall far enough that you can catch the next gear without a jolt. Rev-matching on downshifts is equally frustrating, as the throttle response makes it difficult to rev the engine quickly. Conclusion? Get the CVT (reviewed here).
The chassis, however, is good, just like all of the other Civic models. Steering feel is impressive for an electric rack, and the car turns in without protest. It doesn’t rotate at the limit like the Si or Type R do, but it’s still a playful car. The lack of a front differential shows though. The chassis feels stiff, so under power in tight corners you will get noticeable inside wheel hop. The LSD in the Si eliminates this.
The Sport Touring, is indeed a very practical car, and a good commuter. It’s a very stress-free car to drive. The Lane Keep Assist works, and the adaptive cruise control does a good job of keeping you relaxed on highway commutes. I also do appreciate the addition of the blind spot camera (LaneWatch). Not that the Sport Touring has bad blind spots, but the camera adds another layer of certainty during lane changes.
The hatch is integrated very well in the visual proportions of the car. In fact, I think the whole car looks fantastic. It has a very aggressive front end, and some fearless styling in the rear. 17” wheels are a nice touch. There is ample space in the rear for things, and the heated rear seats will keep your passengers content on long journeys. The phone integration is great, as there is a USB cord pass-through from under the dash to keep things organized. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make things easy.
The reality is, is that most people won’t find any issue with the performance of the 2017 Honda Civic Sport Touring. It has everything you need and nothing excessive. Fuel economy is amazing as well; 6.9L/100km is what we managed in highway and city combined. Personally though, for what is essentially the same price, I would take the Civic Si. The performance difference is very noticeable; it feels sharper and more engaging. If you can get over the cloth seats in the Si and the fact that it can only be had as a sedan or coupe, it’s a much more fun car to use everyday. And if you feel like you need even more? Honda offers it. The Type R (reviewed here) is waiting at the top of the Civic food chain, to show you what a front wheel drive hatch is truly capable of.