Review: 2013 Honda Civic DTi-S Diesel Hatch

Journalists, by nature, are cynics.

So when Honda Australia declared its first ever diesel, fitted exclusively to the Civic hatch, is as refined and as quiet as its petrol offerings, I sniggered into my morning coffee.

Jump behind the wheel however, and you quickly realise Honda isn’t telling porkies.

The new 1.6-litre i-DTEC oiler is a gem, offering a satisfying blend of efficiency, performance and refinement.

The first engine to use Honda’s ‘Earth Dreams’ technology in Australia, the new turbo-charged oiler produces 88kW and 300Nm - not enough power to feel blisteringly quick, but more than adequate for daily driving.

Power delivery is linier, with maximum torque available from 2000rpm.

Combined fuel usage is claimed at 4.0-L/100km – we achieved just under 5.0L/100km on test - while C02 emissions are quoted as 105 grams per kilometre.

Drive it economically then, and the diesel Civic can achieve economy figures better than many hybrids - including Honda’s own hybrid Civic – and beat its small-car rivals save for Volkswagen’s Golf Bluemotion (3.8L/100km) and the Mini Cooper D Hardtop (3.8L/100km).

Thinner cylinder walls and lighter pistons and connection rods provide pleasing levels of refinement, with the new engine mated to a bespoke, lighter, six-speed manual.

No automatic option is available, a fact Honda admits could harm sales.

“Look obviously we’d sell more if we had an automatic available,” said Honda Australia Director Stephen Collins. “And we’re working on getting one. But for now, there’s just no automatic option available to us.”

Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloys, auto stop-start, Hill Start Assist, automatic headlights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, economy mode, reverse camera, daytime running lights, tyre pressure detection system and Honda’s ‘Magic Seat’ system.

Honda aims to sell a modest 50 diesel Civics a month, with the new model on sale now from $26,990.

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