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First drive: Honda Civic Sport Line. Image by Honda UK.

First drive: Honda Civic Sport Line
Much of the sporty appearance of a Honda Civic Type R but with much reduced running costs – that’s the new Civic Sport Line.


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Honda Civic 1.0 EX Sport Line

4 4 4 4 4

Honda treats its facelifted 2019MY Civic Mk10 to a new sporty-looking model, designed to offer some of the Type R's petrolhead appeal, only at a lower price and with lower running costs. What's it like?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Honda Civic 1.0 VTEC Turbo EX Sport Line manual
Pricing: Civic range from £19,705, EX Sport Line from £25,510, car as tested £26,035
Engine: 1.0-litre VTEC turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 128g/km (VED Band 111-130: £170 first 12 months, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 42.2mpg
Top speed: 126mph
0-62mph: 11.2 seconds
Power: 126hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 200Nm at 2,250rpm
Boot space: 478-1,267 litres

What's this?

The Honda Civic 1.0 VTEC Turbo EX Sport Line manual, to give it its full name. It's a new model which fits into the Civic hierarchy right near the top, the EX bit signifying 'MAXIMUM SPECIFICATION!' and the Sport Line section being the key point to note. Powered by the 1.0-litre three-cylinder VTEC Turbo petrol engine (rated at 126hp and 200Nm with the six-speed manual gearbox, or same power and 180Nm as a CVT auto), it's one of those 'looks sporty but isn't' kind of cars which find favour with all sorts of manufacturers. And customers, more to the point.

It builds on the updated 2019MY Civic details, which include revised LED headlights, a redesigned upper main grille in the nose, reshaped lower grille sections at the front and rear, 17-inch 'Shark Grey' lightweight alloys, a new interior panel design and addition controls/buttons for the infotainment and climate. You have a volume dial now, for instance, while Apple CarPlay/Android Auto can bypass the Honda proprietorial infotainment if you still don't like it (and it remains a bit clunky with some cluttered home-screen graphics). What the Sport Line brings in is an exterior body kit and styling, defined by side skirts, a chin spoiler, a rear diffuser and then another spoiler perched atop the boot, this last item being the biggest single giveaway to the Sport Line spec. It also gains its own design of 17-inch wheels in gloss black, while the interior is enlivened by red stitching, drilled aluminium pedals, and sportier finishes for both the dash-trim inserts and the seats' upholstery.

How does it drive?

In and among a bulging spec list that includes heated seats in the rear as well as the front, a Qi wireless smartphone charging pad and loads of Honda Sensing driver assist safety technologies, the main reason the EX Sport Line commands a £1,000 premium over the EX model next down the Civic spec tree - aside from its exterior and interior styling additions - is the standard fitment of two-stage switchable dampers. They're either 'Off', and therefore in their comfort-oriented setting, or 'On', and providing a somewhat tougher ride and improved body control.

It's a slightly too tough ride, if we're honest, as the Civic loses its otherwise smooth and pleasing comportment with the dampers engaged. Also, the Sport Line seemed to have more road roar permeating the cabin than in other tenth-gen Civics we've tried over the recent years, so maybe the sporty wheels-and-tyres don't suit the regular Honda hatchback as well as they do the monstrous Type R. Furthermore, avoid the CVT: it's not a bad Continuously Variable Transmission by any stretch of the imagination, but it does sap what little pep the 1.0-litre turbocharged triple can serve up to make the Sport Line feel anything but sporty.

Not that the manual is quick, either, but there's a little more pleasure to rowing that super-sweet six-speed 'box through the gate to elicit pace from the three-cylinder motor, which engages the driver slightly more in the experience this Civic serves up. Obviously, with such modest outputs in play, you can bog the Sport Line down in a torque hole if you're not careful, but otherwise it plays the usual three-pot raspy tune and feels pretty decent to drive. Mainly because it has light and accurate steering, all the body control and poise of any tenth-gen Civic, well-modulated brakes, that aforementioned manual transmission and a sort of shot-through feeling of quality engineering that's most welcome in this class. True, the bisection of the rear windscreen and the addition of that boot spoiler both somewhat limit rear visibility, but in all other regards the EX Sport Line is as decent to steer as its stablemates. If not actually appreciably any sportier to drive, mind...


The Civic EX Sport Line is an understandable addition to the Honda hatchback's line-up and it's executed well, as you'd expect of this company. However, it's possibly a bit rich at knocking on for 26 grand for a 126hp C-segment five-door that has, no matter how tenuous they may be, links to the phenomenal CTR, and we can't help wondering why Honda didn't go with the 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo as the engine for this car instead. Still, if you want a sporty-looking Civic with an abundant kit list and good day-to-day manners, provided you avoid the CVT and leave the dampers set to 'Off' on this Sport Line, then you should get on famously with it.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 10 Dec 2019    - Honda road tests
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- Civic images

2020 Honda Civic EX Sport Line 1.0 manual. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda Civic EX Sport Line 1.0 manual. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda Civic EX Sport Line 1.0 manual. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda Civic EX Sport Line 1.0 manual. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda Civic EX Sport Line 1.0 manual. Image by Honda UK.

2020 Honda Civic EX Sport Line 1.0 manual. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda Civic EX Sport Line 1.0 manual. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda Civic EX Sport Line 1.0 manual. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda Civic EX Sport Line 1.0 manual. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda Civic EX Sport Line 1.0 manual. Image by Honda UK.


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