Published on December 10th, 2023 | by Subhash Nair0
2022 Honda Civic RS e:HEV Review For Malaysian Buyers
The Honda Civic RS e:HEV with the 2.0L and upgraded equipment is an unrivaled package.
Our Hybrid of the Year for VOTY 2023 was the Honda Civic RS e:HEV, a car that no rival brand has managed to come up against since its introduction here in October 2022.
We didn’t have time to complete our full review of the car back then and used our test notes solely for VOTY evaluation.
Having revisited the 2.0L e:HEV powertrain in the 6th gen CR-V on our recent trip to Thailand, we were brought back to the hybrid version of the Civic. Before 2023 comes to a close, we thought we’d revisit it with a brief review.
A Hybrid That’s Faster Than The Turbo
The 11th generation Honda Civic with its 1.5L turbocharged engine was already one of the best driver’s cars on the market for its price. Even without the 2.0L e:HEV powertrain, the turbo model is punchy enough and more than capable of delivering grin-inducing performance.
Many would assume the hybrid model was introduced solely for its fuel-saving capabilities. After all, previous editions of the Civic Hybrid have all been less powerful and more efficiency focused than their ICE counterparts.
That’s not the case with the e:HEV and it’s not unprecedented for Honda to take this approach, having marketed “Sport Hybrid” compacts in the past. The fact that the e:HEV models are available solely in “RS” grade shows that Honda Malaysia are highlighting the dynamic capabilities.
In fact, the e:HEV model manages to exceed what the turbo can offer to those looking for all-out performance. 0-100km/h takes just 7.9 seconds here, where it takes the turbo models between 8.3 and 8.5 seconds depending on rim size. It’s a pretty tiny difference on paper but the immediacy of torque makes for a perceptible difference.
Smoother than the 1.5L e:HEV & Still Efficient
What’s more, the larger 2.0L Atkinson cycle engine here is smoother to start than the 1.5L in the City and HR-V e:HEV models. The transition between ICE and EV is barely perceptible here. It feels like this was the engineering target for the e:HEV and they just can’t match the refinement with the smaller motor.
Pair this to the fact that it sips just 4.0L/100km and what you have is a powertrain that ticks more boxes than the turbo. The version of this that powers the City has a rating of 3.6L/100km, but given how much smoother and how much more powerful the 2.0L version is, this is a very fair trade-off. 4L/100km is still extremely low and it still follows the commonsense approach of letting the electric motors do the stop-and-go driving while the petrol motor does the cruising – combining outputs both to handle heavy acceleration.
Meaningful Upgrades Over The RS Turbo
It’s not just an upgrade to the powertrain that you get here. This hybrid model comes with a number of equipment changes to. The Deceleration Selector feature is the biggest influence on the driving character of the car. It allows the user to increase or decrease brake regeneration through the paddle shifters.
I don’t think it’s a direct analogue to shifting through virtual ratios with a CVT, but it does give the driver an optional layer of engagement, which is rare in any hybrid. If you anticipate a corner coming up, increasing the brake regen with a couple of pulls of the left paddle can let you decrease speed without moving your foot to the brake pedal. Overall occupant comfort is improved as well thanks to Active Noise and Sound Control on the e:HEV model. It’s not quite noise cancellation, but it quietens the cabin somewhat.
There are a couple of other feature additions worth talking about too. There’s now an exclusive slim Key Card, perfect for those who prefer not to carry a hefty keyfob around when they go for a run or to exercise.
The Civic RS e:HEV also comes with a wireless charging pad, which is extremely handy here since there’s wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. On the petrol models, this wireless charging pad is missing, leading to an absurd situation if you forget to bring the right cable. What I mean is on the Civic Turbo, you could happily navigate with wireless Apple Carplay for 3 hours only to find that you don’t have a way to charge your now completely depleted phone. Not the case on the hybrid.
There’s also the dual auto air conditioning unit which is nice to have, but really not the most important or impressive addition here. What IS impressive is the new 10.2” digital instrument cluster. This thing shows how far ahead Honda is versus its Japanese peers. You can minimize the display to just show a couple of dials and no clutter, which I personally prefer. But if you can also switch active cruise control on and have a virtual view of what Honda Sensing is… sensing.
In this mode, you get a little avatar of the Civic with little lights that simulate what your actual car is doing and what vehicles it detects around it. Press the brakes, the little brake lights on your little virtual Civic light up. Same thing with the turn signals. Plus, it’s rendered like a pre-textured 3D model, which is a smart art direction. This allows them to get away with an uncoloured 3D model of the Civic that works with any body colour.
Premium brands and modern Chinese brands have versions of this, but I believe Honda’s the first Japanese mass market brand to get it right.
Who Should Buy The Civic e:HEV
While the Civic Turbo of this generation was a great simulation of a sports sedan, this version feels like it’s completely its own thing and marginally better at both the fun and mundane stuff a sedan is supposed to do.
Many Malaysians are thinking if the right time to buy an EV is now, but aren’t confident if the lifestyle change is for them. For those Malaysians, the Civic RS e:HEV is probably the right choice – particularly if they’re after something low slung and dynamic. Those looking for a more practical vehicle should wait for the new CR-V e:HEV.
2022 Honda Civic RS e:HEV
Engine: 4 Cylinder, 16 Valve, DOHC (Atkinson Cycle)
Max power (petrol): 143PS @ 6000rpm
Max power (electric): 184PS @ 5000-6000rpm
Max torque (petrol): 189Nm @ 4500rpm
Max torque (electric): 315Nm @ 0-2000rpm
Top Speed: 180 km/h
0-100 km/h: 7.9 seconds
Price: RM167,900.00 (retail price without insurance)