The executive saloon class has historically always been a very tough segment to be noticed in what with the likes of the popular Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, Renault Megane and Toyota Corolla in the mix — but does the Honda Civic have enough in the tank to stay ahead of the game? Well it sure looks like it does especially in the RS guise as seen here, which had a minor update earlier this year.

It stands out thanks to that shiny black grille, updated front bumper, 18in RS Design Black alloys and a wing-type spoiler at the back all of which give it a sporty and aggressive edge. This 10th generation model still looks pretty fresh (Honda Motor Co. Africa and Middle East has announced the start of sales of the upgraded 2020 Civic 1.6-litre which receives new front and rear styling, a power sunroof,  rear AC vents, rear camera, new 17in alloys on the LX Sport and  remote engine starter) and the sportiness of its exterior transcends into the interior too due — the checkered accents on the leather seats replete with red stitching is a nice touch. They’re nicely bolstered too and hold you in place well when you drive spiritedly and with their low seating position, the engaging feeling behind the wheel is elevated a tad.

 

Photos: Stefan Lindeque

The dashboard got a minor update this year too and features a revised Apple CarPlay/Android Auto-capable 7.0in touchscreen infotainment which gets tactile knobs and buttons for easier operation while the USB, 12V, and HDMI ports are still hidden under the centre tunnel which helps give the cabin an uncluttered look and feel. It still knows how to afford passengers seated at either the front or back with plenty of room thanks to the ample leg and headroom available in both rows while the 519 litres of boot space means it can gobble up several large grocery bags without a fuss. It boasts all manner of goodies such as a digital instrument cluster, auto up-down windows for the front occupants, auto on/off headlights, remote start, speed-sensing door locks, rain-sensing wipers, reverse camera with guidelines, electronic parking brake with auto-brake hold, and auto-dimming rearview mirrors.

The engine is the same peppy 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo which produces a healthy 180bhp and 220Nm of torque and is mated to a CVT which directs the power to the front wheels. CVT’s are not the most enjoyable of transmissions out there and the Earth Dreams unit here holds back this Civic RS; you can’t stick it in Drive and forget about — the motor begins to scream as if the gearbox was stuck in first and so you have to change cogs via the paddle shifters which do their best in simulating actual gears, but don’t quite pull it off. Otherwise, it drives well — it is smooth and effortless and also corners nice and tight thanks to its stiffer chassis and even though the steering feels a little too light, you soon grow used to this.

Overall, it does enough to stand out in this crowded segment so if you’re after a practical saloon that’s got a bit of flair too then this Civic RS ticks all the boxes.