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The Best C-Segment: Honda Civic, Mazda 3 and Toyota Altis ( 2017-11-13 )

Among the best of the best, there are 3 cars that contend to be the best C-segment sedan and you need to pay close attention to. They are the Honda Civic, Mazda 3 and Toyota Altis. How do you choose between cars that are so closely matched up on price, spec sheet and driving enjoyment? MyCarsearch is here to break it down and take it up a notch by providing comparison for their design, competitive advantages, hiccups and drivability. We hope to see you walk away with an affirmative choice of a C-segment sedan that you would get for you and your family.


The tenth generation Honda Civic is now looking bold, features an entire new eye catching exterior design. The all new Civic looks more distinctive with the athletic elements on the front grills, matching with an eagle eye LED headlamps. The ‘hatch-back’ looking bodyline oddly works for Malaysia consumer market and the Civic is hitting the C-segment market like a storm.

Honda Civic 1.8S - RM110,426 (Excl. insurance)

Honda Civic 1.5TC - RM124,076 (Excl. insurance)

Honda Civic 1.5TCP - RM131,883 (Excl. insurance)


The Mazda 3 ‘kodo’ design language is looking stunning especially with the front fascia radiate with aggressive personality. The facelifted 3 is spotted with sleeker looking bumper with LED fog lamps. The sexy bodyline elongates to the rear and met with the eye-catching rear lamps.

Mazda 3 GL - RM110,625

Mazda 3 HS - RM125,625

Mazda 3 Hatchback HS - RM128,625

The new Corolla Altis is at its eleventh generation. The redesigned front fascia is now looking pushed back with the chrome grille projecting into the headlamps creating hawish outlook. Also, the lower bumper and fog lamps are now glued together forming one sleek looking cohesive unit.

Toyota Altis 1.8G - RM117,361

Toyota Altis 1.8E - RM120,278

Toyota Altis 2.0V  - RM134,885

Competitive Advantage


For the first time, the Honda Civic features a 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo engine, which delivers power out like a 2.4L without the associated fuel costs. The Civic turbo engine is mated with G-design shift CVT transmissions that efficiently mitigate turbo lag and increases fuel economy. Also, starting from the standard 1.8S variant, the Civic features awesome looking full color LCD digital meter panel that display speedometer, in-car entertainment, navigation and more. Also, all variants will get the same seven inch touchscreen head unit that support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  Can we not mentioned the overall interior is looking premium than ever, with carbon black trimming with the lash of chrome over the dashboard.


The Mazda 3 continues with the familiar 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine which already well-received in the market. This time, the Mazda 3 is being installed with G-Vectoring Control (GVC) which effectively varies engine torque in response to steering inputs, subtly controlling lateral and longitudinal acceleration forces. To put it in a simple term, it can effectively enhance overall handling and stability when going into corners, reduce body rolls and improve driving comfort.


The Corolla Altis has a long history in the C-segment market, it is well known for its reliability and versatility. The all new Altis features new Dual VVT-I petrol engine and mated with a seven-speed Sport Sequential Shiftmatic Mode transmission for torquey performance. The range topper gets cruise control, paddle shifters, and an eight way powered driver’s seat with lumbar support making the Altis an essential driver centric ride.

Some Hiccups (*Personal Opinion*)

The Civic is a great looking car inside out, there are almost nothing to pinpoint because it is simply the best looking Honda cars ever being made. First, the touchscreen unit. The fusing of climate control into the head unit might not work as good as it looks. In order to change the temperature in the car, drivers are required to navigate around the touch screen, which sometimes can be pretty frustrating given there are no physical buttons. Also, we find the rear blowers are situated too low which ended up blasting air to your feet instead. Apart from that, the Civic is definitely a rising star among its rival, outshines its competitors without a doubt.

The Mazda 3’s rear bench architecture is firm and, the back support feel excessively upright and rear legroom is tight. The Mazda 3 has the smallest space among the three, one needs to get really intimate with other passengers if sitting at the back bench. Also, the streamline design makes the roofline tighter and slightly inconvenient for passengers to get in and out of the car. The smaller size rear passenger’s windows might make your children feel a little claustrophobic. Other than that, the Mazda 3 score high for its driver-centric cockpit with low slung driver and passenger seat. In addition, the firm and sporty steering wheel as well as three rings speedometer indicate you are in a sporty performance sedan.

The Toyota Altis scores big when it comes to their comfortable seats both front and back. There is no doubt for the Altis cabin comfort. We would think that the Toyota Altis hiccups would be that there is no competitive advantage. While Civic has the turbo engine and Mazda 3 has GVC, the Altis has seven airbags, so?  Remember the previous Altis offers a bump of airbag count to seven with an RM4,000 additional package. This time, the Altis has given us seven and that’s it. We find the Altis to be slightly dated in terms of its tech feature and lack of excitement as a whole for what a Toyota C-segment can offer. To conclude the Altis, I can only drop a quote, ‘If you are not aiming for the star, then what are you aiming for?’

How it drives?

For a moment, we thought that the Civic has risen to become Honda’s D-segment sedan. The Civic offers plenty of equipment that check the boxes for a D-segment sedan should have. Driving the Civic feels motivated yet less fear for fuel economy. One might expect the Civic to drive like a Type R, it is in fact not the case. The Civic throws in gradual acceleration in order to reach to your desire speed. The Civic emphasizes efficiency in its drive thanks to its CVT which harmoniously drive the car to its performance peak. You might hear some low rung engine roar, but that is inevitable because of its CVT. Not to mention that the Civic makes a great family car, there are ample of passenger space with class leading leg room. 

The G-Vectoring is a cherry on top of the current Mazda 3 model. Many would not notice a big difference driving one with GVC installed, it is in fact a system that installed that provide enhancement in driving dynamics. Even without G-Vectoring Control, the current model feels smoother in its responses making corners, Driving the Mazda 3, you will have the confident to give a little bit more without fearing that the car will lose control. I am especially loving the low slung driving position of the Mazda 3, no the back, it works very well with the suspension that has been designed to improve overall driving comfort.

The Toyota Altis makes a great city driving car with comfortable seats and decent driving comfort. The Toyota CVT unit is one of the best at its class, the seven speed CVT throws in power and stretches its engine capacity to the fullest when you stomp hard onto the throttle. When going on low revs, the Altis delivers sophisticated shift pattern that holds up its speed. To be frank, the Toyota engine delivers smooth quiet performance that one often overlook because the Altis does not have the look of the Civic. 


It is hard to decide which car is better for you because it is essentially comparing an apple to an orange. So you can take my review with a pinch of salt and head over to the showroom for a test drive. For those who are planning to upgrade their current Myvi or Saga to a C-segment sedans, they are comparing the hell out of these 3 cars, be it their features, resale values, engine performances and even discounts in order to get the best deal out of their budget. To end this review, I would like to use three adjectives each to describe the Honda Civic, Mazda 3 and Toyota Altis to create a better understanding.

Honda Civic – Techy, all-rounded and practical

Mazda 3 – Compelling, handsome and fun to drive

Toyota Altis – Reliable, comfortable and conventional

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