Honda Civic Review
Honda’s latest Civic - British-built and now in its 10th generation - has grown in size which means usable space has increased too. All models are well-specified, notably with safety equipment (often lacking on lower trim levels) and now there is a diesel in addition to the two petrol engines available at the car’s 2017 launch. Honda has just added a saloon body to the range too.
Since those first Civics of the 1970s, the name has always been associated with both a distinctive shape and practical nature. Each generation grows in size and this time it adds a whopping 218mm in length for the hatchback, giving it a significant change in profile.
Looks-wise, the hatchback could easily be a saloon with the rear haunch flowing smoothly into the tail lights. But Honda adds a true saloon for those after a booted variant, a full 72mm longer still. The front is slenderer than the outgoing model and American-style amber side lights grace the front wheel arches. There are some complicated forms on the car, with the shoulder line ending and changing direction over the rear door handles for example, but it should be celebrated for not following the pack: there’s no mistaking a Civic.
Inside, the new Civic feels very much more up-to-date with just one main display supplementing the instruments ahead of the driver. (The previous car used a third display set deep into the centre of the dashboard.) Initially the facia appears somewhat busy with different surfaces and textures but information is in fact concise and clearly presented.
Due to the extended length (and wheelbase) the cabin feels roomier even though the car is lower. The finish around the cabin is reasonable and robust enough for the challenges of family life. The hatchback’s rear window is still split by a spoiler which reduces visibility somewhat but it is an improvement on the previous generation.
It is clear there has been much thought into the car’s usability and details like the parcel shelf which retracts into a roller at one side are great, saving space over the usual car-wide item which needs stowing somewhere when not in use.
The range is a busy one with seven trim levels from SE up to Prestige. Thankfully all come with what most customers would describe as the essentials from DAB radio to parking sensors, Collision Mitigation Braking System to adaptive cruise control.
The one-litre petrol is a turbocharged three-cylinder generating an impressive 126 PS. It is smooth, although becomes much more vocal as the revs climb toward 4,000 rpm; to realise this little engine’s power, it does need to be revved too. The 1.5-litre petrol engine - available in hatchback models only - is also refined and needs to be worked much less to deliver quite respectable performance. And now there is the 120 PS 1.6-litre diesel.
The petrol engines are available with a slick manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic gearbox. The diesel’s automatic option is Honda’s smooth nine-speed unit.
Driving the new diesel
With the trend towards petrol engines, it is interesting to see the diesel added at this stage. However, for those eating the motorway miles, its economy will be hugely appreciated. It is refined, torquey and very well matched to the car. Power delivery is pleasingly progressive, picking up comfortably from low revs which makes it extremely relaxed.
One of the biggest plus points of the new Civic is its ride quality. During our test of the various models, all remained extremely composed over some particularly poor quality road surfaces and speed humps. The Adaptive Damper System, while making the ride perhaps a little firm for regular driving, worked particularly well through the corners where the setting reduces body roll considerably.
Overall, the new Civic is no longer compact but its growth is reflected in its increased practicality. Good perceived build quality, sensible engines and unique design give it an appeal all of its own.
About the Author
Andrew is a freelance motoring journalist with a background in IT and the vehicle leasing industry. With a lifetime’s passion for all things automotive, he can be found behind the wheel of everything from vans to supercars. In addition to reviewing the latest vehicles and technology, Andrew also runs a couple of classic British motors. He lives at the edge of the Peak District with his son and cat.
Andrew Wright @theMotorWriter