Honda Civic: road test

Posted on February 17th, 2017 by James Luckhurst

The Civic hatchback is worthy of Honda’s high hopes.

Honda Civic: road test

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What is it?
Honda has high hopes for the British-built new Civic, seeking to please current owners while attracting new ones with a car that’s more efficient, more practical and better to drive.

How safe is it?
Very safe. Honda is targeting five-star performance in Euro NCAP tests, and the level of standard safety kit across the range is almost unprecedented at this size of car.

Who should buy one?
Some may be put off by the car’s unusual looks, but if you like the styling the new Civic is roomy and drives very well.

Road test by David Motton 6 February 2017



Honda Civic: road test
Initially, the Civic will come with a choice of just two petrol engines, though there is a new performance Type-R model coming in the summer, and a new diesel joining the range at the end of 2017.
From launch, the options are either the 129PS (127bhp) 1.0-litre, expected to be the more popular, or a 182PS (180bhp) 1.5. Honda’s newly designed six-speed manual gearbox and CVT automatic transmission are offered on both, the latter costing an additional £1400. Though it’s a touch more economical than the manual, the increased noise from an engine that sounds like it’s being worked harder makes the CVT the less desirable choice.
With a manual gearbox, the impressive 1.0-litre Civic offers carbon dioxide emissions from 110g/km, which isn’t bad for a petrol engine, and drops by 4g/km with the CVT automatic. That means an official fuel economy test figure of 58.9mpg for the manual, though it’s worth noting that the higher trim levels go up to 117g/km and an official 55.4mpg due to larger alloy wheels.
Honda is pinning much of its hopes for earning new and younger Civic customers on the fact that the car is much better to drive than its predecessors, and to a large extent that’s a fair boast. The engineers have succeeded in developing a car that’s agile and secure through corners, has nicely weighted steering that’s not too heavy, but isn’t so light that it lacks sensitivity.
The ride quality has also improved over the last Civic, which was quite jittery. It’s reasonable to place the new car near the top of the class for driving enjoyment. The lack of wind and road noise at motorway speed impresses, and the only time refinement is really an issue is with the CVT gearbox, where acceleration is accompanied by an unpleasant whirring engine noise that increases in volume as speed rises. The two new petrol engines are both good, but the 129PS 1.0-litre better balances efficiency and performance.

Honda Civic: road test

Honda has nailed the practicality element of buyers’ decisions, with lots of space for people and their luggage. Longer and wider than its predecessor, the new Civic gets more boot space than anything in the class bar Skoda’s Octavia, and offers excellent legroom for rear passengers, although taller ones will struggle for headroom thanks to the way the roofline curves backwards.
The boot has a unique design of sideways pull-across luggage cover rather than a proper parcel shelf, something Honda has developed to solve the problem of that sloping roofline requiring a large and impractical shelf to successful hide boot contents from prying eyes. It seems a bit flimsy and tricky to successfully retract first time.
The previous Civic had rear seats that flipped upwards to create space for larger items, but this has been dropped for the latest model, with Honda citing lack of customer requirement for what was a clever feature.

Honda Civic: road test

Every Civic gets the Honda Sensing suite, including forward collision warning and mitigation systems, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation, as well as several others such as traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning. However, the tailgate design incorporates a bar across the rear window that hampers rear visibility.

Honda Civic: road test

Honda offers different trim levels of S, SE, SR and SX for the smaller engine, and Sport, Sport Plus and Prestige for the more powerful 1.5 unit. Stepping up from S to SE trim costs just £100, and adds heated front seats and mirrors, alloy wheels and air conditioning, while the £1845 jump to SR brings larger alloy wheels and Honda’s touchscreen infotainment system.


Honda Civic: road test

The Civic is within touching distance of the equivalent Volkswagen Golf while still providing the necessary value to compete with such a popular model. The 1.0 manual’s 110g/km efficiency figure is within reach of the class best, if not quite up with them, as the Peugeot 308 can offer emissions of 104g/km, and Ford’s Focus petrol model gets under 100g/km.

The Civic hatchback is worthy of Honda’s high hopes.

Price: £18,355
Performance: 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds
Economy: 58.9mpg combined
Insurance: Group 1E
Tax: £140 first year and standard

Figures for 1.0 129PS SE manual