Road test: Honda Civic
Honda mounts a decent case for the saloon, with space and restrained looks.
What is it?
Honda bucks the crossover trend by adding a four-door saloon version of its radically styled Civic to the range with a bigger boot and softer suspension than the hatchback.
How green is it?
Engine choice is restricted to the 1.0-litre petrol or 1.6 turbodiesel, with the latter offering a superb 83.1mpg combined economy and 91g/km with the manual gearbox.
Who should buy one?
Anyone who finds the Civic hatch’s styling a bit too bold should find the saloon’s looks more restrained, and the cabin space makes it almost as roomy as the old Accord.
Road test by AL Suttie, December 2018
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
The main difference between this model and the hatch may be the boot’s styling and the effect that has on practicality, but there are other differences between four- and five-door Civics. Most notably, the Japanese firm has softened the suspension settings for the saloon, which will be welcome news to many who find the latter’s ride too firm and fidgety.
Honda has also revised the steering for the saloon, though the reasons for this are less clear-cut; it’s hard to appreciate any difference between how the four-door’s steering reacts next to that of the hatch. What you get is power assistance that makes the wheel light to use at the lowest speeds, and free from kick-back once the pace increases. There’s not much in the way of feedback, but cornering is predictable and safe.
The saloon is clearly pitched at those who value comfort above out-and-out driving dynamics. It soaks up the sort of lumps and bumps that form the average A-road with ease and there’s a loping gait to the diesel model that makes it a very relaxing car to cover big miles in. A little more insulation from road and wind noise would be good, but the engine is hushed even when worked hard.
Our test car came with the six-speed manual transmission and 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine, which is the ideal combination for those covering big distances on a regular basis. It sips fuel at the sort of rate most hybrids would envy and the motor pulls keenly on the motorway so you don’t have to disturb the gear lever when cruising. There’s also a nine-speed automatic transmission, but that comes with a noticeable drop in economy and rise in emissions.
A 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine is the other choice in the Civic saloon and it’s the one to go for if most of your driving is short-hop commuting or around town. It’s peppy enough in most situations, but we reckon the diesel is the better of the two options in most conditions.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
A saloon has a smaller boot than a hatch, right? Not in the Civic’s case. Take the four-door and you get a 519-litre boot compared the tailgate-equipped version’s 478 litres. Drop the rear seats down and the hatch offers up to 828 litres, but for daily duties the saloon has the edge.
The saloon boot aperture may be wide, but it’s still not as big as the hatch’s. This makes loading lareger suitcases more of a struggle, but it’s one we’d accept for the more generous space. You also get levers in the inside of the boot opening to drop the 60/40 split rear seats.
The rest of the Civic saloon’s cabin is much the same as its hatch sister’s, so you get a low-set driving position with good vision to the front and sides, but the slope of the rear screen limits the view when changing lanes on the motorway. Rear seat occupants are well looked after with generous space.
All versions come with six airbags, twin ISOFIX mounts in the back, and Vehicle Stability Assist. You also get Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist, a Traffic Sign Recognition System, Intelligent Speed Limiter, and Forward Collision Warning and Collision Mitigation Braking. Adaptive Cruise Control maintains a safe distance to the vehicle ahead.
All models include alloy wheels, automatic headlights and Bluetooth. However, you need to step up from the SE with its five-inch infotainment screen to the SR to get the larger and easier to use seven-inch monitor that also comes with sat-nav, internet browsing and connectivity for smartphones. The EX gains keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, sunroof, heated front seats, blind spot monitor and wireless phone charging.
This is a tale of two halves. The petrol Civic saloon offers a decent but unremarkable 58.9mpg combined economy with a manual gearbox, or 60.1mpg with the auto, while CO2 emissions come in at 110g/km (107g/km for the auto). The diesel offers 83.1mpg average consumption (68.9mpg as an auto) and 91g/km CO2 output (108g/km auto). A three-year, 90,000-mile warranty is standard.
WE SAY Honda mounts a decent case for the saloon, with space and re-strained looks.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62 in 10.0 secs
Figures for the 1.6 i-DTEC SR 6-spd manual