Pros: fuel economy, quality, space
Cons: quiet styling, will likely be quite pricey
It’s all-change for the Honda Civic, although you might not guess that from the outside. As part of Honda’s commitment to having an all-electrified model line-up, the new Civic comes only as a hybrid (at least until the new Type R arrives…) and it fancies taking on the likes of the Toyota Corolla and the new Peugeot 308.
Honda Civic Design
The previous Civic was a riot of slashing lines, extra air intakes and a general sense of visual suddenness. The new Civic keeps a basically similar fastback-hatchback shape, but its style is far quieter, almost to the point of being a little anonymous. It’s a handsome enough car, but very quietly handsome, with really only the neat details around the grille and lights to help it stand out. The only real styling carry-over from the previous model are the chunky brake lights. It’s part of a general move at Honda to softer, more sober styling.
Honda Civic Interior
If the outside is faintly disappointing, then the interior is anything but. The Civic’s cabin takes the same basic shape as the recently launched HR-V crossover, but adds an extra dollop of quality. Everything you touch feels really high end, and the layout is pleasingly simple and easy to use — not always a given these days.
The central touchscreen measures nine inches across, which isn’t the biggest, but the menu system is fairly easy to use, and it comes with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Helpfully, Honda sticks to physical controls for things such as stereo volume and the dual-zone air conditioning system, so the Civic’s cabin is really easy to find your way around. The driver’s digital instrument panel (seven inches as standard, 10.2 inches on higher-spec models) is also a model of simple clarity.
The Civic is also very roomy, with copious legroom in the back and a decent (if perhaps not massive) 410-litre boot. The front seats are very comfortable, so the Civic should be an excellent choice for a long drive.
Honda Civic Performance & Drive
Even better, if you’re taking a long drive, is the Civic’s fuel economy. The new direct-injection 2.0-litre petrol engine doesn’t power the front wheels directly — instead, it drives through a pair of electric motors, which Honda refers to as an e-CVT (electronic-Continuously Variable Transmission).
Power and torque ratings of 183hp and 315Nm respectively are decent, but the Civic never feels any more than pleasantly brisk. Even in Sport mode, which sharpens up the throttle response and adds a bit of weight to the steering, there’s a sense of languid relaxation about driving the Civic.
It’s a car that has been optimised to be economical. On a mixed route that took in mountain passes, motorways and urban sprawl, we easily beat Honda’s official figure of 4.7 litres per 100km. That, by the way, was mostly in Sport mode and with the air conditioning blasting to keep us cool in 33-degree heat. If we’d switched into Eco mode and driven a little more gently, we’d have done better again. Even in a world of spiralling fuel prices, the Civic isn’t going to break the bank when you visit the pumps. A 108g/km CO2 rating means it’s also pretty tax friendly.
It’s friendly to your back too, with a soft ride quality that soaks up all but the nastiest and sharpest surface intrusions. Combined with very good refinement (which keeps the droning hybrid power delivery to a minimum) the Civic is really laid-back on the road.
Honda Civic Pricing
Honda won’t start taking Civic deliveries until the end of this year, and traditionally Civics have been more expensive than most rivals (albeit with better standard equipment in the way of compensation). We’d expect the basic version to cost about €33-35,000, to keep it in line with the 2.0-litre version of the Toyota Corolla, which will be its closest rival. Standard equipment is likely to include the nine-inch touchscreen, 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, 11 airbags, LED headlights and heated front seats.
Carzone Verdict: 4/5
The Civic has fallen off the radar of most Irish buyers in recent years, but this new model deserves to put it right back up there. It’s not the most thrilling thing to look at nor drive, but with an impressive, high-quality cabin and that ultra-frugal hybrid engine, it is particularly satisfying.