Honda Civic hatchback
Price £18,360 - £24,560
- Distinctive styling
- Smooth and frugal diesel
- Generous standard equipment
- Poor rear visibility
- Weak 1.4-litre petrol
- Rivals more fun to drive
At a glance
“The Honda Civic is a stylish and reliable family hatchback with a distinctive design that makes it a credible alternative to the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.”
The Honda Civic has become a household name ever since becoming one of the very first Japanese cars to gain a serious foothold in the British and American markets over 40 years ago. Back then, buyers were attracted by the Civic's efficient engines, strong build quality and good list of standard equipment. All these traditions have been maintained, and the reliable, stylish Honda Civic is now in its ninth generation.
The Civic exists in a far more crowded and competitive marketplace these days. The Ford Focus is as attractive a package as ever, while the good-looking Vauxhall Astra and classy, quality-packed Volkswagen Golf continue to sell very well. Buyers can also opt for the great-value Skoda Octavia and Hyundai i30, the stylish SEAT Leon or the Kia Cee’d with its industry-leading seven-year warranty.
The Civic has enough virtues to make an effective case for itself. It's a striking car with a good-looking interior, and has a choice of modern, efficient engines. We recommend the smooth, quiet 1.6-litre diesel, capable of impressive 78.5mpg fuel economy and road-tax exemption thanks to low CO2 emissions figures. It's also rated in a low 16% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax bracket, making the Civic diesel attractive to company-car users, who will also appreciate its low down pulling power.
There are two petrol engines, a 1.4 and 1.8-litre, though these are much less economical and have higher CO2 emissions ratings, making them more expensive to run and tax. And, though the 1.8-litre has higher performance on paper, it doesn’t feel particularly energetic compared to the diesel.
The Honda Civic doesn’t give quite as sharp a driving experience as the Ford Focus or the Volkswagen Golf, which both have more accurate steering. The Civic has a softer suspension set-up that numbs its handling responses – though it always feels safe and secure on the road.
The Civic seems a little expensive compared to Focus, Astra and i30 rivals, and even the classy Golf starts from a lower price. However, all models of Civic feature equipment that some rivals lack, including DAB radio, Bluetooth phone connection and alloy wheels. The only optional extra you’re likely to need is Honda's well-priced sat-nav system.
A Civic Sport trim is available for those who wish their Civic to stand out still further – it has an aggressive bodykit and rear spoiler, while tinted glass and large, black-painted alloy wheels give it plenty of road presence. It offers much of the sporting appeal of the high-performance Type R (read our separate review here) without the power or the higher running costs.
Safety has always been a Civic strong-point and true to form it holds a five-star rating after independent crash testing by Euro NCAP. It has all the safety features you might expect including anti-lock brakes and stability control, as well as some others that you might not. For example, an autonomous ‘active city braking’ system that automatically applies the brakes if sensors predict a low-speed collision or detect an obstacle in the road.
The Honda Civic should be drama-free to live with, too. It came 40th out of 150 cars in our 2016 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, with drivers praising reliability above all else – it came 7th overall in that discipline. Owners were also happy with practicality, build quality and low running costs.
Economical, with unmistakable looks and a reputation for reliability, the Honda Civic is well worthy of consideration among formidable rivals, even if it is a little expensive.
Honda Civic diesel is very economical, but petrol models are outclassed by newer rivals
The diesel Honda Civic offers the best blend of performance and economy
Interior quality in the Honda Civic is better than most rivals, but it still falls short of the Volkswagen Golf
A huge boot and innovative seat-folding system make the Honda Civic very practical
The new Honda Civic keeps the old model’s excellent reliability record