Review

Honda Civic hatchback

Price  £16,995 - £26,655

Honda Civic hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Spacious boot
  • Efficient engines
  • Decent equipment
Cons
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Dull design
  • Limited range of engines

At a glance

The greenest
1.6 i-DTEC SR 5dr £24,360
The cheapest
1.4 i-VTEC S 5dr £16,995
The fastest
1.8 i-VTEC S 5dr £19,255
Top of the range
1.8 i-VTEC Auto EX Plus 5dr £26,655

" The Honda Civic is well built, comfortable, safe and as dependable as they come "

The Honda Civic is a family hatchback and a rival to cars like the Ford Focus, Renault Megane and Volkswagen Golf. The old version of the Civic was a real head-turner thanks to a futuristic, space-age design, but the current model is not quite as exciting to look at.

What it lacks in looks it has made up for in comfort, though. All models with manual gearboxes come fitted with stop-start as standard, which automatically shuts down the engine when the car comes to a standstill in order to save fuel, which helps to keep the Civic's running costs low. It's also got a spacious boot and one of the best reputations for reliability in the business.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.1 / 5

Economy and efficiency are among the best in class

One of the reasons that this Civic doesn’t look quite as glamorous as the old model is that the design has been tweaked to be more aerodynamic – and that's helped to make it more efficient. There's a choice of four engines: two petrol and two diesel. The most efficient is the 1.6-litre diesels, which can do 78.5mpg and emits just 94g/km CO2, making it exempt from road tax. Both figures are seriously impressive and among the best in the family hatchback class. The 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel isn’t far behind, either. It will do 67.3mpg and emits 110g/km CO2. The 1.4-litre i-VTEC petrol does 52.3mpg and emits 129g/km CO2, while the 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrol does 48.7mpg and emits 137g/km CO2. The Civic also has a low insurance group rating, which will help keep your premium low.

Interior & comfort

3.4 / 5

The Civic is comfortable but taller passengers will find headroom tight in the rear

The old Civic was criticised for having a firm ride that jolted occupants around. But that's no longer an issue. Honda's engineers have used a new fluid-filled suspension set-up on the current version of the Civic that produces a really smooth and comfortable ride. The interior is nicely insulated from wind, road and engine noise, too, and all the seats are comfortable. Tall passengers may find there's not a lot of headroom in the back because the Civic's roofline slopes pretty sharply to the boot and cuts into the available space. The Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf offer more spacious rear seats for buyers who need to regularly carry tall passengers.

Practicality & boot space

4.3 / 5

Spacious boot and a number of practical touches but rear visibility is awful

The designers at Honda are masters of getting the most possible space out of a car, and they’ve worked wonders with the Civic. For example, the fuel tank has been positioned beneath the floor in the centre of the car to free up space, which has resulted in a very large boot. It has 487 litres of capacity, which is a massive 171 litres bigger than the boot in the Ford Focus. The space can be expanded to 1,210 litres by folding down the rear seats.

The bases of the rear seats on the Civic can also be flipped up like cinema seats to free up space to allow you to carry tall items. One major flaw in the Civic's practicality, though, is the split rear window, which really obstructs visibility and makes reversing a lot harder than it should be. The door pillars are pretty thick too, which also help to restrict visibility and means the Civic isn’t as easy to manoeuvre as it should be.

Reliability & safety

4.6 / 5

Hondas are some of the most dependable cars around

There aren’t many cars brands that have a reputation for reliability that can match Honda's. Its cars are generally bullet proof, and there's no reason the Civic should be any different. The current model shares many of its engines and mechanical parts with the old version, which was one of the most durable cars around. Honda as a brand consistently does well in customer satisfaction surveys. It came sixth out of 32 in the 2013 Driver Power manufacturer chart and it's safe, too - it picked up the maximum five-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests. And all models come as standard with a full complement of airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. EX and EX GT spec models also get adaptive cruise control and a low-speed collision mitigation system to help avoid collisions.

Engines, drive & performance

2.7 / 5

Capable and comfortable but no match for rivals

The Civic performs ok on the road but it's not without issues. The engineers have done a great job with the new fluid-filled suspension to make the car more comfortable but it's still not particularly involving to drive. That's mainly because the steering is a little vague and light, so it doesn’t feel as accurate as a Volkswagen Golf or a Ford Focus.

The engines are largely good, though – although the 1.8-litre petrol does get pretty loud when pushed hard. The other three engines offer a great mix of power and fuel economy and are a lot more refined. The 2.2-litre diesel offers the best performance, and will cover 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds.

However, the 1.6-litre diesel is probably the pick of the bunch, as it returns excellent economy, emissions are low enough to make it exempt from road tax, and it still offers decent performance. A six-speed manual gearbox is fitted as standard on all models but there is a five-speed automatic gearbox available on the 1.8-litre petrol engine. We’d avoid it though, as it's pretty jerky.

Price, value for money & options

3.4 / 5

Equipment levels are good and the Civic holds on to its value well

The Civic isn’t the cheapest of family hatchbacks but all models come very well equipped, so it does offer good value for money. Even entry-level models get LED daytime running lights, alloy wheels, stop-start technology, air-con and an MP3 compatible stereo as standard. Go up a spec level and you’ll get climate control, sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity, plus automatic headlights.

Top spec EX and EX GT cars are pretty pricey but, again, their equipment levels are very impressive. Hondas have excellent resale values, too, so it's likely you’ll lose less money on a Civic when it comes time to sell it than you would on a rival like the Ford Focus.

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 3 reviews
  • 4.0 / 5

    "From the driver's seat, visibility is improved thanks to thinner A-pillars, but the spilt screen still hampers the view to the rear. The dash layout has grown up, too, with the confusing digital dials from the old car making way for a cleaner, more logical design."

  • 4.0 / 5

    "So like before it's still a spacious, well built and practical hatchback. It retains the now familiar Civic style too, although in our opinion it's a little fussy and not as neat as the model it replaces. What has improved is quality - the interior now feels more upmarket but is still as well built as before. And as it's a Honda you can expect bomb proof reliability too."

  • 4.0 / 5

    "The previous Civic's engines have been carried over, albeit in a more powerful and cleaner state. However, it's disappointing not to find a brand new petrol engine - like a 1.4 turbo or 1.6 turbo - to compete with European rivals. A smaller diesel engine is on the way next year and should open up the Civic's appeal."

Last updated 
12 Feb 2014

Disqus - noscript

Hondas are normally very reliable but not Civics. Check out Which, JD Power and Auto Express - Driver Power.

As well as being fug, this thing has ATROCIOUS rear and rear 3/4 visibility. I just rented one for a day and ripped the back bumper off on a curb because I couldn't see it. AVOID.

Love the car. Great specification, comfortable, well built and the design? It's cool

I've driven 400miles in 2 days in a 1.6 diesel, ES spec ... it's a demo car and I'm not going to buy one.

Seats - un-supportive and not comfy enough for me.

Engine - good, but I couldn't get anywhere near the claimed econ figures. And I only tried it with one person and 2 small bags, I suspect things would get sluggish with any kind of load.

Ride - much better than the previous car but now skittish and fidgety.

Steering - inert electric power steering, horrible. And sometimes it's to sharp, particularly at motorway speeds.

Driving Experience - dull but efficient

Pedals - getting annoyed that I can't move my foot from accelerator to brake without catching my toe on something

Digi speedo - groan, why are Honda persisting with this mix of horrible dials?

Lack of cubby's in the front will become annoying, and where do I keep my sunglasses?

Opening the fuel flap is surprisingly awkward, the release switch being where you would normally expect to find the bonnet release - anyone with mobility issues will struggle to reach it, very poor.

Cabin noise - unexpectedly high, and very surprised to hear wind whistling around the driver's door at motorway speeds on a car that's done less than 1000 miles.

Rear vis - shocking, I can see why there's a camera on the back - is that standard?

And my right leg is aching.

I've driven 400miles in 2 days in a 1.6 diesel, ES spec ... it's a demo car and I'm not going to buy one.

Seats - un-supportive and not comfy enough for me.

Engine - good, but I couldn't get anywhere near the claimed econ figures. And I only tried it with one person and 2 small bags, I suspect things would get sluggish with any kind of load.

Ride - much better than the previous car but now skittish and fidgety.

Steering - inert electric power steering, horrible. And sometimes it's too sharp, particularly at motorway speeds.

Driving Experience - dull but efficient

Pedals - getting annoyed that I can't move my foot from accelerator to brake without catching my toe on something

Digi speedo - groan, why are Honda persisting with this mix of horrible dials?

Lack of cubby's in the front will become annoying, and where do I keep my sunglasses?

Opening the fuel flap is surprisingly awkward, the release switch being where you would normally expect to find the bonnet release - anyone with mobility issues will struggle to reach it, very poor.

Cabin noise - unexpectedly high, and very surprised to hear wind whistling around the driver's door at motorway speeds on a car that's done less than 1000 miles.

Rear vis - shocking, I can see why there's a camera on the back - is that standard?

and my right leg is aching.

I had a Championship white before so switching to a lesser New Honda Civic model was never going to be good, comparative fuel economy is very good, went for 2.2 Diesel and to be honest not bad, can't wait for the new type-R.

However the design is just bizarre and so backwards from previous car; adding a rear wiper that is bulky on the rear view and does not help with vision, going back wards with the front wipers to side by side. Rear lights look different but not stylish, running lights switch off when car lights come on, seat combo in the back is just one step too far, I could go on and on and on but the big question here is.

Who drives a Honda Civic?

Having had a Championship White I saw such a wide range of people driving the Civic, impressive from a marketing perspective, so why have they gathered a focus group of 65+ pensioners to help design the new car, everything they have added is practical though pretty pointless. It has ruined the design of a unique and very popular car.

Next step is 2015 is a Type R or a Mercedes A class AMG, the Merc has all the right lines to look so good, price is similar. I hope Honda can step up with some good design changes to coincide with the new TypeR or they will loose potential custom.

I've just had one for a week and found visibility no problem. This sounds more like a lack of driver skill than a problem with the car itself.

Ripping the back bumper off on a curb is more lack of driving skill because it is difficult to see on all models. I have one for the last three months and it is wonderful to drive

brill car, these people who go on about rear advisability are a joke, the car has 3 mirrors and a reversing camera and some even have parking sensors to, if you cant park with that lot its time to hang your keys up, rear spoiler on the civic looks great and also blacks out drivers head lights who get to close at night.

I’m in a good position to review this car as my old (2001)
Civic 1.6 Ex finally gave up last week after 120,000 miles. I’ve been driving a
rental car (the new Peugot 308 diesel) for the last three days and it’s been awful
– clutch and brake pedals far too close together, uncomfortable seats,
permanently uncomfortable driving position that has given me sciatica, a poorly
designed fixed centre storage box that I keep banging my elbow against every
time I change to second or fourth gear, a high clutch that feels like you’re
putting your foot in a trench when you change gear, a horrible, horrible car.

So I drove this to my Honda dealer to test drive the new
Civic (1.8 ES). Stepping out of the Peugot into the new Civic was like steeping
out of the dark ages into the Enlightenment. It took me less than a minute to
find a comfortable driving position in the Civic. I wasn’t keen on having to
put the clutch down before turning the ignition but that proved to be the only
minor gripe I had with this car.

This is an excellent car. The first thing you notice is just
how comfortable and stress-free it is to drive. What a joy to step into a car
that has pedals that are designed for grown-ups. The gear changes were silky smooth,
very good brakes and a nicely responsive accelerator. This isn’t a car for
speed-merchants but, as ever with Honda, you do get quite a bit of oomph at
higher revs.

The ride was excellent, it glides over minor pot-holes and
bumps with ease (and comfort). Steering was a tad on the light side for my liking
but not a problem. Handling was impressive overall, both at city speeds and on
the motorway. One feature I really liked was how cocooned I felt in the cabin.
This feels a very safe car as well, maybe too safe for speed merchants and car
snobs but the everyday driver will have no complaints. I also really like the
storage space in this car, clever seat combinations and a surprisingly large
boot space.

I loved the dashboard design too, it’s intuitive to use,
everything within easy reach. The analogue speedo, cleverly positioned to always
be in the driver’s central field of vision, is not only well-designed it’s very
useful in that it only needs one quick glance. After driving the old ‘old’
Civic for twelve years I did have some misgivings about the new one,
particularly the controversial rear design. But I took this one on the
supermarket parking test and had no problems at all getting into a tight space.
I even like the wing mirrors on this car. Needless to say, I’m putting my order
in for a new one this weekend. This is a great little car, a real pleasure to
drive and if it lasts as long as my old Civic I’ll be a very happy punter.

I am very puzzled why the 1.8 honda civic 2012 emissions jump rapidly from the SE to the ES version? From £125 to £140 when it is same engine, no increase power at all.

check the wheels.
I noticed same type of discrepancy between my 1.4 tsi golf and my relat
ives 1.4tsi seat leon, both units identical but he had sporty alloys (and dear tyres), golf had eco tyres (not expensive as tyres go)yet his road tax was higher than mine.

Cant blame the car,I cant think of one modern hatch that you can judge the distance front or back, most are fitted with reversing sensors for that reason. The ford focus is typical.

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