Honda Civic hatchback
Price: £16,995 - £26,650
- Spacious boot
- Efficient engines
- Decent equipment
- Poor rear visibility
- Dull design
- Limited range of engines
" 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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."
"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."
"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