Honda Civic hatchback review
“The latest Honda Civic is a real departure, with unique styling in the family hatchback class and lots of desirable talents”
- Lots of standard safety equipment
- 1.0-litre petrol engine is a peach
- Enjoyable to drive
- Rear headroom a little tight
- Steering could do with more ‘feel’
- Looks may be too radical for some
The Honda Civic is now in its 10th generation, with the latest model offering striking looks and frugal engines to tempt buyers away from more mainstream choices, as well as crossovers. Car makers believe that hatchback models like the Civic still have a vital role to play, with the latest generation Ford Focus, Mazda3, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf all more advanced and efficient than ever before.
Power comes from two small, turbocharged engines, starting with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol that’s punchy and economical. A larger 1.5-litre sits above it in the range but the 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel is no longer available, in keeping with the fall of diesel sales. You’ll need to hunt one out from stock or second-hand if you’re keen on its 62.8mpg fuel economy and its low CO2 emissions of 117-122g/km. Private buyers who primarily make infrequent, short journeys might find the smallest 1.0-litre petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox the best fit but the seven-speed CVT automatic could be a better option if you spend a lot of time on the motorway.
Honda has worked hard on the way the 10th-generation Civic drives and even the entry-level version is fun, if a little noisier than some rivals. Looks are entirely subjective, but we reckon the Civic is rather eye-catching, particularly when you see one on the road. Look closer and you'll find the build quality is excellent as far as the exterior and interior goes, with some attractive finishes and soft-touch materials that help justify the Civic’s price.
Even though the Civic starts at around £20,000, significantly undercutting the entry-level Golf, it’s certainly not a budget option, but it does tend to be well equipped. Even the entry-level SE model gets heated electric door mirrors, lots of driving assistance devices, Bluetooth and DAB radio, climate control and 16-inch alloy wheels. SR adds leather touchpoints, parking assistance and Honda’s touchscreen with sat nav and smartphone mirroring; it’s our pick of the range with the 1.0-litre engine.
Higher in the range, the Civic can be specified in EX Sport Line trim based on the EX grade, which is available with the 124bhp 1.0-litre petrol. This version adds more aggressive bumpers and gloss black exterior trim, along with black seats with red stitching. There is also a Sport trim level with more equipment, which is only available with a 1.5-litre 180bhp petrol engine. Sitting above the main Civic range is the impressive Honda Civic Type R hot hatchback, which we’ve reviewed separately.
One of the few areas the new Civic does disappoint is rear headroom, which is unlikely to be enough for tall passengers to be comfortable on longer trips. You’ll want to look at rivals if tall adults will regularly be travelling in the back. The fact is, the Civic is lower than the old car, but it's also longer and wider and, in most respects, more spacious. It's practical, too, with myriad storage compartments and a boot that, at 478 litres in most versions, is usefully larger than those of rivals, including the Astra, Focus and Golf.
The Civic is loaded with advanced safety features including adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking. It only received four stars following independent Euro NCAP crash-testing in July 2017, but has since been updated by Honda and re-tested, with cars built from September 2017 getting the full five stars.