The Honda Civic has been a key sight on the motoring landscape for 50 years now, with some 27.5 million cars sold internationally since the dinky first generation hit the scene back in 1972. Now, we’re up to the eleventh incarnation of the Civic, which hopes to fly in the face of ever-rising SUV and crossover popularity.
It’s bigger and more spacious than before, while the previous Civic’s wide range of engines has been slimmed down to just a single hybrid option. We’ve already tried the Civic out in sunny Spain, but today we’re seeing how it copes with the UK’s roads.
From the outside, you might not think that an awful lot has changed with this new Civic. However, this new model introduces some sizeable edits in order to move the game along. Most notable is the increase in wheelbase – which is 35mm longer than the previous Civic – which helps to increase interior space and practicality.
It’s also wider and lower than before, giving it the title of the lowest car in the C-segment. This should, in theory, make the Civic feel even more dynamic to drive than before.
As we’ve already mentioned, there’s just a single engine option available with the new Civic. It all revolves around a 2.0-litre petrol unit, which is then combined with a 105kW electric motor and a compact battery. In total, you get 181bhp and 315Nm, which is enough to get the Civic from 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds and onwards to a top speed of 112mph.
The hybrid setup can run on electric power for short periods of time, too, while Honda claims up to 56.5mpg combined and CO2 emissions of 114g/km. Unlike many other hybrid setups, the one in the Civic will frequently use the petrol engine as a direct power source for the electric motors on the front wheels, giving a more EV-like driving experience.
The Civic feels setup for keener drivers right from the off. To begin with, you’re able to get nice and low in the car, meaning that you feel as if you’re sitting ‘in’ it rather than ‘on’ it. The adjustment on offer is good, too, so you’re able to get comfortable right away.
The powertrain feels like a real step forward for hybrids, too. It’s surprisingly punchy but isn’t overly vocal under heavier acceleration as you find in some of the Civic’s rivals. The body control is excellent, with the Civic taking on bends with genuine poise and agility. It’s firm, mind you, while road noise is noticeable at motorway speeds. However, it’s at those higher speeds where the Civic feels composed and well-judged. It’ll mean that the Civic will be a welcome option for those doing big-distance drives.
The front end of the new Civic is quite close in design to that of its predecessor. It appears wider than before, mind you, so it feels like it’s got a bit more presence than the car it replaces. The bonnet is lower than before, too, giving the Civic a sportier feel.
Around the back, it feels as if Honda has tried to play it a little safe. It’s not to say that it’s offensive to the eye – far from it – but given how the previous generation Civic shook things up in the styling department, we would’ve liked to have seen a little more flamboyance from its replacement.
As we’ve already highlighted, the new Civic gains an elongated wheelbase over the car it replaces. As a result, it’s got an impressively spacious interior, with good levels of legroom for those sitting in the rear. Plus, there’s plenty of headroom despite that raked roofline. The general build quality is good, too, with the forward area of the cabin feeling particularly well-built. It’s nice to see physical controls for the heating and ventilation, too, while the stalks for the air vents have a pleasingly solid feel to them.
It’s a shame that boot space has taken a drop over the predecessor, falling from 478 litres to 404 litres. You can fold the rear seats down to extend it, mind you, which pushes this up to 1,187 litres if you were to load items up to the roof.
All Civic models have been specified to a high standard, with entry point ‘Elegance’ models – priced from £29,595 – bringing a nine-inch infotainment display, 17-inch wheels and heated front seats from the off.
Our test car came in tip-top Advance trim, however. Priced from £32,995, these models get pretty much all of the bells and whistles you could want, including 18-inch two-tone alloys, electrically adjustable front seats and a Bose sound system.
A 10.2-inch information display in place of the conventional dials is also included at this grade and it’s both clear to read and easy to navigate. It’ll also show when the car’s brake lights are illuminated, which is quite handy when you’re using cruise control and allowing the computer to control the braking for you.
The new Civic really shows that there’s life in the C-segment yet. This is a really good car to drive, bringing an excellent level of driver involvement and some verve to the way it drives. It’s got a great cabin, too, which blends old-school physical controls with some clear and modern displays.
But it’s the powertrain that shines through here. It feels like there’s little downside to this single-setup choice from Honda and doesn’t leave you wishing there were a diesel or conventional petrol choice. Combined with a well-judged chassis, it makes the Civic a very appealing prospect.
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