Honda launched their tenth generation of the Civic in early 2017. The new 5-door model exhibits best ever dynamics & sophistication, with a sporty, fresh & distinctive exterior design. The latest Civic has been newly engineered from the ground up. The new model also offers class-leading interior space with improved usability via Honda Connect. From a safety perspective, all models in the Civic range come with Honda’s SENSING safety technology.
The two petrol engines have recently been joined by a diesel, but with the steady move away from diesel, we decided to drive the 1.0 litre petrol model which we discovered, was pretty damn good. The 1.0 litre VTEC TURBO hatchback model, is available in three grades: SE, SR & EX.
The entry-level SE grade is generously equipped & features parking sensors front & rear, electronic parking brake with brake hold, automatic headlights, adaptive cruise control & the Honda SENSING suite of advanced active safety technologies. The next level up is SR grade which adds heated door mirrors, an eight-speaker audio system, 16-inch alloy wheels & dual zone climate control. EX models benefit from the Honda Connect 2 infotainment suite, heated front seats, 17-inch alloys, an opening glass roof & smart entry & start.
Confusingly, the larger petrol 1.5 litre VTEC TURBO hatchback model is offered in three grades: Sport, Sport Plus and Prestige, all of which are different to those available in the 1.0 litre range.
Sport models are equipped with 17-inch alloys, front & rear parking sensors, rear parking camera, the Honda Connect 2 infotainment suite, dual zone air conditioning, LED headlamp clusters, twin centre exhaust outlets & a sports body kit that includes a chin spoiler, rear bumper spats & side garnishes. Sport Plus models add power tilt panoramic sunroof, Dynamic Damper Control, premium audio system (11 speakers with 465 watts output), smart keyless entry & start & a wireless charging pad in the centre console. The Prestige grade builds on the Sport grade (excluding twin centre exhaust outlets & sports body kit), adding chrome front grille & door handle finishes, leather upholstery & heated rear seats
As my second ever company car back in 1990 was a Civic, third generation, I have seen the car grow in both popularity & size in the intervening years. I’ll admit to having a soft spot for the various Civic’s that have come since then. However, from a corporate perspective, Honda has seen fleet sales drop considerably over the past few years, primarily because of a lack of competitive engines between 2010 & 2017 & a chop & change policy of how the company would move forward with it’s corporate dealership network. The addition of a diesel means that they now have all bases covered.
The new model certainly looks striking. The front & rear of the Civic almost mirror each other The front sports aggressive wrap around headlights merging into an all-black front grille. The rear features bulbous rear lights & a curved low slanting rear window.
Inside there is a change. The familiar “spaceship” Honda dashboard from the past two incarnations is gone, replaced by one that’s more conservative, with a mixture of soft touch plastics. It all works, looks functional & is easy to use & to understand, but I kind of missed the old Honda, who took the boring norm in most cars, put it in bag, shook it up a bit & produced something a little more interesting for the driver to inhale.
The quality of the dash & controls is better than in previous Civics & leans towards that found in it’s mainstream competition. The seats are comfortable if a little bland & there’s more room in the cabin than there appears from the outside. The real bonus is with the boot. It’s a great size 478 litres, with a hidden compartment underneath the boot base. Fold the rear seats down and they lie flat making a truly ” IKEA fabulous ” load space of 1267 litres, way ahead of most of the competition.
On the road the new Civic is barely recognisable from its predecessor. New multi-link rear suspension means body control is good, while sitting in the driver & front passenger seat is very comfortable. It’s close to the ground as well. Although the new Civic is larger than the previous model, it’s 148mm longer & 29mm wider, it’s also 20mm lower, with a centre of gravity that has moved down 34mm. You do feel close to the road.
Whilst most new models launched recently, have got lighter, the Civic is actually heavier, 91kg to be precise, than the Mk9 which undoubtedly harms fuel economy. This extra weight doesn’t though, spoil the driving fun. The steering is light, whilst the manual six-speed gear box is a beauty, with a short, slick change only enhancing the enjoyment. I also tested the CVT version’s & am pleased to say that Hondas latest version definitely cuts the mustard.
The 1.0 litre manual 6-speed version will do everything that you want your car to do, within reason & is especially good on the motorway, once your’e up to speed. The 1.0 litre performed pretty well on all the types of roads we tried. If there is a downside, it does feel a little underpowered when climbing a steady incline.
As a company car driver or small fleet manager, what may sway you on your choice of engine size, are the fuel economy figures & CO2 emissions. CO2 & combined fuel consumption for the 1.0 litre VTEC TURBO SE or SR are 110g/km & 58.9mpg. The CVT version is better; 106g/km & 60.1 mpg. With on the road prices of £18,895 for the 1.0 litre manual SE & £20,295 for the CVT SE, the manual version wins on price.
So, in conclusion what do we have ? Your petrol choice is either the 1.0 litre Civic, which offers great value for money, especially if you go with the entry level SE or next up EX model, with decent mpg & emissions, or there is the more expensive 1.5 litre version, which is better equipped, faster & quieter but comes with the caveat of decidedly average fuel economy & emissions.
If you want a 5 door family hatchback that offers practicality, good performance with acceptable fuel economy, then look no further then the 1.0 litre manual version of the Civic hatch, which is my recommendation. I preferred the manual gearbox, but as the CVT is more frugal, you should not right it off, at least until you’ve tried one. Whilst the Civic may lack the German badge & kudos that some say comes with that, in all the important areas particularly cost, safety & technology, it’s most definitely put Honda back in the game. The addition of a saloon version this year which offers a larger boot & better interior space, can only enhance the potential of the Civic.
The Seven Samurai returns. 4/5.