Hatchbacks have been a consistent workhorse of family life through decades of dramatic change in the motoring landscape. Shopping, dogs and furniture find a home in the back of these practical yet compact packages. The Honda Civic has always been a favourite, but can this 10th generation car one-up the dominant Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus for class honours, not to mention other alternatives like the great value Hyundai i30, Seat Leon and Peugeot 308?
|Bodystyle: Saloon||Seats: 5||Price: From £18,890-£26,570|
Did you know? The Honda Civic hatchback is built in the UK and exported worldwide.
The Honda Civic is more competitive than ever with generous stand equipment and a broad range of trim levels to choose from. This generation steps out from the shadows often cast by rivals.
Families will really value the vast boot that is considerably larger than a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. Aforementioned competitors do a better job when it comes to involvement behind the wheel and the Golf in particular outshines the Civic in terms of refinement. However, as a complete package the Civic is certainly amongst the best in its class.
Is this the best Honda Civic thus far? We think so.
We Don't Like
Overly light steering
Honda Civics through the ages have gone in a cyclical motion of unimaginative to extrovert. Remember the one with triangular exhausts? This generation firmly sits in the latter category. You won’t be mistaking this for a Focus, Astra or Megane in the car park.
As this car is being sold globally for the first time, the American influence is clear to see in its broad gloss black grille (top spec cars get chrome) and bold boomerang taillights. Sharp creases form arguably the most dynamic looking Civic thus far, especially in Sport trim where contrasting fins are added to the skirting.
Whether the Civic is distinctive, over the top or just flat-out ugly will come down to your personal preferences, but standing out in such a crowded segment can’t be a bad thing.
A decent hatchback needs to be practical, comfortable and durable. The good news for potential Civic buyers is that this car ticks those boxes.
The design revolution continues inside with a clean layout featuring a teared dashboard. Switchgear is kept to a minimum by the 7-inch touchscreen, although key controls such as air-con are still traditional buttons and switches for ease of use while driving. The instrument binnacle is divided into three with a customisable digital display taking centre stage. The modern feel of this interior is emphasised by the coloured mood lighting that comes on every model.
Front seats provide good support thanks to sizeable bolsters, and top specification Prestige trim gets plush heated leather seats. The seating position is great, with the driver sat low in the chassis and a highly adjustable steering wheel means that everyone should be able to get comfy.
It has become such a cliche to say that Hondas are well built but it certainly seems to be the case with the Civic, which feels very well screwed together. It’s a big reason why the brand has such loyal customers, and something that will make this Civic popular with young families. Material quality is good, although harsher plastics can be found lower in the cabin.
The Honda Civic puts many of its competitors to shame when it comes to practicality. Wide opening doors and plenty of storage around the cabin will make it easy to live with.
Rear passengers have plenty of leg room to stretch out on long journeys, but the sloping roofline does reduce headroom in the back. The middle seat is on the skinny side too, but a reduced hump in the floor is less of an obstacle.
Open the hatchback to reveal a huge boot with underfloor storage to hide valuables, however, Sport trim cars with their central exhaust lose this practicality. 478-litres of space trumps the Ford Focus’ 316-litres and bests the Volkswagen Golf by 98-litres. Only the Skoda Octavia boasts more boot room. Retract the blind-like parcel shelf and fold the 60/40 seats flat to open up a vast 1,580-litres. There is a small load-lip to hurdle, but at least the back seats fold away flush to make sliding stuff in easier.
All models receive things like automatic lights with auto high beam function, hill start assist and parking sensors all-around, so kit levels aren’t bad from the get-go.
Higher trim levels get the Honda Connect 7-inch touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Using the phone functionality is a good way to escape the not-so-ergonomic software the infotainment system uses. The screen itself is responsive, but you frequently have to jump through menus to find what you’re looking for.
An eight speaker sound system does a good job in most trims, but if you really love your music you’ll find a more powerful eleven speaker system in EX, Sport Plus and Prestige cars.
Honda Sensing is a safety system fitted standard across the range that incorporates lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation. That’s more safety tech at no cost than offered in most rivals.
There are three engines on to choose from, a 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre petrol, as well as a 1.6-litre diesel. Power ranges from 118bhp to 179bhp with the option of manual or CVT transmissions, so there’s something for everyone.
The turbocharged 1.0-litre is a little gem and gives Ford’s EcoBoost equivalent a run for its money in terms of responsiveness. There’s not much in the way of turbo lag and its enthusiastic performance won’t leave you wanting. Pair it with a slick six-speed manual gearbox and you’ll have a winning combination. This 127bhp unit is very quiet at idle and only really makes itself known when left to venture higher into the rev range.
A larger 1.5-litre petrol engine provides the Civic with 179bhp — however, it’s only available on Sport, Sport Plus and Prestige trims. You can feel it has a bit more grunt from the off and it’s a better choice if you’re doing motorway stints on the regular in a petrol. It can be had with the same manual box as the 1.0-litre, or a surprisingly good CVT. Yes, if you stomp on the throttle it will make that typical mooing noise CVTs tend to, but generally speaking this option is smooth and quiet. It even has a set of false ratios that simulate changing gear when a paddle shifter is pulled.
The only diesel you can have is a 1.6-litre — no bad thing as it’s our pick of the range. Honda has gone to great lengths to make sure this diesel meets the latest Euro6 emissions regulations and as a result it only produces 93g/km CO2. Performance is strong with only a little bit of lag preceding a surge of torque. Under load the engine gurgles as you might expect, but once up to cruising speed it’s hushed and makes for a great motorway hauler. A claimed 80mpg makes this the clear choice for anyone clocking mega mileage.
Handling and comfort
SE and SR grade cars have passive dampers that do a great job of dealing with rutted roads. Higher trims get adaptive dampers that you can switch between a softer or firmer setting dependent upon the road surface or how you’re driving. Left in Normal mode the ride is cosseting enough to get away with speccing the larger 17-inch alloy wheels of SR trim and up.
An overall feeling of stability emanates from the Civic when put through its paces. Firming up the adaptive dampers reduces body roll and there’s ample grip, too. It changes direction keenly, although the steering could do with more weight for added precision. The Civic acquits itself well, but it’s not the most involving car in the class. Those who enjoy a spirited drive should look in the direction of the VW Golf or Ford Focus, and a Golf will be quieter than the Civic at motorway speeds, too.
Around town the Civic’s light steering becomes an asset making the car easy to manoeuvre. Glancing out the back window you’ll notice this model’s signature split rear windscreen, and while a slimmer divide than in the past, it’s still an obstruction. Thankfully all but the base car receives a reversing camera as standard.
Engine choice: 1.6-litre i-DTEC
The Honda Civic didn’t initially receive the NCAP five star safety score, primarily due to a lower child occupant rating. However, it has since introduced a new side curtain airbag that has delivered the car a top five star rating.
Standard safety equipment includes a suite of airbags, traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist, a pair of Isofix points in the back and AEB. Blind spot monitoring is standard on Sport Plus models and above. A rear reversing camera comes on all modes barring entry level SE.
Honda Sensing combines adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and a collision mitigation braking system to try and keep the car out of harms way. Active Emergency Braking will not only attempt to prevent a Collision with another car, but it recognises pedestrians too.
Honda offers the Civic in a choice of seven colours ranging from black or grey to vibrant Rallye Red. Said red shade is actually the car’s standard colour with everything else being a £525 option. Our pick? Brilliant Sporty Blue looks great when the sun hits it and is definitely worth the extra spend.
If you really want your Honda Civic to stand out you could always option Black or Orange Line. These packs add coloured accents to the bodywork and dashboard.
The Civic can be had in six different trim levels starting at entry SE and working up to Prestige.
SE kicks things off and comes with all of the safety kit of the top-spec trim, and although it lacks a reversing camera it does have parking sensors front and rear. Most rivals don’t gift you Adaptive Cruise Control across the range but Honda bucks that trend.
SR gets you body-coloured door mirrors and a set of smart 17-inch alloy wheels. Inside this trim features added tech including the 7-inch touchscreen, reversing camera and dual zone climate control.
EX has a more luxurious focus, adding a premium audio and an opening glass roof for those sunnier days. Blind spot monitoring and cross traffic alerts are useful things to have when reversing out of a parking bay too. However, one of the most notable additions EX gets is adaptive dampers.
Sport mimics much of EX but has red interior mood lighting as well as more athletic bodywork. The reworked rear bumper hosts a dual-pipe central exhaust, but it’s worth noting that due to the exhaust being in the middle of the car, the underfloor storage disappears.
Sport Plus builds on Sport by including premium speakers, wireless phone charging and the glass roof from EX.
Prestige has all of the toys featured in lesser models but ditches the glossy black exterior details for some classy chrome. Leather heated seats for all on this top of the range trim.
Size and Dimensions
Max towing weight unbraked
One reason you might be looking at a hatchback as opposed to the current trend of SUVs is fuel economy. Honda provides three well-judged engine choices in the Civic, each with respectable MPG figures.
The most efficient car in the range, according to official figures, is the 1.6-litre diesel with a claimed 80mpg. That bests both diesels offered in the Volkswagen Golf and Ford’s 1.5-litre TDCI in the Focus, and it emits fewer CO2 emissions at 93g/km CO2.
If petrol is more your thing then the three-cylinder 1.0-litre claims just shy of 59mpg, matching the Ford EcoBoost engine. The larger 1.5-litre engine in the Civic is said to return 48.7mpg and emit 113g/km CO2 making it as frugal as Ford’s 1.5, and with better emissions.
Reliability and servicing
Honda has become a byword for reliability with bullet proof motoring being one of the main reasons people keep coming back for more. The brand is consistently near the top of reliability surveys, so buy with confidence.
Every Honda gets a three-year 90,000 mile warranty, but an extended warranty is also offered. £850 covers you for year 4 and 5 with each additional year (up to 8 years) coming to £400. You can make a saving by bulk-buying warranty, 36 months for £940 for example.
Honda customer service is also well regarded, so if something does go wrong, odds are you’ll be looked after.
Traditionally Hondas have been a little pricier than mainstream rivals, but due to recent price hikes by Ford, the Civic now represents good value, especially when you factor in equipment.
The range kicks off at under £19k which is just a bit more than the most basic Golf (although the entry Civic is better equipped) but cheaper than the £20k plus that Ford now demands for a Focus.
This generation Civic, just like the one before it, is expected to hold its value well. That means competitive PCP finance rates of around £260 a month with a £2,000 deposit. The most basic Golf comes in at around £300 while a Focus is £280.
Being competitive on price and equipment makes the Civic a tempting proposition, even more so when you factor in the brand’s dependability.
Company car buyers rejoice as the diesel Civic falls into the lowest diesel tax band, and the potential fuel savings speak for themselves. Those in the 20% tax bracket are looking at around £76 a month for 2018/19 as opposed to £85 and £87 for the Focus and Golf respectively.
However, the cheapest model in terms of BIK is the 1.0-litre petrol, coming out at just over £71 for the same period. How many miles you cover will determine whether the fuel or tax saving is better for you.
Equivalent 1.5-litre options reveal the Civic and Focus to be about on par, but the Golf offers the best rates with 24% vs a Civic’s 27%. That said, the Volkswagen’s engine is not as powerful.
Prestige comes with all of the toys, but tech-fans will appreciate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto being standard on all cars bar the entry model.
Entry level SE trim comes with plenty of standard equipment including an array of safety kit.
Prestige give you full leather heated seats, not to mention some chrome trim to separate your car from lesser models.
Arguably the best handling car in its class, but it’s comparably expensive these days and is due for replacement soon.
A more desirable badge, plusher cabin and great refinement sets the Golf apart from rivals.
An improvement over Leons of old and seriously competitive on most fronts; good value and practical.
A good value alternative, although it lacks the polish of some rivals.
A big boot, lengthy standard kit list and decent PCP give the 308 real appeal, but rear passenger legroom is limited.