What Car? says...
Sometimes when you’re caught up in the whirlwind of family life, it pays to keep things simple – and that's something the Honda Civic does very well indeed.
This latest Civic – the 11th-generation model – has just one engine option (unless you go for the Civic Type R hot hatch), one bodystyle (a five-door hatchback) and two trim levels to choose from. That might sound rather restrictive, but what you do get covers all the family car bases very well.
Which is no surprise, really: Honda has been designing and building Civics even longer than What Car? has been testing them (half a century and counting...) and the original version caught on with a little help from the oil crisis of the early Seventies.
You see, by the standards of its day, the original Civic positively sipped petrol, making it ideally suited to the time. The current model is, of course, much bigger – but fuel efficiency remains one of its core values.
Under the bonnet, you’ll find a 2.0-litre petrol engine, but because this is a hybrid car, that engine is supported by a small battery pack and an electric motor. That allows for some electric-only driving, and helps to reduce fuel consumption and emissions without requiring you to plug in your car to charge, as you do with a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
It’s a similar principle to the hybrid set-up used in the Toyota Corolla – a close rival of the Civic. If you want another family car that can travel on electricity alone, you’ll need to look at more expensive PHEV rivals, including versions of the Audi A3, the Skoda Octavia and the VW Golf.
So, should you buy a Honda Civic? Well, that's what we'll help you decide in this review. We'll cover all the important areas, from performance and handling to boot size and running costs, and tell you how it compares with rivals. We'll also tell you which trim level we think makes most sense.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The e:HEV hybrid set-up is the only engine available in the regular Honda Civic, and produces a healthy 181bhp. There should be enough performance for most buyers: we managed 0-60mph in 6.8sec during our testing, which is comfortably quicker than any Toyota Corolla.
There’s little need for the Civic's 2.0-litre petrol engine to chime in around town, and when it does, accelerating up to higher speeds is effortless. The single-speed automatic gearbox always maintains smooth progress.
The engine is much quieter than the 1.5-litre unit in the Honda HR-V family SUV (which has a similar hybrid system) and wind noise is well muffled. Unfortunately, there's a fair amount of road roar on a motorway, exacerbated by the panoramic glass sunroof fitted to range-topping Advance models. As a result, the Corolla and the VW Golf are quieter at a 70mph cruise.
The Civic has a more settled ride than the Seat Leon FR Sport fitted with the same size – 18in – alloy wheels. If you want maximum comfort, you’ll need to look at either the Corolla or Golf, which are available with smaller wheels and are even more supple.
At least the ride on those 18in wheels improves at higher speeds. While the Civic isn't as enthusiastic about turning in to corners as the Ford Focus or the Leon, it’s still fairly good fun to drive because it grips well and the meaty steering is precise enough to let you place the car on the road with confidence.
The interior layout, fit and finish
You sit fairly low down in the Honda Civic, which gives it a sporty feel, and the comfortable driver's seat has electrically adjustable lumbar support. Adjusting the angle of the backrest is a bit more fiddly than in most family cars because you have to pull a lever and shift your weight back or forth.
Forward visibility is good because the windscreen pillars are slim and the dashboard is set low. The narrow, sloping rear pillars and large side windows minimise over-the-shoulder blind-spots. The Civic’s boot sticks out further than on many rivals, but all versions have a rear-view camera, and front and rear parking sensors, to help with reversing.
Powerful LED headlights are standard, and top-spec Advance trim brings an adaptive setup that can automatically adjust the light output so you can stay switched to main beams without dazzling other road users.
On entry-level Sport trim, the Civic has a 7.0in digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel accompanied by an analogue speedometer. Range-topping Advance has a full 10.2in display, which has sufficient clarity but can't show you a full-width sat-nav map like the digital display in the VW Golf can.
Both versions get a 9.0in touchscreen infotainment screen with built-in sat-nav in the centre of the dashboard. It’s not as user-friendly as the infotainment system in the BMW 1 Series or Mazda 3 but it's more intuitive than the Toyota Corolla and Golf systems. It’s also easy to operate the Civic’s air-con system because it has physical controls for adjustment, which is far less distracting to operate when you're driving than the touch-sensitive ones found in the Seat Leon and the Golf.
You get wired Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, plus two USB ports up front and an eight-speaker sound system. Wireless phone-charging is standard on all trim levels, while top-spec Advance trim gets a 12-speaker Bose stereo upgrade.
The Civic isn’t as plush inside as the 1 Series or Mazda 3, but it's still excellent by the standards of the family car class. Hard plastics are used lower down on the dashboard, but there are lots of soft-touch materials and attractive trim finishes. The knobs and buttons feel reassuringly expensive, and the honeycomb-look air vent across the dashboard is a smart touch too.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The driver and front-seat passenger get plenty of space in the Honda Civic, so even those measuring over six-feet tall won’t need to worry about head or leg room. The wide interior ensures there’s enough space for a pair of broad rugby players to not rub shoulders.
The glovebox is a decent size, and the front door bins can easily hold a large bottle of water each. The centre console contains a pair of cupholders, a large storage box and a tray that's ideal for phones.
Two six-footers sitting behind similarly tall front-seat occupants won’t have any complaints about rear leg room, but they might wish they had more head room. If you regularly carry tall adults in the back, you might want to consider the roomier Ford Focus or Seat Leon.
As with most family cars there's a large hump on the floor in front of the middle rear passenger, which robs them of some foot space.
Seating flexibility is nothing special, with 60/40 split-folding rear seats. The Civic has a bigger boot (410 litres) than the Toyota Corolla and VW Golf with space for six carry-on suitcases below its flexible load cover (which pulls out from the wall of the boot). It matches the Leon and beats the Vauxhall Astra by one case.
The downside is that, while the wide tailgate gives decent access, the lip at the boot entrance is quite high, which is a pain if you need to lift heavy items in and out. On the other hand, the presence of a 12V power socket and side-mounted hooks in the boot is useful.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
As an outright purchase, the Honda Civic sits towards the pricier end of the family car class, costing more than the BMW 1 Series M Sport and the entry-level VW Golf. That said, while it’s predicted to depreciate more quickly than those two models, it should hold its value better than pretty much every other rival, and there are usually tempting PCP finance deals available (see our New Car Deals pages for the latest offers).
Then there's its efficiency. The hybrid tech helped it to average around 60mpg in official tests, and we saw a respectable 49.5mpg when we put it through our True MPG test. Just bear in mind that the Toyota Corolla is even more frugal (50.5mpg in our test), while plug-in hybrid (PHEV) rivals can travel much further on battery power alone, and have lower company car tax rates.
The range starts with our recommended Sport trim, which has all the essentials including climate control, adaptive cruise control, heated front seats, privacy glass, 18in alloys, wireless phone-charging, parking sensors and all the infotainment goodies.
Stepping up to Advance trim adds a heated steering wheel, synthetic leather upholstery, an upgraded audio system and a panoramic glass roof, but we don't think it's worth the extra cost.
Honda finished a respectable 12th out of 32 manufacturers in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey and its three-year/90,000-mile warranty is slightly better than average (most brands cover you for 60,000 miles). The hybrid system comes with its own five-year/90,000-mile warranty.
You get a five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty on a Hyundai and a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty on a Kia. Toyota gives you up to 10 years/100,000-miles if you service your car at an approved centre.
Every Civic comes with a very impressive list of safety equipment, including 11 airbags, automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance, traffic-sign recognition and blind-spot monitoring. A pop-up bonnet is fitted to minimise the risk to pedestrians.
The Civic scored five stars out of five for safety when it was tested in 2022 by Euro NCAP – outperforming the Golf and comprehensively beating the Peugeot 308 and the Vauxhall Astra (both got four stars).
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The 1.05kWh battery pack used as part of the Civic's hybrid system is guaranteed by Honda for five years or 90,000 miles, although it should really last the lifetime of the car. As with most cars, the 12V battery that runs the lights and other electrical systems will need to be replaced every few years.
|RRP price range||£34,970 - £49,995|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||hybrid, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||34.4 - 60.1|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 90000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,737 / £3,619|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£3,474 / £7,237|