What Car? says...
As a year for memorable launches, 1972 was a good one. The Godfather movie hit big screens, the TV soap Emmerdale Farm (as it was known then) hit small screens – and the fuel-sipping Honda Civic hatchback made its debut.
They’re all still familiar names today, and while the latest, 11th-generation Civic looks very different from the original three-door model, fuel efficiency remains one of its core values. Indeed, the most significant development can be found under its bonnet, where you’ll find a self-charging hybrid engine. This places the Civic right up against the hybrid-only Toyota Corolla as its most direct rival.
Read on through this suitably thorough Honda Civic review to find out whether the latest version deserves to be at the top of your list if you're considering buying a family car; we’ll tell you how it compares with the key rivals we mentioned above, including how it drives, how much space there is inside and which trim levels we think make the most sense.
If at the end you decide that the Civic ticks all the right boxes for you – or, indeed, you decide to buy another vehicle of any make and model – we can help you save thousands of pounds simply by using the free What Car? New Car Buying service. You'll find plenty of great Honda Civic deals with no awkward haggling.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Start pressing on and a digitised engine note designed to be reminiscent of older, sportier Hondas is piped through the front speakers for added theatre. Despite this, the Civic is far from thrilling, but it feels more like a conventional petrol to drive than the Corolla (which can feel a bit wheezy at times). All Civic engines come with an automatic gearbox. Performance fans waiting for the Civic Type R hot hatch variant will have to wait until early next year.
We’ve tested the top two trim levels of the Civic, both of which come with 18in wheels as standard. While the ride quality has a slightly firm edge to it when dealing with rutted road surfaces, the suspension remains settled and rounds off bumps nicely. A Skoda Octavia or Toyota Corolla is more forgiving, but the Civic is still pretty comfortable by family car class standards.
Besides, the Civic has decent handling for a family car, feeling quite nimble to drive compared with either of those rivals. We reckon this minor compromise in ride quality will be worthwhile for those looking for a bit of fun on their commute.
Around town the Civic is relatively easy to manoeuvre, but it does have a slightly larger turning circle than some of its rivals. Out of town it stays pretty upright through tight twists and turns, and the hefty steering is precise.
Settle down to a cruise and the smooth petrol engine in the Civic remains hushed, while the electric motors don’t produce any noticeable whine. There is a little wind noise around the windows as you head towards motorway speeds, but road noise is suppressed well enough to prevent it from being tiring over longer journeys; in short, the Civic is a noticeable step up in refinement to the already-quiet Corolla.
We’d recommend avoiding top-spec Advance models, though; the large glass sunroof they come equipped with causes the interior noise to resonate at motorway speeds. It’s not deafening, but lower spec models are far more serene without it.