Driving

Honda Civic review

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Honda Civic
Review continues below...
2 Feb 2017 14:52 | Last updated: 21 Aug 2018 14:52

In this review

Driving

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Honda Civic hatchback performance

The Civic may have a limited range of engines, but there’s not a bad one among them.

Indeed, the 127bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine is all you really need; it delivers perfectly adequate acceleration from low revs and will complete the 0-60mph dash in a respectable 10.5sec. However, despite having more power than equivalent 1.0-litre versions of the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3, the heavier Civic is actually slightly slower than those rivals.

The 1.5 is, unsurprisingly, faster and has more low-down pulling power – although it doesn’t actually feel drastically quicker on the road. Given that it's also quite a bit less efficient, we wouldn't bother spending the extra.

The 1.6 diesel, on the other hand, is impressively frugal, returning 80.7mpg on the combined cycle and producing just 93g/km of CO2. In fact, on paper these figures make it cleaner and more frugal than Skoda and VW equivalents. With just 118bhp, acceleration doesn’t feel particularly strong, but it’s quick enough for a car in this class and could be a good choice for company car buyers.

Honda Civic hatchback ride

The Civic doesn't ride as smoothly as a Golf (few cars do), but it's actually pretty comfortable by class standards. All trims apart from EX, Sport Plus and Prestige have regular 'passive' suspension, which delivers a largely settled ride that doesn't get caught out too badly by potholes. Even so, it's best to resist the temptation to add optional larger alloys.

Meanwhile, the posher trim levels ride on adaptive dampers, meaning you can stiffen and soften the suspension at the touch of a button. Bumps are dealt with suitably well in the softer setting, but switch to the firmer mode and you feel too much of road imperfections as they pass beneath the car.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic hatchback handling

Broadly speaking, the Civic handles well by family car standards. It doesn't grip the road quite as well as a Golf but it stays upright through tight twists and turns, and steers precisely.

However, tackle a corner with any vigour and you’ll wish the steering weighted up more consistently to help you gauge how well the front tyres are gripping. That's the main reason the Civic isn't as fun to drive as a Golf, A3 or Ford Focus.

Around town, the Civic is relatively easy to manoeuvre, although it does have a slightly larger turning circle than some of its rivals.

Honda Civic hatchback refinement

While the 1.0 petrol engine is a reasonably strong performer, it isn't as refined as we'd like; it's a bit raucous when you work it hard and sends too many vibrations through the soles of your feet. Put simply, 1.0-litre versions of the Golf and A3 are noticeably smoother and quieter.

The 1.5 petrol unit is more restrained, remaining quieter and smoother when you put your foot down, although it does begin to sound strained if you rev it really hard.

Unsurprisingly, the diesel is the nosiest of the bunch. Fire it up and it clatters a little at idle, while on the move engine noise grates while accelerating. Thankfully, at a cruise it manages to be far more hushed, but it’s still more vocal than its German oil-burning rivals.

Honda's six-speed manual gearbox is light and positive, although the brake pedal is a bit spongy.

Road and wind noise at motorway speeds is noticeable, too. There isn't enough to really annoy, but the rival Golf and Focus are considerably more peaceful cruisers.

 

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There are 9 trims available for the Civic hatchback. Click to see details.See all versions
S
Entry-level S trim isn't worth considering because you don't even get a radio or air conditioning. Besides, the price premium to upgrade to SE trim is tiny...View trim
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SE
Worth considering if you want to keep things relatively basic. Over and above entry-level S trim, SE gets you an AM/FM/DAB radio, air conditioning, alloy wheels and front and rear parking sensors...View trim
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SR
SR trim is our pick. Over SE trim, this adds a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, automatic wipers, driver seat lumbar adjustment, power mirrors and a reversing camera for not a lot more...View trim
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Sport
Sport is the cheapest trim available on the more powerful 1.5 petrol engine. It adds heated seats, a sporty bodykit, twin centre exhausts and LED headlights...View trim
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EX
EX trim adds extra safety kit including blindspot monitoring, plus you also get keyless entry and start, leather seats, adaptive dampers, passenger seat lumbar adjustment and a sunroof...View trim
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Sport Plus
Everything you get with Sport trim, plus a sunroof, keyless entry, heated front seats, blindspot monitoring and a more powerful stereo. Too pricey to really recommend...View trim
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Prestige
Range-topping Prestige gets a leather interior, rear heated seats and some chrome accents. There’s much better value to found further down the range, though...View trim
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Type R
In Type R form, the Civic is well equipped but doesn’t get as much kit as cheaper mainstream models. You get climate control, four electric windows, DAB radio, a rear parking camera and a touchscre...View trim
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OUR PICK
Type R GT
In Type R GT guise, the Civic blends formidable performance with a degree of luxury, for a price. Additions to standard Type R trim include dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, front and rear parkin...View trim
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