What's the used Honda Civic hatchback like?
It’s fair to say that Honda threw the kitchen sink at this 10th-generation Civic in 2017, having been stung by criticism that the previous model was not competitive with its rivals in a number of key areas.
Hence here is a car that is longer, lower and wider than the ninth-generation car, with more room between the front and rear wheels for passengers, as well as a range of new engines and a more sophisticated rear suspension.
Its looks are as striking as they are divisive, and its interior quality is thankfully much improved on the older version. It all adds up to a truly impressive car that not only cuts a dash in the family hatchback class but also meets its closest rivals head-on in nearly every area.
Initially, you could choose from three turbocharged petrol engines: a fruity and efficient 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit, a punchy 1.5-litre four-cylinder or the super-sporty 2.0-litre engine in the explosive Type R hot-hatch model. In 2018, Honda also introduced a frugal 1.6-litre diesel. You could match any of these engines, with the exception of the 2.0, with an automatic gearbox, should you wish to.
In 2018 the Civic hatchback was joined by the four-door Civic saloon. The Civic saloon’s swooping roofline was lengthened to create a tail and a style that’s a neat alternative to the hatchback. Another happy result is an increase in boot capacity from 478 litres to 519. The engineers also took the opportunity to soften its suspension.
The model range kicks off with the entry-level S version, which is very basic (it doesn't even get a radio or air conditioning); this version was dropped soon after it was launched, though, due to slow sales. The SE is much more appealing, with a DAB radio, air conditioning and front and rear parking sensors.
SR then adds a leather-trimmed steering wheel, automatic wipers and a reversing camera, while EX gives you a package of extra safety equipment, keyless go and a leather interior. Then there's the Sport version, which adds heated seats, a sportier bodykit and LED headlights, and also a Sport Plus and Sport Line version, added in 2019, while top-of-the-range Prestige gives you a full leather interior and heated rear seats.
The saloon offers the 1.0-litre petrol engine and the 1.6-litre diesel unit as options, combined with initially SE, SR and EX trims, although later the first two options were dropped and only the EX was sold.
On the road, the 124bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine is very impressive; it delivers perfectly adequate acceleration from low revs and will complete the 0-60mph dash in a reasonable 10.7sec. 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.
Naturally, with 180bhp, the 1.5-litre offering is faster and has more low-down pulling power – although it doesn’t actually feel dramatically quicker on the road. Likewise, the 1.6 diesel has just 118bhp so its acceleration doesn’t feel particularly strong. All engines give you the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed automatic. The manual is light and positive but the automatic version tends to hold the engine at high revs even when you aren't accelerating particularly hard.
The Civic rides well, with a largely settled ride comfort, and its neutral handling is safe, secure and, helped by its quick steering and slick gearchange, bordering on the positively good fun. Only in the area of refinement is it let down, with quite a lot of engine noise and some road noise making itself known at higher speeds. The former is exacerbated in the automatic version.
The interior is more than spacious enough for four or even five for occasional journeys, while the boot is a good size in either hatch or saloon and has a useful false floor. The low driving position is excellent, the dashboard is clear and logically laid out and the controls are pleasingly weighted and feel of a high quality – as do most of the interior plastics. Only the Civic's dated infotainment system lets it down, with old-fashioned graphics and a slothful touchscreen.