The new 10th-generation Honda Civic is designed to take a big slice of the family hatchback market.
It’s wider, longer and lower than the model it replaces, and has improved its practicality with more space for passengers and a bigger boot. Will this be enough to win over the masses?
At an exclusive preview of the new Civic at Honda’s factory in Swindon, Wiltshire, a team of What Car? readers gave their verdicts.
Drives: Skoda Yeti
‘I think the styling of this car differs a bit from the norm, but it’s not too different from the current Civic.
‘Interior quality is a big step up from the previous model. The new car feels more solidly put together and more soft-touch materials have been used. I think it’s actually on a par now with the Volkswagen Golf. However, the Civic’s interior is still a little bland; it wouldn’t hurt to brighten it up a bit.
‘At 5ft 10in tall, I’m very impressed with both head and leg room all-round. Even with the driver’s seat set all the way back, it’s still comfortable enough for two adults in the back to do a long journey. The front seats would benefit from a little more lumbar support, though.
‘It’s a pretty practical car – as well as plenty of space, the boot is respectably big. You can definitely see why people with families will be attracted to this car.
‘One of the most important aspects will be the price; as long as that’s right, this car will sell well.
‘An estate Tourer model would be an interesting concept, and I’d be very excited if there was a Type R variant.’
Drives: Toyota Yaris
‘Next year I’ll be buying a family hatchback. I’ve been looking at the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, but the Civic also appeals.
‘The styling in particular works well overall. There are a couple of fussy, overdone details, but the car looks different in a market where everything else looks the same.
‘On this Sport model, however, I don’t like the central twin exhausts, the rear bumpers and the unnecessary fake air vents that are dotted around the car.
‘The difference in interior quality between this and the Golf has narrowed from what it used to be, but there are still some hard plastics lurking inside the Civic.
‘The split boot floor you get on the standard Civic would appeal to me. I’d like to have a really flat load area because it will make loading and unloading much easier.
‘The new car is more practical than either of the preceding models; for example, the rear seat space is generous and the boot is a decent size. Visibility out of the back window is now better, too.’
Job: Design consultant
‘The new Civic is one of those cars that you look at and think, “What’s that?”. You wouldn’t guess what it was until you saw the Honda badge.
‘Although German-made cars might have stolen the march on styling, such as Audi, I like how striking this Civic is – looks wise, this new model could bring me back to the Civic, having owned a couple of older versions in the past.
‘The new car is bigger than I expected it to be, which is impressive. It would be interesting to know whether Honda is going to make a Tourer model as well, just to give you that extra boot space. If not, the hatchback is fine size-wise; it’s definitely still big enough for an average family.
‘I like the choice of the engines on offer. I was looking at the revised diesel initially, but one of the petrol options, a 1.5-litre with 180bhp, looks interesting, and the official fuel economy figure is good, which is tempting me because it’ll be cheaper to fill up.
‘If the new Civic drives just as well as any other Honda, then it’s in the running. Some say Hondas have quite a firm ride, but I’m happy with how they are set up.’
Job: Computer programmer
Drives: Honda Civic (’04, Mk7) Type S
‘Honda has done a good job on the car’s exterior design. Some will find it a bit fussy, but I think it works.
‘I wish the rear light bar had been taken a bit further across, though. On the coupé version [American market] the brake light runs all the way along, whereas on the model here it’s just in the centre, and the rest of it is a spoiler. It would have also made sense to incorporate the window-wiper into that spoiler, so that it doesn’t stand proud of it.
‘By making the car longer, Honda’s ‘magic seats’ [seats that spilt and fold to maximise space] have been lost. I reckon those people who have got used to them are going to miss them. However, that does give you more head room in the back – it’s more spacious in the rear seats than the old Civic. I’m just shy of six feet tall, and there’s enough head and leg room for me to be comfy. There are no dedicated air vents for those in the back, though, which is a shame.
‘I’m a huge fan of the dashboard, which seems to wrap around you. It’s got a horizontal metal element, which makes it look really sporty.
‘The touchscreen is also well positioned and easy to glance at while in the driver’s seat.’