The Honda Civic has a fierce reputation in the hatchback world. The new model certainly strengthens its standing here. With incredible fuel economy, stunning good looks and impeccable reliability, it’s one of the best in class. Although it’s not quite as fun as the rival Ford Focus, it is the perfect balance between performance and economy. If it’s fun you’re after, then don’t fret, the Civic Type R will follow later this year. We can almost feel the excitement building for the return of the classic hot hatchback.
Until then, we got our hands on the standard model and put it through its paces. This fantastic little hatchback did not disappoint. The hatchback category is perhaps the most competitive in the world of motoring. It must be practical, spacious, economic, but fun and powerful. It has to walk a fine line of practicality as a family car and speed as an introductory model. It is a category that has traditionally been dominated by the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf. Does the new Honda Civic stand up to these two giants? It’s certainly not far behind.
Before we get stuck into the finer details of the Civic, let’s look at the competition. As we mentioned, the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf are the leaders of the pack. For well over two decades, these two cars have been the best of the best. They are modestly priced, practical but bucket loads of fun too. This is particularly true when it comes to the ‘hot hatchbacks’. These are the high performance versions of the small cars. No-one has quite crafted a small vehicle like the Focus ST and the Golf GTi. Except one. The Honda Civic Type R is the only hot hatch that has ever come close to taking the crown. So, now you know the competition, let’s look at the Civic in detail.
The first thing you notice about the Honda Civic is its styling. It’s quite simply the best looking hatchback on the market. It is smooth, sleek and it curves in all the right places. It has that fierce grill that snarls at the road and those angular headlamps that mean business! It might double as a family car, but that certainly doesn’t compromise on style. Often, when cars are this sleek, there is a compromise on boot space and practicality. As we’ll see further down, this isn’t the case with the Civic. It’s just a stunning car.
The diesel engine
One of our favourite things about the new Civic is its simple engine range. There are two standard petrol engines to choose from and one diesel engine. We think most buyers will opt for the diesel engine due to its fantastic fuel economy. The 1.6 litre engine will produce a whopping 78 miles to the gallon. It is clean too with emissions so low it qualifies for zero road tax. Expect this car to be hugely popular for business leasing and contract hire with Listers for this reason. It’s cheap at the pumps and it’s cheap on the road tax and insurance. What more could you ask for?
The petrol engines
The petrol engines are a little thirstier with a choice between the 1.4 and the 1.8 litre. You won’t get that fantastic 78 mpg of the diesel and your running costs will be a little higher. However, you will unlock a bit more power and excitement from the petrol engines. They’re also about £1,000 cheaper up front too. There is a downside with the petrol engine though. While the diesel version is best in class for fuel economy, the petrol engines struggle to match their rivals at Ford and VW.
Drive and performance
Enough about the fuel economy, how will these engines perform on the road? The answer isn’t quite as simple as we’d have hoped. The drive is certainly comfortable and quiet. It makes the Civic a great family runaround. It will handle the long motorway drives and the city roads with equal comfort. However, if you plan on opening it up and letting it rip, it’s not quite as fun as the Ford Focus. That is, until the Type R is released next year.
The Type R
The current Honda Civic range is fairly modest. As we mentioned there are two petrol engines and that fantastic diesel model. However, we’ve got our eye firmly fixed on the Type R which is set to join the range later this year. The Honda Civic Type R has a strong reputation in the world of high performance hot hatchbacks. It is the only hot hatch to ever rival the Ford Focus and Fiesta ST and the Golf GTi. Unfortunately, it disappeared from the market with a long hiatus. This year it’s back with a huge 290 brake horsepower and a powerful engine. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel of this one.
With the new Civic, Honda have really set their stall in the family market. This is solidified with their reliability rating. It is, by far, the most reliable in the hatchback class. With an unrivaled warranty and strong reputation, it makes good sense to invest in one. Not only that, but it comes with a five star Euro NCAP safety rating. It has some of the best safety features on the planet. As we said, a great family car.
The true test of a great family car is practicality. The Civic has it in abundance. It has the biggest boot on the hatchback market. Not only that but you’ll be discovering its hidden storage compartments for years!
We were very impressed with the interior spec on the Civic. It comes complete with climate control as standard and plenty of other gadgets. It’s not quite as well-equipped as the Golf, but it’s heads and shoulders above the rest.
With the new Civic, Honda have crafted a beautiful all-round family car. It’s practical, reliable and one of the most economical vehicles on the road. You’ll compromise on fun and excitement compared to the Focus and the Golf. However, if it’s fun you’re after, just wait until the Type R joins the range later this year. All in all, a brilliant hatchback!