The latest Civic is a spacious all-hybrid all-rounder ready to take on the mighty Focus, Golf and Corolla
1972 should not be a bad year for the car world. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the Lancia Stratos and the Maserati Merak all came out to knock petrolheads’ socks off. But this year also saw the arrival of more mainstream and significant models. Cars like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Honda Civic whose names are still going strong half a century later.
The Civic was Honda’s first car in the UK, and while a lot has changed over the past few years, the core purpose of the model hasn’t changed. So, despite the new looks and tech, this 11th generation is still a mainstream family hatchback designed to compete with Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308, Seat Leon and Toyota Corolla.
From the outside, the 11th generation is obviously an evolution of the previous car, but underneath there have been significant structural changes to make the car lighter and stronger, as well as a major move from pure petrol and diesel engines to a single full hybrid powertrain.
The new Civic is marginally longer and wider than the old car, with a slightly lower roofline and shorter overhangs, but there are very clear ties to the 10th generation car. After the wild styling of the 8th and 9th generations, the 10th and 11th generations have settled into a more conservative look that’s in line with most of their competitors.
The most obvious difference is found in the interior, where the extended wheelbase is dedicated solely to improving rear legroom. That’s great news for passengers, and the Civic’s rear passenger compartment feels a lot roomier than most C-segment hatchbacks. Front-seat occupants receive a similar level of space and comfort, with plenty of leg and shoulder room and an overall feeling of openness evoked by the cabin’s relatively simple design.
Honda is making a big deal with the “man-maximum, machine-minimum” technique. In practice, that means keeping things simple for the driver, allowing the dashboard and controls to offer a welcome ease of use. There’s no giant jumble of buttons, but the Civic doesn’t just rely on its 9-inch touchscreen for everything. In that regard, it’s closer to the exemplary Mazda3, with obvious, tactile controls for key functions, than the VW Group’s disastrous reliance on touchscreens.
It might not quite match the Mazda’s premium feel, but the materials are quite on par with a Focus or Golf, and details like the honeycomb dashboard grille bring an unusual and interesting touch. The only interior misstep is the cruise selector, carried over from the CR-V, which looks like it was sourced from Fisher-Price.
In the press material for the new Civic, Honda fiddles around with words like “exhilarating” to describe the driving experience that feels like a track. Competent is probably more accurate. Like the previous model, it certainly drives pretty well, but it’s not as sharp as a Ford Focus or Mazda3. Steering is accurate but doesn’t feel as immediate or as communicative as its best rivals. Instead there’s a definite bias towards comfort with really good cushioning, a smooth ride and decent body control. But like its predecessor, there’s a hint in the regular car that something far sharper and more engaging is waiting to be unlocked in the new Type R.
The same cannot be said for the engine. The Type R will get a pure petrol engine, while the regular Civic will get a hybrid, completing Honda’s move to a fully electrified mainstream range. This setup doesn’t lend itself to a hot hatch, instead putting it head-to-head with the impressive Toyota Corolla – the only other full hybrid hatchback in the C-segment.
While the old car could choose between economical 1.0-litre or sporty 1.5-litre petrol engines and an economical 1.6-litre diesel, the new model only has one engine and transmission choice. According to Honda, the new 2.0-liter e:HEV full hybrid offers the economy of the 1.0, the power of the 1.5 and the torque of the diesel.
So the four-cylinder engine and two electric motors together produce 181 hp and 232 lb ft and offer 0 to 100 km/h acceleration in 7.8 seconds. Economy is between 56 and 60mpg (depending on trim level) and emissions are as low as 108g/km.
The engine and transmission – an E:CVT that Honda’s top tech pointed out “is not a transmission” – are related to the setup in the CR-V and HR-V, but have been redesigned to deliver more power, to provide torque and response.
On the road, even with the electric motor, the Civic isn’t instantaneous, but it picks up speed fairly quickly and you don’t feel like it’s lacking in power or torque. Depending on the driving conditions, the hybrid switches between its three modes unnoticed, using electric power for slow driving, pure petrol for consistently high speeds, and a combination of both in high-demand and heavy-acceleration situations.
To counter criticism of many hybrids, Honda designed the powertrain with “linear shift control.” This mimics the rev drop when shifting in a manual car to create a more “soothing” acceleration sound, rather than the rubber band rumble often associated with hybrids. It can’t completely hide the characteristics of the e:CVT, but it’s a notable improvement over the CR-V and HR-V.
Thanks to good soundproofing, the roar is less noticeable anyway, so you only really hear the engine at full throttle, making the Civic a pleasant long-distance cruiser.
When it goes on sale later this year, the Civic will be available in three trim levels – Elegance, Sport and Advance, with prices starting at £29,595.
All models feature 17-inch alloy wheels, a 9-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone air conditioning, heated seats and the comprehensive Honda Sensing driver assistance suite. Sport (£30,595) adds gloss black trim and larger wheels, while the £32,995 Advance adds a 10.2-inch digital instrument display, 12-speaker Bose sound system, adaptive headlights, heated steering wheel and panoramic sunroof offers.
These prices reflect the added cost of the hybrid powertrain and relatively high standard specification, but pit even entry-level Civics against higher-end alternatives from Ford and VW. However, a similarly equipped and powered Corolloa is about the same money.
That price difference might argue against the Civic, but it’s working hard to justify it. At first glance it feels like a very competent all-rounder worth considering against any other mainstream family hatchback. The powertrain delivers impressive economy and a smooth experience, while interior space and simplicity stand out in a crowded market.
Price: £32,995; Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder petrol engine, two electric motors; Perfomance: 181 hp; Torque: 232 pounds foot; Transmission: E CVT; Top speed: 112 miles per hour; 0-100km/h: 8.1 seconds; Business: 56.5mpg; CO2 emissions: 114g/km
https://www.nationalworld.com/lifestyle/cars/2022-honda-civic-review-price-specification-and-performance-rivals-hybrid-family-hatchback-3746739 2022 Honda Civic Review: Price, Spec and Hybrid Performance