The Honda Civic has been around for decades – since 1972 to be exact – and now in its tenth generation, the completely redeveloped family-sized hatchback seems well equipped to take the fight to the class-leading Ford Focus and VW Golf.
The Civic’s unique looks and interesting angles have always helped it stand out from the crowd, and that’s the case yet again with a model that is lighter, longer, lower and wider than its predecessor. Stretching for just short of 4.5 metres, it has the longest wheelbase in the European C-segment, at 2.7 metres.
Other notable changes are the extended back-end, an all-new platform and a new seven-inch touchscreen that replaces many of the dials from the previous version, helping tidy up what used to be an overly-cluttered dashboard.
Honda will also debut two new turbocharged petrol engines in this Civic – a single-litre three-cylinder unit and a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, both of which will be available with a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.
But what did the British motoring press make of the reborn hatch during recent test drives?
Auto Express was impressed, giving it four out of five stars and applauding its transition ‘from a sub-standard family hatchback to a genuine class contender’.
Despite bemoaning the lack of a diesel or hybrid option, AE were happy with the two new petrols, hailing them as efficient, powerful and refined.
They noted a big improvement on how the hatchback drove, which is down in part to the all-new platform. Interior quality wasn’t up to the standard of the VW Golf but they commented on how well-built and kitted out it felt.
Also gifting it four stars, Autocar felt that the Civic wasn’t any more engaging to drive than its lacklustre predecessor and was saddened that a car that usually tried to be different had been replaced by one so conservative.
However, over their half-hour test drive, they felt the biggest change was the driving position. With the fuel tank no longer beneath the front seats, the driver’s hip joint has been lowered by 35mm. This might not seem much but it means the driver feels less perched up at the wheel and allows more headroom.
Again, it fell short when trying to outdo its more premium rivals with Autocar disappointed by the mostly hard plastics and a button layout that wasn’t as skillfully arranged as in the Audi A3.
Autocar admitted that the car’s target market would be more bothered about practicality than fancy buttons and in that sense, the Civic delivers. The larger dimensions mean that rear passengers have plenty of leg- and headroom, while the 478 litres of boot space is almost class-leading.
Following suit, Top Gear gave it eight out of ten and reckoned the Civic was now ‘close to class best in many ways’.
They said the new 1.0-litre petrol packed enough to scale hills but suffered lag across the rev range. However, they found the 1.5-litre option to be impressively lively, doing 0-62mph in little more than eight seconds.
AOL Cars probably felt the reviews so far have been too picky because they said the new Civic was ‘hard to fault’, labelling it as ‘civilised and well-specified’ with the small engines surprisingly punchy.
Ride was composed and relaxed about town with well-weighted steering, they added, yet it managed to almost completely cut out body roll when pushed at higher speeds.
The general consensus
So overall, the tenth-generation Civic is widely considered to be a massive leap forward on the previous model. It remains one of the most eye-catching fixtures in the C-segment but seems to be one of the easiest to live with, too.
The promise of the high-performance Type-R in autumn 2017, boasting around 330-340bhp, suggests the best new Civic is yet to come…