Living with the… Honda Civic

Living with the… Honda Civic
Living with the… Honda Civic

Lots of kit and lots of visual appeal for Honda’s refreshed hatch – but what’s it like to live with?

In answer to a fair bit of criticism aimed at the outgoing model, Honda has thrown everything at the new 10th-generation Civic. It has the distinction of being the most expensively developed Honda road car in history.

With extra length, extra width, less height and a less divisive look inside and out, there’s definitely something attention-grabbing (if not classically handsome) about the new car.

In terms of driving appeal, the old Civic was never really up to par with its generally excellent rivals, so this car has had a full chassis rethink, with a greater distance between the wheels on either side and more clever suspension, plus new engines promising enhanced performance and economy.

We’ll be running one for the next six months to see if the new Civic actually is better all round than its predecessor. As all of the world’s five-door Civics are being built in Swindon, we went over there to pick ours up.

Initial impressions of our Rallye Red SR-trim car with black alloy wheels, grille and detailing were distinctly favourable. No Civic is poorly equipped, with stacks of standard safety features like automatic emergency city braking and lane departure warning. SR cars have such nice touches as 17-inch alloys, dual zone climate control, a seven-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, and a rear parking camera.

 

The old Civic’s unconventional interior is gone, and that’s a good thing. The new instrument cluster is much easier to look at and use than the slightly bewildering dual-level dash. You still have to look through a rear window that’s partially obstructed by a bar, so we’d elevate the rear-view camera to something nearer a necessity than a luxury. At least that bar is thinner than before.

The driving position is much lower and more sporty feeling, and although the seatback angle is adjusted by a rather old-school ratchet lever rather than a rotary knob, you won’t have any difficulty in finding a good set-up. The family is well looked after too, thanks to generous space (if not massive headroom) in the rear compartment. The boot is enormous, and its false floor concealing an additional storage area will be handy for preventing the leaping around of supermarket bags.

There are two engines available in the launch phase. Ours is 127bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit, which posts an official 55.4mpg and 117g/km of CO2. The other choice is a 1.5-litre four, with a 1.6-litre diesel and a Type R hot hatch due to join the fray.

Even with such an apparently tiny powerplant our Civic moves along the road in an entirely acceptable manner, even fully loaded. Add a compliant ride, not much body roll, accurate steering and an oily gearchange and the result is a package that delivers on many fronts. This could be a welcome return to form for a company revered for its engineering prowess but suffering of late with lukewarm products.

 

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