The styling of Hondas latest Civic might be space-age, but a petrol-powered, five door hatchback with a manual transmission is just about as unremarkable as family cars get these days.
In a world of downsized diesels, dual clutch transmissions, and coupe-style rooflines, its refreshing to step into a car more like cars used to be – but is the Civic too ordinary for its own good?
The new Civic has lost some of the clean lines and eye-catching details of the previous car, but it still stands out among current hatchbacks and manages to look sporty even in mid-range ES trim.
In white paint, there’s even a hint of Hondas championship-leading British Touring Car racer about it, which can’t hurt.
The interior isn’t too far removed from the previous Civic, though the new, three-pod instrument cluster looks a little busy compared to the old curved panel. You still get a central tachometer though, and a high-set speedo which is easy to read at a glance. The steering wheel is chunky and the raised gear lever easy to reach, which combined with comfortable seats makes for a relaxing, ergonomic cabin.
Rear seat and boot space are impressive too, while rearward visibility has been improved over the previous car – though it’d be better still without the split-level window design.
To drive, the Civic is less exciting than the styling would lead you to expect, though as a simple family conveyance it’s hard to criticise.
Ride quality is better than before, while refinement from this cars 1.8-litre, 140 bhp petrol engine cant be faulted. Its happy to spin to the red line too, though expect the quoted 47.1 mpg average economy to suffer if you do. The car has an Econ button to improve efficiency, but we’d urge you to avoid pressing it – throttle response is languid when you do. It makes you drive harder to compensate, negating the efficiency benefits.
You’ll not find much steering feel but the rack is light and precise, adjectives which can be better applied to the slick gearbox too. And with change-up signals encouraging economical driving, we averaged over 40 mpg on our brief drive, which took in motorway and open A-roads.
Price as tested: 19,380
Combined mpg: 47.1
CO2: 143 g/km
So is the Civic too ordinary? Actually, no. The uniquely-styled interior and quirky exterior help it stand out from others in the class, and while it’s a long way from matching hot hatchbacks out on the road, its certainly easy and pleasant enough to drive.
However, if you only ever do short journeys the 1.4 Civic may be a better, cheaper, more economical bet, while those after a more suitable motorway car could consider the 2.2 diesel – or even wait for the sub-100g/km 1.6 diesel due soon.
For more information check out our full summary of the Honda Civic alongside reviews, stats, photos and videos!