Honda Civic review
The Honda Civic is impressively comfortable and is one of the most practical family cars around, although alternatives have more rear headroom and classier cabins.
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The Honda Civic is a family car for a family that likes to be looked at, because its aggressive styling will definitely turn heads (although not always in a good way). Imagine your grandad suddenly coming round sporting a Lady GaGa t-shirt and you’ll be close to the reactions the Civic sometimes elicits.
The good news is that those distinctive looks are backed up by a sporty driving experience, although you have to pay a bit more for it than you do alternatives such as the Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus and Skoda Octavia.
Inside, plenty of soft, squidgy plastics help it feel more upmarket than a Focus but not quite as plush as an Octavia. All but basic S and SE models come with a glossy 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard.
It’s not quite as easy to use as the unit you get in a Golf but some handy shortcut buttons help make switching between key features on the move fairly easy. The Honda Civic menus are a little confusing but it does come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring and satellite-navigation as standard.
The Honda Civic’s seats are soft, supportive and come with plenty of adjustment to help you get comfy if you’re tall, but you can’t get adjustable lumbar support to help stave off backache on long journeys on entry-level S models.
The back seats are nicely padded but your taller passengers might be moaning about headroom – there’s an annoying lump in the roof just in front of the rear windscreen that you don’t get in the Skoda Octavia. Thankfully, leg and knee room are excellent and there’s almost as much space for three adults to sit abreast as you get in the roomy Vauxhall Astra.
The Honda Civic’s boot is pretty generous, too. It’s bigger than the boot you get in an Astra and will easily fit a bulky baby buggy and some large soft bags.
Don’t let the latest Civic’s boy-racer looks fool you – this is a comfortable, practical family car that’ll be perfectly happy on the school run
You can choose between two petrol engines with either a manual or CVT automatic gearbox, and a diesel which is manual-only. The 1.0-litre petrol is best suited to pottering around town. The quicker 1.5-litre petrol is a better bet if you take in a mix of town and motorway driving, but if you’re often on the motorway the 1.6 diesel should be your choice.
All Honda Civic models are reasonably comfortable over bumps but EX cars and above come with an adaptive suspension system as standard that really helps iron out potholes. It’s not quite as relaxing as a Golf but it strikes a good balance between being comfortable and feeling sporty to drive. The Honda Civic scored a four stars in the strict 2017 Euro NCAP crash tests thanks to its wide range of standard safety kit.
Even entry-level Honda Civic cars get adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, traffic-sign recognition and a system that’ll automatically stop the car if it senses an obstacle in the road ahead. The Honda Civic’s certainly worth considering if you’re looking for a practical family car that’s comfortable and sporty to drive but it is slightly more expensive than some other very capable alternatives.
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The latest Honda Civic has grown into quite a big car, but that does mean it has a lot of space for most passengers and a massive boot. The sloping rear window makes the front of the boot quite shallow, though.
The Honda Civic’s front seats sit close to the floor and come with loads of height adjustment as standard so you’ll have no trouble getting comfortable, even if you’re very tall.
All but entry-level Honda Civic S models come with electrically adjustable lumbar support as standard and EX cars get heated front seats and lumbar support for the passenger, too.
The Honda Civic is a bit more of a mixed bag in the back. Its doors open reasonably wide so it’s easy to jump in but tall passengers will find headroom limited by an awkward bulge in the roof. The small back windows can make it feel a little claustrophobic too, but there’s absolutely loads of foot and knee room and the seats themselves are soft and supportive.
Carrying three adults abreast is a little cosier than in a Vauxhall Astra but the central seat is nicely padded and there’s only a slight lump in the floor to get in the way of your passengers’ feet.
Fitting a child seat is relatively easy, too. The back doors open nice and wide and the Isofix anchor points for fixing the seat base are clearly marked by folding fabric covers (instead of the easy-to-lose plastic caps you’ll find in a VW Golf). Sadly, the Honda Civic’s sloping roofline means you’ll have to stoop down quite low to strap in a child – especially if you’re reasonably tall.
The Honda Civic’s full of handy cubby holes to store family bits and bobs out of sight. The front door bins are big enough to hold large bottles, the glovebox is fairly generous and you get a long storage bin under the folding front armrest on SR models and above.
You can adjust the two front cupholders to securely hold everything from a tiny espresso to a bulky water bottle and SR versions and above come with a folding rear armrest with a second set of cupholders as standard.
All models come with a handy tray under the dashboard for your phone and a set of USB and 12V sockets hidden neatly under the centre console to keep it charged.
The Honda Civic’s 478-litre boot is one of the biggest of any small family car. It’s significantly more spacious than the 380-litre Golf and 370-litre Astra – only the 590-litre boot in the Skoda Octavia beats it. As a result, the Honda Civic will have no trouble swallowing a large baby stroller and some bulky soft bags.
Unfortunately, there’s a slight boot lip to contend with and you can’t raise the Honda Civic’s boot floor to make loading heavy luggage easier. Thankfully, there’s plenty of underfloor storage and you get a few handy tether points to stop smaller items rolling around. SR models and above come with a 12V socket in the back for keeping various boot-bound gizmos charged, too.
Another noteworthy feature is the Honda Civic’s sideways-folding load cover. It’s about half the size of a traditional forward-sliding cover and it’s easily small enough to tuck neatly under the floor.
The back seats fold down in a handy two-way (60:40) split so you can carry a passenger in the back and some long luggage in the boot at once. Fold both back seats down – using the latches beside the headrests – and you’ll have access to an impressive 1,267-litre load bay.
It’s pretty much on a par with the roomy 1,270-litre Golf and easily big enough to carry a bike with one wheel removed. The boot floor isn’t completely flat (it ramps up slightly behind the back seats) but it won’t give you too many headaches unless you need to slide very heavy boxes right up behind the front seats.
Unfortunately, the new Honda Civic does away with the old car’s magic seat system. As a result, you can’t flip up the back seat bases to carry tall items such as a kid’s bike in the rear passenger compartment.
The Honda Civic’s adaptive suspension helps make it involving when you want to have fun and comfortable when you don’t. Unfortunately, it’s only standard on high-spec EX models.
You can get the Honda Civic with one of two petrol engines and one diesel engines. The petrols can be linked to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed CVT automatic, while the diesel is manual-only.
You’ll want to consider the 129hp 1.0-litre petrol model if you spend most time around town. It’s reasonably perky and can return around 45mpg (compared to Honda’s claimed 55.4mpg). If you mostly do long journeys then the 182hp 1.5-litre model will be a much better bet.
It’s not just faster than the 1.0-litre version (it can accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds compared to 10.2 seconds) but it’s smoother and can return almost identical fuel economy – go easy on the accelerator and it’ll easily manage 44mpg.
You’ll want to consider a 1.6-litre diesel Honda Civic instead if you do lots of long journeys. This 120hp Civic will accelerate from 0-62mph in a respectable (but hardly spritely) 9.8 seconds but easily outstrips the petrols in the fuel economy stakes. Honda claims it’ll return 80.7mpg but even in normal driving conditions you can expect to see a figure in the high sixties.
It’s also impressively quiet at low speeds for a diesel engine and it’s also happier pulling heavier trailers than the petrols. Sadly, you can’t get it with an automatic gearbox but the standard-fit six-speed manual is impressively smooth and very easy to use around town.
The optional CVT gearbox will set you back £1,400 across the Honda Civic range but it’s worth considering if you spend a lot of time in heavy traffic. It’s not perfect, however – it causes the engine to drone loudly when you accelerate hard and blunts the 1.5-litre model’s otherwise rather sprightly performance. Fuel economy takes a slight hit compared to the model with the manual gearbox, too.
The Honda Civic’s light steering makes it easy to drive around town but there are a few blindspots to worry about. The pillars where the front doors meet the windscreen can obscure your view out at junctions and the narrow rear windscreen can make parking slightly nerve-wracking, too.
Thankfully, all but entry-level S models come with front and rear parking sensors and SR models and above get a reversing camera as standard.
The Honda Civic soaks up bumpy city streets and poorly maintained country roads impressively well for a relatively small car, too – especially EX models and above thanks to their standard adaptive suspension. It can’t quite soften the jarring thud of large potholes quite as well as a VW Golf but the Honda Civic runs the class-leading German car very close in terms of outright comfort.
You’ll hear a little more wind and tyre noise in the Honda Civic at motorway speeds than you would in the VW but it’s far from excessive – you can easily have a conversation with your passengers without raising your voice.
Head off the motorway and onto a windy country road and the Honda Civic feels more agile than the Golf. It comes with a clever system that individually brakes its rear wheels to help it turn sharply and its adaptive suspension stops it leaning too much in tight corners. That said, it’s not quite as sporty as a Ford Focus or as surefooted as a Vauxhall Astra.
When it comes to safety, even entry-level S models come with bundles of kit as standard such as lane-departure warning, traffic-sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking (which’ll stop the car automatically to help prevent a collision) all helped the Civic score a reasonable four-star safety rating in the strict 2017 tests.
The Honda Civic’s cabin looks and feels reasonably upmarket for a car this size but the back seats aren’t quite as roomy as in alternative models.
Honda Civic colours
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