Honda Civic (2011-2015) Review

Family hatchback with big boot and decent interior

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Big boot
  • Clever interior
  • British built
  • High prices
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Ride quality complaints

£16,635 - £29,195 Price range

5 Seats

44 - 78 MPG


The Honda Civic is a small family car that is famous for its reliability and versatile interior. It’s closest rivals are the Mazda 3, the Toyota Auris and the Ford Focus.

Inside, the Civic is just as funky as the old model, but the double decker dashboard can be divisive. The quality of the materials is good and the whole interior feels very robust. Passenger space isn’t class leading, but boot space certainly is – the Civic has one of the in its class.

Testers weren’t impressed with the way the Civic drives – the ride is firm and quite a bit of road noise makes its way into the cabin. Rear visibility is also an area that the Civic receives criticism due to the large rear spoiler, so we recommend spending extra for parking sensors or a rear-view camera.

The engine line-up consists of two petrols and one diesel. The 1.6-litre diesel is the most frugal and the 1.8-litre petrol is the sportiest if you don’t go all the way to the slightly mad Type R model. All of the engines are cheap to run.

While it’s not cheaper than some rivals, the Civic comes with plenty of equipment. The standard S trim comes with useful kit such as climate control, while the more expensive SE Plus comes with cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, parking sensors as well as a rear-view camera. The top of the range EX Plus makes the Civic quite luxurious inside with leather seats and a panoramic sunroof, but also it quite expensive.

Much like the previous version, the new Civic gets a rather funky looking cabin, with plenty of digital readouts on the dash. While it’s certainly a distinctive feature, some aren’t too sure whether it’s as practical to use as a more traditional layout. As you’d expect from a Honda, build quality is impressive, though there are some cheap plastics lurking around the place.

Honda Civic passenger space

The cabin space isn’t particularly great for the class standard – taller passengers will feel cramped in the back, and there appears to be a lack of headroom up front if you specify the panoramic sunroof. That being said, the boot is the largest in its class and there are plenty of storage cubbies littered around the car.

Honda Civic boot space

Thanks to it’s clever design the boot of the Civic is huge. With its 487 litres of capacity it’s larger than a VW Golf boot by 100 litres and completely dwarfs the Ford Focus’s 316 litres.

The Civic also comes with a rather innovative ‘Magic seat’ in the back which helps improve practicality massively – not only do the rear seats fold completely flat, but you can flip the cushions up like cinema chairs do if you leave the seatbacks in place.

Reports on how the Civic drives aren’t so complimentary. The ride, though improved over the previous model, is not the most relaxing while many reviews say it’s not a lot of fun to drive with numb steering. There are still issues with road noise, but wind noise is reduced and this may have an impact.

One of the most frequently mentioned criticisms regards the awful rear visibility. The design of the car, with giant rear pillars and a spoiler splitting the rear screen, means that you can’t see a lot out of the back, which makes parking difficult. There are also large blind spots and visibility behind your shoulder is pitiful too.

The Civic is currently offered with three engines, two petrol and one diesel.

Honda Civic petrol engines

The petrols are still surprisingly cheap to run for non-turbo engines (the 1.4-litre version manages fuel economy of more than 50 mpg), and some were fans of the linear and progressive power delivery. The 1.8-litre engine is a little on the sportier side, with a 0-62mph time of 9.1 seconds.

Honda Civic diesel engines

The “Earth Dreams” 1.6-litre diesel gets most praise for its excellent real-world economy. Honda say it will do a combined 78.5mpg and at 94 g/km of CO2.

Reviews are mixed for the 1.6 diesel engine in the Civic, though some of that is down to the love it or hate it nature of the car itself. There's still some division over the engine though, mostly regarding its refinement. Some testers say the 118 horsepower, four-cylinder unit is both quiet and refined, aided by gearing that puts it at only 2,000 rpm at a 70 mph cruise. Others suggest it's a little way off the refinement of similar units from Ford and Volkswagen.

Most can agree it offers better performance than most rivals though, and that's before you even get to the car's economy. At 78.5 mpg combined it's one of the most frugal cars in the class, and real-world economy is lauded too. The 1.6 diesel is probably the best car in the Civic range.

The reviews for the new Honda Civic 1.8 i-VTEC aren't particularly positive. The critics agree that it’s worth choosing over the smaller 1.4 unit, but quite a few reckon that you’d be better off either opting for the diesel or waiting for some new engines to arrive.

In traditional Honda VTEC fashion, you have to really work the engine hard in order to make progress – the 140bhp and 128lb/ft of torque are all produced fairly high up in the rev range, so you’ll need to drop a few gears during overtaking manoeuvres on motorways. It’s also quite raucous at higher revs, but most testers reckon it does start to settle down at cruising speeds. Some also thought it rides a bit better than the 2.2 diesel model, as it's lighter, and the claimed 46 mpg figures means it’s fairly efficient for a non-turbo petrol car.

f you must have petrol power in a Civic, then this is definitely the one to choose. However, most critics think it’s too compromised in some key areas, and many would recommend either opting for the punchier and more efficient diesel or looking at some of the car’s similarly specified rivals.

The reviews for the new Honda Civic 2.2 i-DTEC are fairly mixed. Generally the critics aren't over-awed with the car as a whole, but say that this is a decent engine.

The testers seem to agree that it’s a punchy and efficient engine with plenty of things to like about it. However, whilst some reckon it’s the Civic to go for, quite a few think that you’d be better off either waiting for more efficient engines or opting for a different car altogether.

Surprisingly, quite a few critics seem to be impressed by how competent the diesel engine is – it’s just as powerful as the smaller petrol, yet has substantially more torque and won't cost a lot to run thanks to an mpg range of 64.2 - 67.3 mpg (depending on spec) and road tax of only £20 or £30 a year.

However, some testers reckon it’s not quite as much fun to drive as the petrols, and there were quite a few complaints regarding some intrusive engine noise, especially at higher revs.

If you must have a Civic right now, then we think you should definitely have a look at the diesel spec, the 2.2 oil burner is a better all-round proposition than the less frugal and comparatively sluggish petrols.

The new Civic doesn’t excel in many areas, so we’re more inclined to recommend some of its similarly specified rivals. Also, bear in mind that a cheaper and more efficient 1.6 diesel is set to join the Civic range later this year, so it may be worth holding out a little longer until the critics get hold of it.

With five stars, the Honda Civic breezed through Euro NCAP‘s tests. It impressed the testers with fantastic passenger protection and scored top of its class on pedestrian safety. 

To make it safer the Civic can be equipped with traffic-sign recognition, lane-departure warning, active cruise control as well as automatic city braking for an extra cost. Stability and traction control are standard across the range as are dual-stage airbags and seatbelt reminders.

The Honda Civic isn’t exactly the last word in value for money – it’s one of the more expensive cars in its class starting at £17k. Standard kit is decent across the range though, and the top spec EX Plus models are loaded with ‘big car’ equipment – but they cost big car money too, making them hard to recommend.

Honda Civic Sport

Sport trim level offers the best blend of standard equipment and reasonable asking price. It gets all the kit from the SE Plus – including climate and cruise control, auto lights and wipers, a seven-inch colour display and a rear parking camers – and adds sporty alloy wheels and a more aggressive front grille.


Overall, the Honda Civic is a decent all-round car – it may under the skin be just a heavily revised version of the previous car, but the changes made are certainly welcome. The Civic comes with class leading practicality and its futuristic design will undoubtedly appeal to some. However, it’s not quite as polished in other areas, and is rather pricey when compared to some rivals.

The Civic is by no means a bad car, and it certainly has its merits, but it’s not easy to recommend over more accomplished rivals – though the 1.6-litre diesel is worth a look for its excellent economy.