Both of the previous two incarnations of the modern era Honda Civic have been very good cars. When all about them boxy hatchbacks thrived the Swindon based company went for a stylish dart shape which proved to be very popular right down to the triangular exhaust outlets.
Always good to drive and with an interior I could live with despite a few nitpicks, for me, it was the engines that let the car down. This clearly wasn’t a universal opinion but I just felt they needed something a bit livelier between the standard fare and the bonkers Type R. The new version is available now by the way. You can read my thoughts on the old version HERE. It would make a great used hot hatch buy.
The Honda Civic Looks Great
The new Honda Civic seems to be slightly dividing opinion. Some don’t like it, preferring the previous model, but I think it looks brilliantly individual with that long bonnet and the swooping lines. It’s lower and wider and looks determinedly purposeful; racy almost. There’s a lot of terminally dull car design around today so Honda should be applauded for this car. I’m already seeing a lot about so I guess most new car buyers are thinking the same.
The Honda Civic 1.5L
Let’s get to my point. Honda have added to their engine options a 1.5 litre VTEC turbo-engine and it has made all the difference. This is one motor that is eager to please. If you don’t need the huge raucous power of the Type R but like a bit of fizz with your motoring then say hello to this four-cylinder beauty.
You can get it with a (shudder) CVT gearbox if you really must but the good old fashioned six-speed stirring stick is the way to go here. Give it some throttle, build the revs and a hefty 179.5bhp is available which helps deliver a lively 8.2 second sprint to 62mph. It’s terrific and eminently drivable while still delivering well over 40mpg. Emissions are okay at 133g/km. You can’t have it all ways.
If a sporting drive isn’t a priority then the alternative and perfectly acceptable petrol engine available just now is a 1.0L three-pot turbo with 127bhp, slightly better fuel consumption and lower emissions at 110g/km. Diesels will be along next year.
Driving The Honda Civic
Honda tell us that the new car has a stiffer chassis for a better driving experience and that proves to be true. Occupants sit lower in the Civic and the driving position is sporting with plenty of adjustment.
With all this talk of sporty driving it is important to mention that all versions of this come come with Honda SENSING as standard. This is a complete suite of safety features that uses radar and camera technology to deliver variously, collision mitigation, lane departure warning, cruise control and a host of other features. Having a car that keen drivers will enjoy is all very well but it still needs to protect us from our own driving inadequacies.
The Honda Civic (in Sport Plus guise as seen here) is always eager to crack on but when constrained it is happy to potter about and cruise smoothly. New from the ground up the company have engineered this car well and – praise be – there’s a bit of weight to the steering and handling is precise when cornering with minimal body roll. It is possible to induce a touch of typical front-wheel drive understeer but you’d have to be driving poorly to find it.
The ride whilst smooth and very acceptable generally isn’t perfect. There always has to be a compromise between the family hatch and the sporting motor lurking beneath. The suspension seems to me to be set up for stability first which means on some road surfaces the ride is a little fussy. No big deal; for around £25,000 fully loaded the Honda Civic 1.5 VTEC Sport Plus is better at the job than most.
I think Honda have done a brilliant job with this car. No, not every likes the new shape but that’s how it goes. You can’t please all of the people all of the time but you can please most of them most of the time and, crucially, this car pleases me greatly and that’s the important thing.