It's a cracking little hatchback that feels upmarket, brilliantly built and unburstable
Civic Press Reviews
"In a market where anodyne rules the middle lane, the [new Civic] stands out like Boris Johnson at a Kojak convention," says Martin Love
Honda's approach has been pragmatic. Rather than start again, it has kept the elements its customers like - such as the sharp styling and generous cabin and boot space - and concentrated on the bits they care for less. So it is quieter and more comfortable, cheaper to run and better to drive.
The Civic retains Honda's ultra-practical seats (backs fold forwards, cushions tip up) and the rear doors continue to come with those semi-invisible flap-handles.
Who's buying [the Civic]? People who read reliability surveys, which the Civic tops over and over again.
Hondas have consistently scored well in customer satisfaction surveys ... Now, thanks to softer-touch plastics, the Civic feels like a more expensive car.
[This Civic] corrects the balance with a six-speed gearbox, sharper handling and a neater ride... Honda seems with the new Civic to have taken a very good car and made it better
The Civic should be one of the cheapest hatchbacks to run in its class. Insurance groupings have dropped by up to five bands over the previous model and all models are economical.
There just isn't enough space here to list the number of quality, reliability and customer satisfaction surveys that have commended Honda recently, and there is no reason to expect that the new Civic will be any less excellent as an ownership proposition than any of its range mates.
There's 401 litres of space available while the under-floor compartment adds a further 76-litres. Drop the rear seats and the Civic can carry a maximum of 1,342 litres of luggage. To get a flat load space you simply flip two levers down and the seat-backs fold without any fuss.
Step inside and while the facia is still split-level, there's a new found logic with more conventional switches and dials bunched together. Material quality is hugely improved and the trim seems better made and fitted. In the centre is a new high-resolution screen, clearly displaying satnav, air-con and radio/CD information.
Honda has improved the quality of materials in the new Civic, giving them a softer, higher-quality feel. The lay-out of the controls is driver-focused with the rev-counter taking centre stage and a digital speedo sitting on a secondary information display. It feels more spacious and more sober than its predecessor.
It doesn't take long behind the wheel to realise Honda's focus was to improve refinement. The suspension bushes are now filled with fluid, rather than rubber, so the ride is more comfortable. While reinforced door sills and thicker front windows help keep engine noise and tyre roar at bay.
The latest Honda Civic has always been a bridesmaid in its class, trailing the Ford Focus and VW Golf. One of the main reasons for this was the lack of a sub-100g/km diesel engine. This new 1.6-litre i-DTEC is the answer to that, and with impressive CO2 emissions of 94g/km and average fuel economy of 78.5mpg, it's sure to be popular with company drivers.
An all-new, 1.6-litre diesel engine from Honda, priced from £19,400, and designed to broaden the Civic's appeal to company car buyers in Europe. Because up until now, the Civic was only available with a relatively large 2.2-litre oil burner - good for power and torque, less impressive for economy and emissions.
Why, you might be wondering, are we bothering to first-drive a new engine variant of a Honda Civic? Well, we'd do it for an EfficientDynamics derivative of a BMW - and it's not outrageous to make a similar fuss about the advantages of this new 1.6-litre i-DTEC turbodiesel.
All real car fans like Honda. It's very good at engines, and you always have the feeling that it's just about the most 'engineering-led' mainstream car manufacturer. Sometimes, though, you'd have to admit that the product planners and marketing people should probably have been allowed a bit more influence.
The long-awaited 94g/km Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC arrives in January. Honda could not sell a Civic diesel during most of 2011 because there was nowhere to fit a Diesel Particulate Filter. Consequently, the best Civic from January to November 2011 was the 1.8i, a car that I re-tested and was pleasantly surprised to see fuel economy of 45mpg.