Matt Saunders
18 January 2013

What is it?

The latest version of the Honda Civic which, contrary to appearances, isn’t just about a new engine. As well as the Japanese firm’s new and vitally important low-emissions diesel engine, there are suspension revisions, steering revisions and extra refinement measures thrown into the mix here, all intended to make Swindon’s long-time sales also-ran a proper contender for European tastes.

What is it like?

The sub-100g/km engine is the headline news. Like the 2.2-litre i-DTEC it’s all-aluminium, but it’s a clean-sheet design with a lightweight crankshaft, particularly compact piston skirts, concurrently low internal friction, a small variable geometry turbocharger and an on-demand alternator. Its 118bhp of peak power and 221lb ft of torque, combined with CO2 emissions of 94g/km, make it an outstanding on-paper prospect among its peers.

In practice, it’s pleasingly unaffected by the usual rattle and clatter of diesel engines at low and middling crank speeds, and pulls as hard as many 2.0-litre units at times. It doesn’t  like revving beyond 3500rpm too much, and isn’t as refined at high revs as it is lower down. But throttle response is good, and there’s no sense at all that what you’re driving might be in any way austerity-minded.

The chief dynamic advantage of the engine – that it has taken almost 50kg off the front wheels relative to the 2.2-litre oil-burner – has been seized upon by Honda as an opportunity to make the car handle, and it does to a point. Steering feedback is improved and initial turn-in is much more crisp, thanks to a quicker steering box and stiffer front suspension bushings. Press on and there’s also better cornering balance at higher speeds. The car still isn’t quite as agile or poised as the class leaders, and its ride quality isn’t as highly polished, but unlike in the bigger-engined diesel, there’s no shortage of underlying competence here and little in the way of understeer.

Should I buy one?

As a quirky alternative, yes. A good engine and newly competitive dynamics help but in other ways the Civic could still do with a rethink. The driving position remains unusually high (because you’re sitting on the fuel tank), the exterior styling is still willfully weird and the cabin looks like your own personal brand of Radio Shack, circa 1989.

But if all of that doesn’t put you off, there is now little else that should.

Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC EX

Price £23,175 0-62mph 10.5sec Top speed 129mph Economy 78.5mpg CO2 94g/km Kerb weight 1428kg Engine 4cyls, 1597cc, turbodiesel Power 118bhp at 4000rpm Torque 221lb ft at 2000rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
27

Heavy

1 year 32 weeks ago

Kerb weight 1428kg

It's massively heavy!

Ouch!

1 year 32 weeks ago

£23k for a Honda Civic? That can't be right, surely??!!

This lower tax civic might

1 year 32 weeks ago

This lower tax civic might attract a few more buyers, but i suspect the styling is the biggest problem. If ever a facelift went wrong, it was this one. I suspect its also why 800 people are about to lose their jobs in Swindon, which is very unfortunate. I really hope Honda are working on this already.

The New Honda Civic 1.6i D-TEC EX

1 year 32 weeks ago

I like the New Honda Civic 1.6i D-TEC EX as it is of the Best Small Family Hatchbacks

Jamie Pickles

price

1 year 32 weeks ago

WOW, £23,175. A Focus Titanium 1.0 ecoboost is only £19,215 a difference of nearly £4,000.  And you wouldn't have to put up with the diesel rattle/ noise and a questionable driving experience.  Then there's the Golf. 

And yes it might do slightly more, in the real world, mpg but then diesel is around 5% more in the first place.

No wonder they can't sell em.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

If you can ignore (or even

1 year 32 weeks ago

If you can ignore (or even like) the looks of the Civic, then as Autocar reported in their long term report in this weeks magazine, it is one of the best cars on the market.

This 1.6 diesel looks to also improve on that too but until the styling is "tweaked" I can only see it appealing to the few.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Honda playing catch up

1 year 32 weeks ago

It is heavy. Its pricey too and the styling is not for me. The last model was quirky. This Honda Civic's watered down styling is neither here nor there. I won't be surprised though upon finding that this engine gets awfully close to the claimed mpg.

xxxx wrote: WOW, £23,175. A

1 year 32 weeks ago

xxxx wrote:

WOW, £23,175. A Focus Titanium 1.0 ecoboost is only £19,215 a difference of nearly £4,000.  And you wouldn't have to put up with the diesel rattle/ noise and a questionable driving experience.  Then there's the Golf. 

And yes it might do slightly more, in the real world, mpg but then diesel is around 5% more in the first place.

No wonder they can't sell em.

A Civic EX , the top of the range model, is better equipped than a Titanium Focus. The Focus Titanium X is priced at £22.295 a very similar price to the Civic but the Civic will hold it's value better, be more reliable,  be more economical and have better performance due to it's higher torque.

Styling is a matter of personal choice but the Focus is certainly not a contender as a good looking car. 

As this first drive points out you do not have to put up with diesel rattle as it is very refined.

maxecat

One large obstacle

1 year 32 weeks ago

"But if all of that doesn’t put you off, there is now little else that should."

Price £23,175

 

NEXT!


Where has all Japanese design went to?

This cars problems are the

1 year 32 weeks ago

This cars problems are the styling and the antiquated, cost cutting torsion beam rear suspension. Hondas used to have double wishbones all round and consequently they handled. Ever since its started savage cost cutting, its cars have got cr*p and sales (not to mention Honda's reputation) have suffered. Go figure.

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Our Verdict

Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is an impressive achievement and a worthy rival to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, but it isn't quite up to class-leading standards

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