From £15,760
More rewarding to drive than before, has a nice cabin and retains its useful practicalities

Our Verdict

Honda Civic
The ninth generation of Honda’s venerable hatch has moved upmarket, although the styling is divisive

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

6 November 2011

What is it?

Never mind the diesel, Honda UK reckons this 1.8-litre petrol model will be the biggest selling model of new Honda Civic. Honda is hoping to sell 25,000 new Civics in the UK next year, and it believes 60 per cent of those will have petrol power.

Whether that’s because Honda’s customers have traditionally preferred a high-revving VTEC buzz, or simply because its diesel engines simply haven’t been up to scratch and shopped elsewhere for an oil burner is debatable, but the fact is that this is where Honda is looking to reap most rewards with this thoroughly reworked evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, ninth-generation Civic.

There’s a new 1.4-litre petrol version coming, too, but that’s only expected to account for a very small percentage of sales.

The car driven here is a six-speed manual version in top-level EX GT trim, which costs a not inconsiderable £24,495. If that sounds like a lot to swallow, the 1.8 Civic also comes in EX, ES and SE trim, priced £21,795, £18,995 and £17,995 respectively.

What’s it like?

Overall, this is a much improved car. As we’ve already found with the diesel version, the Civic’s ride, composure and rolling refinement are commendable steps up from the previous generation’s. The steering feels more direct and responsive, too, although it is on the light side and lacking in some feel, but broadly speaking this is a more engaging car to drive.

Cabin noise, or rather the lack of it, at motorway cruising speeds is most impressive. There’s some wind noise around the A-pillars and over the panoramic glass roof fitted to top-sepc EX GT models, but it’s only of note due to the absence of any significant road or engine noise. At least that was the case on the Spanish motorways we drove on in this petrol-engined car.

The engine is a mixed bag. It’s a little bit cleaner and a little bit more powerful than before (140bhp and 145g/km beats 138bhp and 152g/km) and around town and at a cruise it’s a model of smooth, hushed refinement, but it isn’t particularly satisfying to work hard.

Peak torque – and it is a peak, not a broad spread – of just 128lb ft appears up at 4300rpm, and consequently the 140bhp peak power figure appears high up, too, at a lofty 6500rpm. Add long, widely spaced upper gear ratios, presumably to help lower the CO2 figure, and the perverse consequence is that you have to rev the high heavens out of it on wide throttle openings to make the car feel reasonable sprightly, which results in anything but low CO2 figures. It also results in quite a bit of noise in the cabin and the need to shuffle up and down the gearbox to maintain speed.

Should I buy one?

If you’re going to cover a lot of miles then the diesel Civic probably makes a better case for itself than this petrol version – a claimed 46.3mpg (or 47.1mpg in anything below EX GT trim) doesn’t compare too favourably with the diesel’s 64.2mpg (or 67.3mpg in lesser trim levels).

However, a Golf or Focus makes a more convincing proposition both on paper and from behind the wheel, but the new Civic shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Far from it. It’s more rewarding to drive than before but has a nice cabin and retains useful practicalities such as a huge boot and the clever ‘Magic Seat’ system in the rear which gives an extremely flexible load space. It’s also very well finished and solidly screwed together, but for the money you’d hope it would be.

Honda Civic 1.8 i-VTEC EX GT

Price: £24,495; 0-62mph: 9.6sec; Top speed: 134mph; Kerb weight: 1344kg; Economy: 46.3mpg (combined); CO2: 145g/km; Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1798cc, petrol; Max power: 140bhp at 6500rpm; Max torque: 128lb ft at 4300rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
36

7 November 2011

Well I can only go on by what I've seen and that is customers are voting with their feet. I know several people who swore by their Hondas (me included albeit in the mid 90's) but they've all deserted Honda in recent years. I was looking for a car in this sector last month - didn't even go near a Honda showroom.

And when's the last time I saw a 61 plate Civic on the road? Come to think of it when's the last time I saw a 10 plate or 60 plate Civic?

Honda may well be right, 60% of all Civics sold will be 1.8 petrols, but if you're not going to offer an engine for the times then the opposition will clean up. Honda are in desperate need of a small diesel. Such a pity because Honda once sold an excellent priced and packaged Civic in the UK. I'm sure the Civic use to be regular top ten seller?

Another thing to note from this test - the testers were impressed by the lack of cabin noise at motoway speeds? Hope that's true because cabin noise has been a thorn in the side of the current Civic (Honda's in general). That said, when What Car! tested this version recently, they concluded that the engine drones a bit on the motorway but the road noise is far more intrusive.

7 November 2011

Honda UK seem determined to push up the price of their cars, whilst not offering us what we want. The inevitable result is lower sales. Such a shame when Honda ownership is so easy with reliable cars and good dealers, but if the products are too expensive, ugly (well this facelifted civic is), cheaply designed (No IRS), and out of step with the market (small diesel) then its going to be tough to sell the cars.

7 November 2011

You kidding right? £24,495 for a car that you have to "rev the high heavens out of it on wide throttle openings to make the car feel reasonable sprightly".

Next model down is a £21,795 for which you get a normal aspirated out of date 1.8 which develops "...just 128lb ft appears up at 4300rpm" for that money you could get the highest specification Ford Focus with a modern 1.6 turbo, a reasonable Audi A3 or a topend Golf (all come with better looks and engine and you get some change). I could go on but you get the idea, I just hope Honda does!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 November 2011

I'm going to stick my neck out here, I think this is a likeable car but it's qualities aren't immediately apparent from the specification sheet.

What hasn't helped is the sky high price of the top spec model tested and I suspect a sweeter spot can be found further down the range. Whilst Honda don't tend to discount, their finance packages seem to be quite competitive, which again will help the cars cause and pull in customers.

I have tended to find this recently though, Honda's show room appeal is lacking but out in the real world their vehicles tend to outshine their rivals in ultimate useability.

 

 

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

7 November 2011

[quote TegTypeR]Honda's show room appeal is lacking but out in the real world their vehicles tend to outshine their rivals in ultimate useability[/quote]

So the Civic is a little bit like a fat girlfriend. Sorry but after spending £20,000 you'd want something to be proud of sitting on your drive

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 November 2011

£25k for a Honda Civic 1.8 just because you can rev the nuts off it? far too steep.

7 November 2011

[quote xxxx]

[quote TegTypeR]Honda's show room appeal is lacking but out in the real world their vehicles tend to outshine their rivals in ultimate useability[/quote]

So the Civic is a little bit like a fat girlfriend. Sorry but after spending £20,000 you'd want something to be proud of sitting on your drive

[/quote]

Very shallow way to look at women.

 

 

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

7 November 2011

[quote xxxx] Sorry but after spending £20,000 you'd want something to be proud of sitting on your drive [/quote]And you think a Focus is something you would be proud to have on your drive?

7 November 2011

[quote Maxycat][quote xxxx] Sorry but after spending £20,000 you'd want something to be proud of sitting on your drive [/quote]And you think a Focus is something you would be proud to have on your drive?[/quote]

Firstly it wasn't the only car in the list, secondly the focus 1.6 turbo Titanium for less money but be a far better buy no matter how you look at it

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 November 2011

Earlier this year, I drove an outgoing Civic with this 140bhp 1.8 engine. It was capable of a very respectable 42mpg. This one is capable of 46mpg, and whichever way you look at it, that's very impressive for a naturally aspirated 1.8 petrol. What disappoints me is that the one I drove was quite a bit faster, which shows that this car is rather hefty. Still, a very impressive engine, even if you do have to rev the nuts off it (that's what VTEC engines are all about, surely). I'm just not sure that the price tag is justifiable.

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