Derided for not being as good an all-rounder as the Volkswagen Golf (few things are) or as competent as the Audi A3 Sportback (ditto), there’s still a lot to like about this low-slung family car, not least its stand-alone, if slightly divisive, looks. Honda threw the kitchen sink at it and really upped its game in areas such as driver enjoyment and interior quality.
You can now put one on your drive for as little as £11,000, so for anyone after a smart and frugal hatchback, it’s well worth a look. Ignoring the explosive Type R (difficult, we know), you can seek out the Civic with a 124bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder or 180bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. In 2018, Honda added an economical 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel. Those buying new could match any of these engines with a CVT instead of a manual gearbox.
The range initially kicked off with the basic S version, sans DAB radio or air conditioning, but this was quickly dropped due to slow sales. The SE is far more appealing, with a DAB radio, air-con and parking sensors front and rear.
SR then adds a leather-trimmed steering wheel, automatic wipers and a reversing camera, while EX comes with a package of extra safety kit, keyless start and a leather interior. Then there’s the Sport, which brings heated seats, a sportier bodykit and LED headlights. Sport Plus and Sport Line were added in 2019, while top-of-the-range Prestige gets you a full leather interior and heated rear seats.
On the road, the Civic rides well and is pleasingly refined. Most impressive are its quick steering and slick manual gearshift. The 1.0-litre version is smooth but not stunningly quick; the 1.5-litre is better in that respect, but not by enough to make us seek one out especially. The diesel is frugal but lacks puff.
That £11,000 gets a 1.0-litre car in SR trim with an average mileage for the year. Set aside between £12,000 and £14,000 and you can take your pick of 2018 cars, petrol and diesel, all from Honda dealers and with minimal mileage on the clock. Prepare to spend between £15,000 and £17,000 for a 2019 car.
As you’d expect of a Honda, not much seems to go wrong. Mind you, some owners have complained of squealing brakes, while others have described electrical niggles. Cast a keen eye over the paintwork and lights, too, because both of these have caused concern.
Two years ago, Honda introduced the Civic 4 Door, with the swooping roofline lengthened to create a tail and a style for the saloon that makes a neat alternative to the hatchback. Used prices so far seem to be echoing those of the regular Civic.