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.