From £15,7607
Honda's quirky hatchback gets styling and equipment tweaks for 2015, as well as this new Sport trim

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

20 February 2015

What is it?

After facelifting its Civic for 2014, Honda has given its family hatch another refresh for the coming year.

This time around the changes are more significant. The most obvious are to the styling, which starts with new headlights, but also includes new bumpers, daytime running lights, side mouldings and rear spoiler.

Inside there are now chrome door handles, new door trims and new seat fabrics, but most notable is the inclusion of Honda's new Android-based infotainment system, Honda Connect.

Mechanically, the only changes are to the dampers, which have been slightly adjusted in favour of a more comfortable ride.

The Sport trim we're driving is new to the range for 2015, and adds black 17in alloy wheels and a colour-coded rear spoiler to help it stand out. It'll need to, against accomplished rivals such as Volkswagen's Golf, Ford's Focus and Seat's Leon.

What's it like?

Sport by name but not by nature. Honda has no plans to introduce a Type S model - as it did with the previous generation Civic - so this new Sport trim is intended to mimic some of the design of the forthcoming Type-R. 

The Civic's steering remains pretty uninspiring, providing little feedback for the driver and showing little urgency in changing where the front end is pointing. 

That said, there is a fair amount of traction to exploit, and the Civic keeps its body under reasonable control through a series of bends. Ultimately, a Golf, Focus and Leon all steer with greater precision and handle more sharply. 

Ride comfort has been slightly improved over the outgoing model. The improvements are mainly seen in initial bump absorption, which makes low-speed progress more settled. Build speed and a worsening secondary ride starts to reveal itself, with large bumps and expansion joints sending the Civic's body bobbing about.

Honda's 1.6 diesel engine remains a mixed bag. There's no disputing the competitivness of its CO2 and fuel economy figures, especially considering there's enough power and torque on tap to ensure brisk progress in and out of town. Engine refinement is no worse than the rival 1.6 diesels at high revs, either. 

However, its rivals' diesel engines pile on maximum torque lower down the rev range, so there's less need to work their gearboxes hard.

The Civic's dashboard is still on the busy side when it comes to its climate controls and three separate displays, but at least its new infotainmnt system is a vast improvment. The previous version's confusing set-up has been replaced with a more user-friendly system with fewer buttons. The Android-based system is easy to naviagte through, too, and the 7.0in screen itself looks pleasingly bright and responds well to touch.

Adults will find the Civic's rear seats cramped compared with a Volkswagen Golf's, and its tapering rear windowline makes it a more claustrophic place to sit. That said, boot space is still 477 litres, which is a considerable amount more space than the equivalent Golf, Focus or Leon's. 

Beyond the sporty tocuhes and Honda Connect system mentioned, opting for a Sport Navi Civic gets you a reasonable amount of kit, including Bluetooth, sat-nav, cruise control, a rear parking camera, front and rear parking sensors and climate control.

Should I buy one?

The Civic remains a reccomendable family hatch, but not our favourite. It has a comfortable ride, a clean, frugal diesel engine, a huge boot and a much improved infotainment system. This Sport Navi model also comes well equipped.

However, for the same sort of money a Golf 1.6 TDI Match offers more passenger space, a better ride and handling combination and a higher quality, better laid out cabin, even if it can't quite equal the Civic for equipment, boot space, CO2 emissions or fuel economy. 

A Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi Titanium and Seat Leon 1.6 TDI SE offer the same blend of strength and weakness against the Civic as the Golf, and remain within a stone's throw of the Honda's price after you've specced them to the same level. 

Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC Sport Navi

Price £21,430; Engine 4 cyls, 1597cc, turbo, diesel; Power 118bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 221lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1425kg; Top speed 129mph; 0-62mph 10.5sec; Economy 76.3mpg; CO2 rating & BIK tax band 98g/km / 15%

Join the debate

Comments
6

20 February 2015
You would have thought that Honda would have realised a pig with lipstick is still pig ugly and therefore it's time to start again with a clean sheet of paper, oh, and bring in some decent petrol engines too.
Not just my opinion, I’ve never seen the Civic in the top 10 and Honda sales are falling generally with a big fall in 2014 when most other manufactures were selling more than the previous year. It’s time to wake up and smell the small petrol Turbo Mr Honda.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

20 February 2015
I think it looks modern, like something from a sci fi movie.
All other cars in the sector look like androgynous slugs, Astra, Leon etc.
Madein Britian too!

20 February 2015
... but it's clear from many reviews of this car. That it has very good leg room. While head room however in the back can be on the low side for tall people if the car is specified with sun roof. This time no distinction is made - the negative "cramped" used instead.

20 February 2015
Please allow me to balance this review a little...and as i've 'lived' with a Civic 1.6 iDTEC for 2 years and 32,000 miles i think i'm in a position to comment unlike some road testers...
1. Engine is superb and has strong torque with high revving ability - i've driven Golf TDI's and Ford diesels which have subjectively impressive low down pull but to live with the Honda is much better - just like VTEC petrols they like revving and are none the worse for it. Engine is refined and is actually remarkable in its efficiency - i drive it 'like its been nicked' and it still gives me 52mpg. I've achieved 65mpg in normal commuting.
2. Space - plenty off it and its intelligent - note that you fail to mention the magioc seats - still a revelation several years on from introduction.
3. Quality - its a Honda and neither VW nor Ford can match it. This car has been punished for 2 years and all its needed are two new front tyres and it still looks and feels as good as new - the engine loosens up nicely after 6000 miles.
4. I actually agree - the previous generation looked better - but as peterover states its different and refreshing in amarketplace that is as boring as hell.

This is my 6th Honda - i wil be getting a 7th - a type R may convince your tester i suspect....

23 February 2015
Funny, the last model Civic had the magico seats and this magazine failed to notice them then. I have the last model Civic, and Autocar's notes were a bit silly then. Unergonomic, lack of space, poor steering etc I have had A3's, Golf's, Focus's and a Civic. The Civic has had less gone wrong with it, more fun to drive fast, more frugal, much more interior space, better looking and easier to operate switches etc. Me and 3 (all least 5ft 8 adult) mates took mine to Monza, covered just shy of 3000 miles- not cramped at all and did 145mph whilst maintaining an average of 50+ mpg and fitted a lot of beer on board!
I wouldn't buy the new model, purely for aesthetic reasons, but after owning all the cars I have, I wouldn't touch a Golf or A3 with a barge pole- expensive to buy, to run and not as much fun! PS The suspension is hard, but then I quite often upgrade my suspension anyhow- British roads!

20 February 2015
I acquired the First Honda Accord for my Father, after he had 3 consecutive Audi 100s. He was delighted. At that time I thought Honda's were rather stodgy, and was blind to their reliability at that time.

BUT Both my brother and my father had a variety of Honda's as family vehicles from Accords, Aerodecks, Early Civics and even an Intergra R.

Honda Engineering and reliability is without match.

I almost cried when I exchanged my Mercedes for a well specced new 5 series. The BMW was a disaster, and spent more time off the road than on it.

I then followed the rest of my family, and purchased a Honda CRV whose heart has not skipped a beat since new. Around the city, the 2.2 Diesel engine is more than a match for the 3 litre BMW 6cyl.

But even the CRV was no match for my Honda Lawn Mower that never skipped a beat for over 30 yrs.

Long live Honda Engineering

Malo Mori Quam Foedari

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