What is it?
After three years without a single saloon in its UK line-up, Honda has bolstered the Civic range with a new four-door bodystyle.
Customers see the Civic as synonymous with the brand, Honda says, and a saloon should help broaden its appeal. It also has to tempt Accord customers, who have been without a direct replacement since that model went off sale in 2015.
The elongated, coupé-like styling is certainly more restrained than the polarising hatchback, with a more discreet rear bumper and a roofline that slopes smoothly into the C-pillars. Overall length has grown 125mm to 4644mm, with the extra dimensions increasing boot space to 519 litres, versus 478 litres in the five-door.
The launch line-up is limited to two engines: a 127bhp, 1.0-litre i-VTEC three-cylinder turbo petrol in six-speed manual or CVT automatic guises, and the 118bhp, 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel, tested here with manual transmission but also available with a nine-speed automatic - a first for any diesel Civic. For the time being, the more potent 1.5-litre petrol is staying exclusive to the hatchback.
The diesel is expected to outsell the petrol 3:2, with an even split between manual and automatic transmissions. And even then, Honda expects the hatchback to continue to make up the majority of Civic sales.
What's it like?
Front and rear passengers will find little difference between this car and the regular Civic, with plenty of leg room and the same low-slung driving position.
As big as the newly separated boot may be, though, actually using the space is made trickier by the smaller opening. It may be wide, but the boot opening isn’t as tall as the hatchback, and it can be harder to store bulkier items.
The mid-spec SR trim of our test car includes a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system as standard but, compared with rivals, the Garmin-supplied navigation graphics feel outdated and cumbersome. Thankfully, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available for an improved sat-nav experience using your smartphone.
Overall interior quality still isn’t quite up to the same standard as Volkswagen or Mazda, but the soft-touch plastics and sensibly laid-out dashboard continue to make a good impression here. The digital instrument cluster is particularly slick compared with similarly priced rivals'.
On the road, the four-door Civic is just as engaging as the hatchback, with direct and nicely weighted steering, and a chassis that’s responsive to your inputs. The saloon uses a version of the dual-pinion power-assisted steering found on the Civic Type R, specifically tuned for the four-door model with a focus on secure handling.