New Honda Civic

30 Oct, 2011 6:00pm Jo Oliveira

Our verdict on the new Honda Civic – and better efficiency and toned-down looks give hatch added appeal


Honda has clearly decided to broaden the Civic’s appeal, and while the toned-down looks won’t please everyone, the new model’s family car credentials have improved. Refinement and ride comfort are superb, while the spacious interior is more logical to use and more stylish. The 2.2-litre diesel has always performed well, and now has efficiency to match – but we’d still wait until next autumn for the cheaper 1.6.
The new ninth-generation Honda Civic is more civilised than ever, with improved refinement, toned-down styling and lower running costs. Honda has sold more than 650,000 Civics in the UK since 1973, so the arrival of an all-new version of the Ford Focus rival, built in Swindon, Wiltshire, is big news – and we’ve driven it.

Video: watch our video review of the Honda Civic

The design represents a gentle evolution rather than the radical overhaul introduced by the old car. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but is still sure to get you noticed. The new Civic is 2cm lower, 1cm wider and 3cm longer than before, but a shorter wheelbase leaves it with much longer overhangs.

Other novelties include the high-mounted tail-lamp clusters, the daylight running LEDs and the active grille shutter on diesel models. The light strip spoiler, which bisects the back window, is set 20mm lower than before and a rear wiper has been added, too.

Inside, there’s slightly less space in the rear, although adults still have plenty of head and legroom. The boot is eight litres smaller than before, at 478 litres, but that’s still class-leading. Honda’s flexible seat layout is carried over, allowing you to fold the rear bench flat or fix the seats vertically, freeing up space to slot in bulky objects through the rear doors.

From the driver’s seat, visibility is improved thanks to thinner A-pillars, but the spilt screen still hampers the view to the rear. The dash layout has grown up, too, with the confusing digital dials from the old car making way for a cleaner, more logical design.

Quality has taken a leap with soft-touch materials added everywhere except on the top of the instrument panel. The driver’s seat has better lateral support and now features a pneumatic lumbar support which will be useful on long journeys.

It doesn’t take long behind the wheel to realise Honda’s focus was to improve refinement. The suspension bushes are now filled with fluid, rather than rubber, so the ride is more comfortable, while reinforced door sills and thicker front windows help keep engine noise and tyre roar at bay.

The Civic’s relaxing character is helped by the light steering, which is ideal around town, and a more direct ratio means it’s accurate and quick when you up the pace.

The initial engine line-up will be familiar to owners of the current Civic, although stop-start has been added across the range. The 1.4-litre and 1.8-litre petrol engines have the same outputs as the current model – 99bhp and 140bhp respectively – while the 2.2-litre diesel in the car we drove has been given a more thorough makeover. Power is up by 10bhp and torque by 10Nm, to 148bhp and 350Nm, and fuel economy rises 18 per cent to 67.3mpg.
The large-capacity four-cylinder diesel remains one of the best engines around. It pulls hard from low revs, spins smoothly and has plenty of performance.

Despite being the most expensive option, Honda predicts this engine will be its biggest seller here – at least until a smaller 120bhp 1.6-litre diesel, with less than 100g/km of CO2, arrives this time next year.

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I do not know how much Hyundai are paying you for the constant pop ups, but it is making trying to navigate around this website very difficult. I understand that you are driven by money and nothing else, as you only have good things to say about the companies that are prepared to pay you enough. But do i have to have the I40 thrown at my face every time i log onto your website?

Longer car, shorter wheelbase, more overhang - well that's certainly marching to a different drum from the rest of the industry. I cannot imagine that less room in the rear, for a car that was not over-endowed with this attribute to begin with, is exactly a USP.

However, I am glad they have got rid of the horribly cheap looking chromed plastic surround to the front grille, even though the replacing pseudo metal grin is not to my taste. I am sure that the Civic will continue to go down well with the blue rinse market and plague us all for years to come, being driven at a wobbly 35 MPH along country roads.


Your mention of the above will have postponed a few sales! Certainly me.

Another ugly Honda.
This is so much like the previous model.
Lazy design from a company that has a great reputation for reliability.

I see more of Honda's 'traditional' drivers behind the wheel of a Kia of Hyundai. Honda's are not cheap and those on a fixed income do not have as much disposable wealth these days - if any at all. I hope the new Civic sells well as Honda have the good grace to build it here in the UK. My key gripe with the old car was its poor visibility, harsh ride and coal hole rear accommodation. Is the new one better? The 'old' Civic remains a good looking car and, because every other car on the road is a 3-series BMW, pretty distinctive too. When my car is up for renewal I will put one on my short list.

Why make a smaller car when most manufacturers are sizing up? The problem with this Civic is the ride quality. The UK has the worst roads in Europe, yet Honda gave up the multi link rear suspension of the previous generation car, for a transverse cart spring. All they have now done is fit fluid filled bushes. I agree Kia and Hyundai have better offerings and warranties for the Civic's traditional market

At the moment it feels like all Japanese car makers and designers have something else on their mind: the tsunami aftermath. Once an interesting brand operating at the forefront of new developments, Honda now seems to specialize in making very UNinteresting cars. Neighbor China bought Volvo and Saab. That should be a wake up call for the Japanese.

... improved!

I have already had a good look at the new car in the metal and it IS an improvement in detail. The biggest selling engine (2.2 i-DTEC) offers additional benefits to the driver in both driving dynamics and financially.

And it is still the most striking design out there, offering decent accommodation and practicality.

How do I come to this conclusion? Because:
a) I had a Type-R for 4yrs/60k miles (only just disposed of)
b) I run a vehicle leasing company and get to drive everything in the market

As an added bonus almost nothing comes close for reliability either.

Have you looked at the back end? Ugliest thing I've ever seen! As a previous comment said "longer car, shorter wheelbase, longer overhangs" and yet the boot is still smaller than previously? Boot sizes are a joke now.

I had a 2.2 ictdi civic for 4 years and 75000 miles had excellent service from the ealer amd 99% reliability with only 1 incident allowing me to get to the dealer in get home mode. I like the lookm of this car and even with the slightly smaller boot there shoiuld be no problem for most families. I now have a crv with the idtec diesel which is better still and hope this is the one in the new civic. I will certainly consider the 1.6 diesel next year as a second car.

I currently drive an Accord, the build quality is superb and I have been extremely pleased with every aspect of the car. I plan to change it soon for a smaller car to fit in with retirement plans and this new civic will certainly top my list of possible replacements.

I have driven the current/old model Civic as a courtesy car and although the 1.8 petrol is good the 2.2 diesel is a real cracker. Smooth and quiet as a petrol, revs like a petrol with all the torque of a diesel and goes like a train.

Says it all really. A famously reliable 4 seater with performance to shame the rest. As for the juvenile comments about old men's cars, forget it. I could easily turn your knuckles white and brown your trousers in one of these.

I still think that the Civics (with the exception of the original Type-R) are amongst the ugliest cars on the road.
No doubt reliable, although a friends experience with the previous "Cadburys Egg" Civic suggests that might be an illusion - but hideous to look at. Will go down a storm in the USA and Eastbourne

The previous model Civic was a "Marmite" design (you know the catchphrase!)

I want one of these - 2.2 oilburner will suit just fine! I will be interested to see what the leasing costs will be over 4 years when my current piece of Deutsche Scheiße is disposed of this time next year...

I have been waiting for the feedback on new civic as i own previous generation....i think i will keep my civic as everytime i get in driving seat its like an ocassion....ther is no other car in this segment which manage that....its different and doesnt look like any other model from Honda as golf look exactly like polo or passat ...all have same styling....atleast Honda have b***s to be different....just wondering if those fluid filled suspension jooints can be retro fitted to older version civic as for thats all it needs fixing......

How have they managed to make a hideous design even worse? Clever these Japanese!

I wish that we get the choice of the new saloon/coupe version as well. It is being offered as both a hatchback and saloon in Australia which means right hand drive models could have the potential to reach our shores too. Let hope it does!

Key specs

* Price: £21,095
* Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl turbodiesel 
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 
* Power/torque: 148bhp/350Nm
* 0-60mph: 8.5 seconds
* Top speed: 135mph
* Economy: 67.3mpg
* CO2: 110g/km
* Equipment: Cruise control, rear view parking camera, electric windows and mirrors, air-con, USB input, Bluetooth, automatic headlights
* On sale: January