Honda Civic review

Our Rating: 
2011 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The 2015 Civic offers lots of equipment and some efficient engines to rival the Ford Focus and VW Golf, and now a scorching Type R variant

Big boot, efficient diesel engine, lots of equipment
Noisy petrols, styling, rear visibility, expensive range-toppers

Sponsored Links

The Honda Civic first went on sale in 1973 – a year before the all-conquering Volkswagen Golf. Now in its ninth generation, the Civic is a well-specced family hatchback with a range of petrol and diesel engines and has established a hard-to-beat reputation for reliability.

Since going on sale in 2011, the Honda Civic has undergone a series of tweaks and updates, with changes to the suspension and steering back in 2014. This year it was given a range of cosmetic alterations to bring it in line with the facelifted Ford Focus, new Peugeot 308 and ever-stylish SEAT Leon. New headlamps with LED daytime running lights, a reshaped bumper and revised rear spoiler are all included – as is a brand-new Civic Sport trim.

While arguably not as exciting to drive or look at as its main rivals (the Type R model takes care of that), the Honda benefits from impressive equipment levels. Kicking off the range is the basic S spec – ahead of mid-level SE Plus, SR and range-topping EX Plus. The Sport slots in between the SE Plus and SR models and is bar far the most stylish looking car in the range. Bluetooth and sat-nav come as standard on SR and EX Plus models and can be added to the S, SE Plus and Sport specs as part of the Navi pack.

Best hatchbacks on the market

There are three engines to choose from, including a frugal 1.6 diesel offering 78.5mpg. Petrol buyers can opt for the entry-level 1.4-litre but most will have an eye on the strong but noisy 1.8 i-VTEC. As of July 2015 hot hatch enthusiasts will be able to finally get their hands on the storming 306bhp Civic Type R, which we've recently driven.

There’s stop-start tech as standard across the entire Honda Civic line-up, helping save fuel by shutting down the engine when you stop. Honda has fitted an ECON button, too, which adjusts throttle response and the car’s air-con usage to improve fuel economy.

Those in need of more practicality can opt for the Honda Civic Tourer, an excellent estate that boasts an impressive 624 litres of boot space.

Our choice: Civic 1.6-litre i-DTEC SE Plus Navi

Engines, performance and drive


The Honda Civic’s fluid-filled rear suspension bushes mean the ride is nice and smooth, and it’s almost as comfortable on UK roads as the Volkswagen Golf. Thanks to its slippery aerodynamics the Civic doesn’t suffer from too much wind noise either, so it’s pretty quiet on the motorway, adding to the relaxing overall feel.

A 2014 update saw some improvements to the car’s front and rear dampers to make it better to drive and more comfortable on the move, but the changes are very small and most buyers may struggle to notice any difference. The new electric power steering system is smooth but it doesn’t have much feel at higher speeds, leaving the Civic a less engaging drive than the Ford Focus.

On the engine front, the choices are 99bhp 1.4-litre and 140bhp 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrols, as well as the 118bhp 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel. All models come with a smooth-shifting six-speed manual as standard, but a five-speed automatic is also available as an option with the 1.8-litre i-VTEC unit. Do be aware that opting for the automatic box means you have to go without the fuel-saving stop-start system, though.

The 1.6 i-DTEC diesel is the best option when it comes to blending performance and efficiency, as you get plenty of pulling power thanks to 300Nm of torque and Honda claims you’ll be able to return over 78mpg. Not too shabby, considering 0-62mph takes 10.5 seconds and in this guise the Civic tops out at 129mph.

This makes it only slightly slower than the 1.8-litre i-VTEC, which can see off 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds on course to 134mph. We’d advise against this engine though, as it needs to be revved quite hard to perform well and gets noisy.

The new Honda Civic Type R brings a new level of performance compared to the old car, with over 100bhp more thanks to the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine. It's extremely fast, highly entertaining and has an astonishing amount of grip, but we'll have to see if it can oust established rivals such as the SEAT Leon Cupra and Renault Megane RS.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


There's no hybrid model of the Civic, but the diesel engine does a good job of keeping running costs as low as possible. The petrol engines are decent as well - the 1.4-litre i-VTEC petrol will return 52.3mpg and emits 129g/km of CO2, while the 1.8 i-VTEC gets 48.7mpg and 137g/km, or a slightly less impressive 44.8mpg and 148g/km when paired to the auto ‘box.

However, it’s the 1.6-litre diesel that is the cheapest Civic to run as it can return a near Golf BlueMotion-rivalling mpg figure of 78.5mpg and emits only 94g/km of CO2. It’s definitely the engine to go for if you look to keep an eye on running costs.

The 306bhp Type R, as you'd expect, pushes insurance and general running costs to new heights. But it still claims a decent 38.7mpg combined, with CO2 rated at 170g/km.

The most recent Honda Civic is cheaper to insure than the previous model thanks to lower insurance groups, and with strong residual values across the range, you’ll get a lot of your money back come resale time despite the lack of a standard extended warranty.

Interior, design and technology


If you’re in the market for a compact hatch, it’s likely that the Civic’s design will have either drawn you in or put you off. It doesn’t look like any other car in the class, thanks to its bulbous body, short bonnet and rounded rear end. The ninth-generation model is an evolution of the car that came before it, although for some, the toned-down lines aren’t quite as appealing as the out-there looks of its predecessor.

Up front, the previous Civic’s light bar makes way for a gloss black bumper and grille, while LED running lights were added as part of the 2015 update. These pick out the lower edge of the headlamp units and, unless you’re a Civic aficionado, are about the only noticeable change to the exterior.

LED lights are standard and the distinctive split rear screen – similar to that found on now-defunct CR-Z – is carried over, but comes with a much-needed windscreen wiper this time around. Visibility is still severely compromised, but the standard reversing camera helps reversing in tight car parks.

The Civic’s high-quality interior is better overall than the Ford Focus or Kia Cee’d, but doesn’t feel as upmarket as a Golf and suffers from an odd dashboard layout. Depending on your seating position the steering wheel blocks the speedometer and the various screens reflect in the windscreen at night, which can be distracting. That said, the 2015 update included a new Android-operated touchscreen for top-spec models, making the Civic’s infotainment system much easier to use.

All models (spec levels include S, SE Plus, Sport , SR and flagship EX Plus) come equipped with climate control, USB connectivity and 16-inch alloy wheels. SE Plus adds accessories such as cruise control, a parking camera, front fog lights, dual-zone climate control and automatic wipers and lights, while the Sport gets gloss-black wheels, sleek side skirts and a body-coloured spoiler. Top-of- the-range EX Plus Civics get a panoramic sunroof and privacy glass (fitted on SR, too), plus 17-inch alloys and keyless entry & go. Bluetooth and sat-nav come as standard on SR and EX Plus models and can be added to the S, SE Plus and Sport specs as part of the Navi pack.

The extreme Type R is marked out by its huge rear wing, bulging wheelarches, active aerodynamic add-ons and large alloy wheels. It's certainly noticeable, but it won't appeal to all as it looks a little aftermarket and over-the-top.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


The clever ‘Magic Seat’ rear bench means that you can fold the seats flat when you want to carry longer items, or flip the seats up cinema-style when you want to transport taller loads. The boot offers 477 litres of space (including 76 litres within an under-floor compartment), which is a massive 161 litres more than the Ford Focus and bigger than the 380-litre offering from the VW Golf.

The low loading lip makes it easy to load big items into the car, but there's no spare wheel. And while thin A-pillars make forward visibility good, chunky rear pillars mean reversing is awkward. Plus, although the split rear screen has been lowered, it still interferes with your view out of the back. 

The Honda Civic's dimensions are 4,300mm long, 2,065mm wide and 1,590mm tall so it's quite a size, but the huge boot space does eat into passenger space slightly. The gradually sloping roofline limits headroom for those in the rear and the rear bench is a little narrow, making it difficult to carry three adults in comfort. In terms of kerbweight it ranges from 1,273kg to 1,416kg.

Reliability and Safety


Honda has a strong reputation for building reliable cars, and the Civic is unlikely to let you down. In our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey, it placed 41st out of 200 cars. Owners rated the Honda’s practicality and running costs, and also praised reliability.

The Civic earned a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating in 2012, but if you want collision warning, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition, you have to fork out £600 for the Driver Assistance Safety Pack. 

Disqus - noscript

sakandar awan shaib

tehseen ahmad pbor officer

4 stars for reliability on a Honda??? which car gives five?

Bland styling? Making a pig from the previous model's silk purse, I'd say.

Be interesting to see if estate styling saves it.

Not a Honda lover, but dont understand how AE can give each subheading 4/5 stars, then the overall car 3/5 stars???

How exactly does that work? Do all cars loose a star for not being called a VW Golf or BMW.... Pffffttt!

v reg honda civic aerodeck 1600 estate,does it have an alarm systom ,

just bought v reg honda civic aerodeck and does it have an alarm,,,,

Wow, aren't you biased. Bland stilling? Compare this to the golf. It's got more character inside and out than any vw product that comes to mind. Germans have invaded Britain it seems (or at least eye from Berlin watches closely)

The terrible styling ruins the car. Rear lights bulge out looks stupid.

I just saw one driving home from work. Must say it looks better in metal than in pictures. But still Honda could've scored more sales by fixing the car's confused front.

Bland styling? It looks really good, almost italian style, very dynamic. People have to see it in the flesh, with the right color and wheels.

Why don't Honda use cameras for the rear view instead of mirrors then it does not matter about the shape of the rear window . How slow are these car makes on picking up on such matters !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've just ordered by 2.2 EX GT in white as a company vehicle after test driving one for 2 days. I have the 8th Gen 2.2 ex civic '09' which I am now tired of with such a hard ride, noisey cabin and everytime you hit a cats eye you feel like you'd curbed the wheels. The dash is everso slowly starting to offer me rattles. The new model is far superior, more comfortable and I think looks great. With more tech inside which I love and they've maintained the space in the rear cabin and the boot which is a plus for me. I agree from the outside, it's not a major change from the old civic but why change? the simple mods Honda have made simply enhance the vehicle especially on fuel efficiency & handling. I've read many reviews how the new interior is confusing to master but I seemed to pick this up quite quickly. (it comes with a manual) The improved suspension is a major plus in the new model along with the leather seats, this car can be driven all day without a twinge in the lower back. Since January 2013 this model now comes with a DAB radio as standard however the only minor moan I have is the sat maps could be of a little better quality. Not much has vastly changed from the old model in that regard. The refined engine is just as responsive as the old however a little less immediate torque in my opinion so I wont be driving around with the eco button switched on to much unless driving through town or in heavy traffic. I'm in my 5th year with my current civic and I have to say it's never been in the garage for anything other than a service or MOT... great reliable vehicles. Although I've always had a love hate relationship with my current Honda, I never tire from getting in it seeing the whole console light up. Here's looking forward to it's biger brother when it arrives.

Bought a new civic 12 months ago,BEWARE honda have problems with the stop start systems on all the range but continue selling their cars without telling anyone,mine does not work at all and they keep fobbing me off but its ok they got my £20,000 so it does not matter to them don,t let this happen to you what a no morals car company I am lost at what to do next

In what world does a golf have more interesting styling than a civic? No matter how much VW try the golf, to quote my wife, always looks like an old mans car. She's right too. Also owned two VAG efforts, Golf GTI and Seat Leon sport and both caught fire due to ignition coil issues! I've owned 4 Honda's and nothings ever gone wrong with any of them.
The days of reliable German cars is over I'm afraid. Its Japanese all the way to those in the know.

how dare you dis-respect the 1.8 i-VTEC - it is probably the best petrol engine fitted to any car today, and as for the insane comment ' needs lots of revs and then becomes noisy ! that 'noise' as you call it is wonderful and designed to be like that. it's like saying a F1 car is 'noisy'. also how do you get 3 out of 5 ? if you add all scores and average them you get 4 - such bias does not become your magazine, and while you are at it get some testers who do not rate a handbag hook above a beautifully engineered engine and gearbox.

They do, shame about the crappy review which didn't tell you.

I fully agree with everything you say as i owned a wonderful mk 8 Civic with that magnificent engine. Superb performance, economy and sound.

They have no sympathy or consideration for people who drive shorter distances. I drove the old shape Honda civic 1.8 and thought it drove like a ford escort 1.6 at the time and found it quite boring so I ended up with a fiat bravo 1.4 150 turbo. I am still a bit on edge with how much torque the new shape honda civic has, very low comparing to ford focus 1.6 150 ecoboost. I am battling a no win situation here in finding the right vehicle for myself. There is no perfect car for what I have seen and if there is there is no way I can afford it because of being either new or always put the technology in bigger cars for a high costs.

Of course as we all realise had the car had a VW badge then the score would have been so much higher

Biased gibberish!!

What's wrong with it?

This is the first I've heard of such an issue.

The car comes with a 3 year warranty so if they can't fix the issue, then surely you can get a new car.

The ES/EX models come with a reversing camera.

Last updated: 23 Jul, 2015