Honda Civic review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Honda Civic offers lots of equipment and some efficient engines to rival the Ford Focus and VW Golf

For: 
Big boot, efficient diesel engine, lots of equipment
Against: 
Noisy petrols, poor rear visibility, bland styling

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The Honda Civic, an alternative to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, has proved to be a popular choice in the UK with 650,000 models being sold since it arrived back in 1973. Although it may not be as exciting to drive as it rivals, the Civic does have an incredible reputation for reliability. There are four engines to choose from, kicking off with a frugal 1.6 diesel offering 78.5mpg and extending up to the strong 1.8 i-VTEC petrol.

Stop-start comes fitted as standard on all Civic models, shutting down the engine when you stop to save fuel. An ECON button is also standard, which adjusts throttle response and the car's air-con usage to improve fuel economy.

There's no three-door model, so the Honda Civic is five-door only. There's another option for those who want more practicality, too - the Honda Civic Tourer is actually an excellent estate and has a huge 624-litre boot.

A new Honda Civic Type R powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is also in the works for those after hot hatchback thrills, but it's not due on sale until 2015.

• New Honda Civic Type R review

Our choice: Civic 1.6-litre i-DTEC ES

Styling

3.2

Arguably one of the best looking hatchbacks, the previous Honda Civic was so far removed from anything we’d previously seen from the Japanese manufacturer. The updated mode retains its space age looks but adds black accents on the front and rear, while white interior stitching has been added inside, too.

LED lights are now standard and the distinctive rear split screen remains in this model, but this time a windscreen wiper has been added. It's better quality overall than the Ford Focus or Kia Cee'd, but it doesn't feel as upmarket as a Golf and the layout is odd. Depending on your seating position the steering wheel blocks the speedometer and the various screens still reflect in the windscreen at night, which can be distracting.

All models (spec levels include SE, ES, EX and flagship EX GT) come equipped with automatic air-con, USB connectivity and 16-inch alloy wheels. ES adds accessories such as cruise control, a parking camera, front fog lights, dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth, while top-of-the-range EX GT cars get a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and 17-inch alloys.

We’ve already seen the extreme Honda Civic Type R but we are yet to drive it. It’s marked out by its huge rear wing, bulging wheelarches and large alloy wheels.

Driving

3

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 wind noise, so it’s pretty quiet on the motorway.

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 some 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. The Ford Focus offers a more engaging drive.

As for engines, the choices are 99bhp 1.4-litre i-VTEC and 140bhp 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrols, as well as 118bhp 1.6-litre i-DTEC and 148bhp 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesels. All models come with a smooth-shifting six-speed manual as standard, but a five-speed automatic is available as an option on 1.8-litre i-VTEC models. Do be aware that opting for the automatic box means you have to go without the fuel-saving stop-start system, though.

Honda Civic 2014 rear tracking

The 1.6 i-DTEC diesel is the best option in terms of performance and efficiency - it has plenty of pulling power on the road and Honda claims you’ll be able to return over 78mpg. We’d advise avoiding the 1.8-litre V-TEC petrol, as it needs to be revved quite hard to perform well, which gets noisy.

The new Honda Civic Type R will bring more power to the range in 2015, and will likely be a fan favourite with hot hatch enthusiasts - just like previous Type Rs.

Reliability

4.2

Honda has a very good reputation for reliability, with the manufacturer finishing sixth out of 32 brands in the 2013 Driver Power satisfaction survey. Results for the 2014 Driver Power survey aren’t too far away and we’d expect Honda to score as well as ever.

As for safety, the Civic has a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating. That's partly because all Civics are fitted with a LED daytime running lights, ESP and ABS as standard. EX and EX GT models also get adaptive cruise control and a Collision Mitigation Braking System, which uses radar to detect imminent collisions at low speeds.

Practicality

3.8

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 but 113 litres and bigger than the 380-litre offering from the VW Golf.

Honda Civic 2014 interior

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 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.

Running Costs

4

There's no hybrid model of the Civic, but the diesel engines do 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.

The 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel returns 67.3mpg and emits just 110g/km. However, it’s the 1.6-litre diesel that is the cheapest Civic to run as it can return a 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 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 an extended warranty.

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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!!

Last updated: 22 Apr, 2014

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