Honda Civic Type S GT 2.2 i-CTDi

With its hidden rear door handles and angular shape, the five-door Civic is hardly a shrinking violet, but that hasn’t stopped Honda trying to give the three-door even more impact.

  • Unique styling, modern interior design, sharp handling, excellent build quality, smooth and refined engine, practical cabin
  • Poor rear visibility, heavy tailgate, crashy damping on really poor surfaces, speedometer can be hard to read for some drivers

With its hidden rear door handles and angular shape, the five-door Civic is hardly a shrinking violet, but that hasn’t stopped Honda trying to give the three-door even more impact. For starters, it boasts gunmetal-coloured trim around the wheelarches and sills, plus 17-inch alloys.

The doors and rear panels are also unique, but overall, thanks to the five-door’s adventurous styling, the Type S isn’t as different from its brother as the three-door versions of the C4 or Astra are.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the previous-generation Civic

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Nevertheless, the Honda is still the most unique car in the segment, and while its sharp angles, visor-like grille and bold rear end won’t be to all tastes, it’s still a brave piece of design.

It has substance, too. As with the five-door, by cleverly locating the fuel tank under the front seats, interior space has been maximised. The rear chairs offer the best legroom here, and a flat transmission tunnel means plenty of foot space for the middle seat occupant.

The sweeping C-pillars are close to your head, and leave you rather hemmed in, so it’s a good job GT models get a panoramic glass roof to brighten things up. The rear chairs fold flat in one easy action, while the 485-litre boot capacity is 171 litres up on the Citroen. And thanks to doing away with the spare wheel, there’s also an extra 70-litre space under the floor.

This goes to show Honda spent a lot of time thinking about functionality – as well as ensuring the rest of the cabin is as bold as the bodywork. The split-level dash places the important information high up, with secondary data and most of the switchgear lower down. Some testers have found the wheel obscures the speedo, but this aside, the ergonomics are close to flawless, while the driving position itself is excellent.

Poor rear visibility and blind spots caused by the rakish A-pillars are a problem, but otherwise the Civic cabin is a great place to be, especially as the materials and build quality are class leading. This engineering integrity can be found in the mechanicals, too. The Civic’s six-speed gearbox has a light and accurate shift, while the clutch, brake and throttle actions are all spot on.

Moreover, as we have said many times before, the 2.2 i-CTDi engine is fantastic. It’s free revving, impressively refined and punchy, too. Against the clock, the Civic traded times with the equally potent Astra across the board, but served up its power in a smoother way.

It remains our favourite diesel in this class, but while the engine is unchanged from the five-door, Honda’s engineers have given the three-door’s dynamics a sportier edge. Spring and damper rates have been altered and the rear track is 20mm wider. The suspension is still supple over all but the worst potholes, and the Type S is more composed and agile in corners than either of its rivals.

The steering is light, but the turn in is positive and there’s noticeably more feel than in the C4 or Astra – so while hot hatch fans still wait with bated breath for the Type R, the Type S certainly hints at its potential, and is fun to drive. Plus, stability control is standard fit, and the system is less intrusive than Citroen’s version.

The GT-spec Honda is very well equipped, too, as power fold mirrors, cruise control and sat-nav are all standard. Even with an £18,950 price tag, the British-built hatch will be hard to beat.

Details

Price: £18,950Model tested: Honda Civic Type S GT 2.2 i-CTDiChart position: 1WHY: Arriving in the UK in January, the Type S three-door is available with either the 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrol engine or 2.2-litre i-CTDi diesel. Standard and GT trims are on offer, and it’s the latter we try here with the 138bhp oil-burner.

Economy

An average of 37.8mpg isn’t that special when we’ve previously recorded 44.2mpg in a five-door Civic. However, the figure reflects the type of driving our test route covered, including heavy traffic and more time at the test track. In reality, you should expect to top 40mpg easily.

Residuals

Strong second-hand values are one of the key attributes of the new Civic. Figures for the Type S have yet to be calculated, but as a guide, the similar five-door Sport i-CTDi retains 48.1 per cent of its value, which is markedly better than either of the Honda’s rivals.

Tax

Emitting 138g/km of CO2, the Civic sits in the lowest tax bracket. Once the three per cent surcharge for diesels is taken into account, higher band owners would have an annual tax bill of £1,364, while those in the lower band would have to give the Government £750.

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