Honda Civic 1.8 Sport

Sporty Type S trim holds warm hatch appeal, – but is it still practical? Our favourite 5dr compact family model looks the same however many doors you want.

Family cars don’t come any more convincing than the Honda Civic. As our reigning New Car Honours class champion, it rules the family hatch roost – but its designers have bucked the current styling trend.

Unlike Citroen or Vauxhall, the Japanese maker has gone to great lengths to ensure its two Civic hatchbacks look as similar as possible. While rival firms have given their cars wildly different rear-end styling, you could be forgiven for getting the Japanese pair confused from a distance.

That’s because the more practical five-door features hidden rear door handles, which are concealed in the C-pillars. The visual trick works a treat from the outside – but what’s the Civic like to live with?

A huge boot, as well as versatile folding and lifting rear seats, mean the Honda is a supremely practical five-door, while the three-door comes with the same useful features. Legroom in the back seats is impressive on both variants, so the only major hurdle is access.

The smooth sliding mechanism for the front seats minimises the pain of climbing into the back, but there is a price to pay.

The three-door car’s longer front doors push the B-pillar rearwards, so reaching for the seatbelt is an uncomfortable stretch for occupants seated up front. And once you’ve climbed out of the rear, the seats don’t return to their previous position, so drivers will find themselves resetting their chair time and again.

Over-the-shoulder visibility is also marginally worse in the three-door bodystyle, although the outlandish styling means neither Civic offers a clear view.

Where the difference really tells is on the balance sheet. As our figures show, the mid-range three-door 1.8-litre Type S costs £450 less than the similarly equipped five-door Sport. However, take it back to the garage after three years and 30,000 miles to trade it in, and it’s a different story. Thanks to residual values of 45.6 per cent, the three-door will be worth £7,075.

The five-door car will be valued at only £6,799 – even though it cost more to buy in the first place. It depreciates more heavily, with a residual value of 42.6 per cent – as a result, you’ll save £726 by going for the three-door version.

This is a big difference when you consider that the Civics offer identical fuel economy and the same annual road tax bill of £145.To find variations between the two, you’ll have to look at the standard equipment lists. Honda relies on trim levels rather than appearances to distinguish its three and five-door Civics. The sporty three-door Type S we tested features Alcantara upholstery, a multifunction steering wheel and tuned suspension – all of which is missing from the five-door Sport’s kit list.

The slightly stiffer set-up fitted to the Type S also provides sharper responses without ruining ride comfort, making it the sportier choice. That tallies with its alloy wheels, spoilers and side sills, all of which give the Type S the feel of a junior Type R.

The five-door Sport shares the 17-inch wheel size of its three-door stablemate, and comes with a leather steering wheel and front foglights. However, if you really don’t need the ease of access provided by five doors, the three-door Civic is undoubtedly the pick of the range.

Details

Price: 3dr-£15,530 / 5dr-£15,980Model tested: Honda Civic 1.8 SportWHY: 3dr - Stylish three-door offers warm hatch looks at bargain price.5dr - Practical model is difficult to distinguish from its sportier counterpart.

Environment

There’s no environmental penalty for choosing three-door over five-door. The 1.8-litre has reasonable emissions and economy.

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