Less Toblerone in shape, the new Civic is far more than cooking chocolate
The old Civic had plenty of fans, but it was due a major revision. It’s certainly got that, with Honda deciding to make a global car out of a model that was previously given different facets for different markets. Is the world ready for this?
It’s all new, but whether you think its appearance is superior to the car it replaces is very much up to the individual. Whatever your view, there’s no arguing with the completely new platform underneath which is a major step forward in several areas. To give just one example, the lateral stiffness is up 88%. That’ll do.
Honda Civic 1.0-litre i-VTEC Turbo SR
Engine 3 cyls, 988cc, turbocharged, petrol
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 126mph
Economy: 55.4mpg (combined)
CO2/BIK tax band: 117g/km, 20%
It also has a heavily upgraded and more sophisticated suspension, particularly at the rear, and that, combined with the new body, produces a handling and ride performance which is far superior to the outgoing model.
The Civic is bigger and wider than before, so that has also helped make for a more reassuring ride quality. The handling has a confidence and poise about it that was missing before, and the ride is comfy and controlled, without the sort of bumps and thumps that the old Civic let through so easily.
Handling is hardly sporty, but everything from steering to ride is gently controlled to instill confidence and a sense of ease as the miles pass. Helping this is a new cabin that is a big step forward.
It’s all high-quality plastics in that Honda way, but everything seems well placed and well designed, as if Honda decided to abandon trying to be quirky with the Civic and just made a really good interior. Which means it doesn’t have much character, but it does work very well, once you’ve got the rather laborious Honda Connect infotainment system working.
Naturally, given the extra wheelbase, there’s more space for all occupants, notably those in the rear, and the boot is spacious and features a split-level floor for security as well as extra space. The only loss is that of the ‘magic rear seats’ so you can no longer get your bike in the rear, it has to go in the boot with folded seats like all those other ‘normal’ cars.
In a world that is slowly but surely moving away from a love affair with the diesel engine, the new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine is a worthy entrant. Under most loads it sounds quiet although there is that characterful thrum of the triple to keep you amused. It’s a very modern engine, being tractable and reasonably quick for its size, while also keeping fuel consumption down – claimed consumption being 55.4mpg.
Honda spent a lot of money and effort developing this car and it shows. Whether you like how it looks is another matter, but under that skin this is a totally new car and a much better one than the car it replaces. The five-door will only be made in Swindon, and given the quality of the car seen here we’re sure that plant will be busy for some time yet.