2022 Honda Civic review: Price, spec and hybrid performance IG News

1972 hasn’t been a bad year for the car world. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Lancia Stratos and Maserati Merak all arrived to blow off the socks of petrolheads. But even more mainstream and important models arrived this year. Cars like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Honda Civic, whose names are still going strong after half a century.

The Civic was Honda’s first car in the UK and much has changed in the intervening years, not the main purpose of the model. So beneath the new look and technology, this 11th generation is still a mainstream family hatchback designed to compete with the likes of Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308, Seat Leon and Toyota Corolla .

From the outside, the 11th generation is clearly an evolution of the previous car, but there have been significant structural changes to make the car lighter and stronger, as well as a major shift from pure petrol and diesel engines to a single full hybrid powertrain.

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The new Civic is partly longer and wider than the old car, with a slightly lower roof and shorter overhangs, but very clear links to the 10th generation car. After the wild styling of the 8th and 9th generations, the 10th and 11th have settled on a more conservative look that is in keeping with most of its rivals.

The most obvious difference comes in, where the extended wheelbase is fully committed to improving rear legroom. This is great news for the passengers and the rear passenger compartment of the Civic feels much more spacious than most C-segment hatchbacks. Front seat occupants enjoy the same level of space and comfort, with plenty of leg and shoulder room and a general sense of openness brought about by the cabin’s relatively simple design.

Honda does a great deal of “man-maximum, machine-minimum” engineering. In practice, this means keeping things simple for the driver, so the easy-to-use dashboard and controls are welcome. There’s no big jumble of buttons, but neither does the Civic rely on its nine-inch touchscreen for everything. It’s closer to the exemplary Mazda3 in that respect, with clear, tactile controls for key functions rather than the VW group’s destructive reliance on touchscreens.

It can’t quite match the premium feel of the Mazda, but the materials are easily on par with something like a Focus or Golf and touches like the honeycomb dashboard grille bring in an unusual and interesting detail. The only internal misstep is the drive selector taken from the CR-V, which looks like it was sourced from Fisher-Price.

Press materials for the new Civic Honda have dodged around words like “encouraging” to describe the driving experience, which seems like a stretch. Enable is probably more accurate. Like the previous model, it certainly handles pretty well but it’s not quite as sharp as the Ford Focus or Mazda 3. Steering is precise but doesn’t feel as immediate or communicative as its best rivals. Instead, there’s a definite inclination towards comfort with really good damping, a smooth ride and decent body controls. But, like its predecessor, the regular car has a hint that something faster and more attractive is waiting to be unlocked in the new Type R.

The same cannot be said for the engine. The Type R will get a straight petrol unit while the regular Civic gets a hybrid which completes the changes across Honda’s all-electrified mainstream line-up. This setup doesn’t lend itself to a hot hatch, but puts it face-to-face with the impressive Toyota Corolla – the only other full hybrid C-segment hatchback.

While the old car had a choice of an economical 1.0-litre or a sporty 1.5-litre petrol and a frugal 1.6-litre diesel, the new model has only one engine and transmission option. Honda says the new 2.0-litre e:HEV full hybrid delivers the economy of 1.0, the power of 1.5 and the torque of the diesel.

So, the four-cylinder engine and two electric motors produce a combined 181bhp and 232lb ft, offering 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds. Economy is quoted between 56 and 60mpg (depending on trim level) and emissions are as low as 108g/km.

The engine and transmission – an E:CVT which Honda’s top tech person insisted “does not have a gearbox” – are similar to the setup in the CR-V and HR-V, but redeveloped to deliver better power, torque and responsiveness Is.

On the road, even with the e-motor on, the Civic doesn’t feel immediately responsive, but it picks up speed fairly quickly and you won’t feel it’s lacking in power or torque. Depending on driving conditions, the hybrid uses electric power for low-speed driving, pure petrol for sustained high-speed cruising, and a combination of both in high-demand, heavy acceleration situations, unnoticed The given will switch between its three modes.

To address the criticisms of many hybrids, Honda has engineered the drivetrain with “Linear Shift Control”. This mimics the drop in revs when shifting gears in a manual car to give a more “assured” acceleration sound, rather than the rubber-band drone often associated with hybrids. It may not completely hide the features of the E:CVT but it is a marked improvement over the CR-V and HR-V.

The droning is less noticeable, thanks to good sound insulation, meaning you actually hear the engine under heavy throttle and making the Civic a pleasant long-range cruiser.

When it goes on sale later this year, the Civic will come in three trim levels – Elegance, Sport and Advance, with prices starting at £29,595.

All models include 17-inch alloys, a nine-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate, heated seats and the extensive Honda Sensing driver assistance suite. The Sport (£30,595) adds glossy black trim and larger wheels while at £32,995 the Advance comes with a 10.2-inch digital instrument display, 12-speaker Bose sound system, adaptive headlights, a heated steering wheel and panoramic sunroof.

Those prices reflect the added cost and relatively high standard specification of the hybrid drivetrain, but also set entry-level civics against higher-grade options from the likes of Ford and VW. A similarly designated and operated corolla, however, has broadly similar funds.

This difference in price may go against the Civic but it is trying hard to justify it. On first experience, it seems like a very capable all-rounder, worth considering against any other mainstream family hatchback. The drivetrain delivers impressive economy and a smooth feel while the interior space and simplicity make it stand out in a crowded market.

worth: £32,995; Device: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol, two electric motors; Power: 181bhp; Torque: 232lb ft; Transmission: e-CVT; top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds; Economy: 56.5mpg; CO2 emissions: 114 g/km

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