Honda Civic (2017-2021) Review
The new comfortable and agile Honda Civic is a big improvement on the previous model
Strengths & weaknesses
- Most efficient petrol engine is powerful
- Spacious interior
- High-tech options
- Some interior plastics feel cheaper than in rivals
- Poor automatic option
- Design won't impress everyone
The tenth generation Honda Civic was marketed with the slogan 'Dare to be different'. However, owners who are trading up from the previous model, might think that this is the most normal-looking Civic for years.
Gone is its predecessor's digital dashboard that showed your speed on a separate screen to your rev counter, and you now have a decent view out of the back of the car.
It all seems a bit conventional, but the most revolutionary changes have gone on underneath the metal. Stronger and lighter steel has enabled Honda to reduce the car's weight, so it feels more agile when changing direction in corners, and more sophisticated suspension means that the car will absorb bumps and smoopth out potholes much better than before.
It brings the new Civic close to the excellent Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 308 in terms of comfort and quietness, and improves on extremely competent cars including the Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane.
Underneath the bonnet, a new range of petrol engines bring performance and fuel economy to the Civic. Anyone used to the old Civic will find these are very different.
The older engines used technology called VTEC, which boosted power when you revved the engine. The new engines have added turbocharging, which increases power by squashing more air into the engine. It means that you no longer need to push hard on the accelerator to get a burst of speed: there's plenty of power available without having to rev them. Diesel models will arrive later this year.
Inside, the Civic is more straightforward than the previous model, with one display behind the steering wheel for crucial information. More expensive models get a large digital display in the dashboard too. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software gives you the option of replicating part of your phone's display on the dashboard, so it can be operated legally.
However, the interior isn't as clear and simple as a Vauxhall Astra or Mazda 3, there are still a bewildering number of plastics (some rough to the touch). In the back, the car's swooping roof affects the amount of headroom that rear passengers have.
Compared to other family hatchbacks, the Civic is among the best, but that's not the car's only competition. A starting price of £18,235 was £2,000 more than the cheapest Astra at the time, and close to the price of some crossovers, including the Renault Kadjar and Nissan Qashqai. These cars offer a similar level of comfort to hatchbacks, but also a higher driving position and extra interior space.
|Warranty||3 years / 60,000 miles|
|Boot size||478 litres|
Best Honda Civic for...
Best for Economy – Honda Civic 1.0-litre VTEC SE
The entry-level model comes well equipped and the tiny three-cylinder engine is the cheapest in the range to tax and run.
Best for Families – Honda Civic 1.5-litre VTEC Sport Plus CVT
The more powerful 1.5-litre engine copes better when the Civic is fully laden, while the CVT gearbox is very easy to live with day-to-day. As long as you don't require scintillating performance.
Best for Performance – Honda Civic 1.5-litre VTEC Prestige
The larger capacity engine is naturally the more potent, while the Prestige trim adds improved suspension, so you can select driving modes to suit your mood and the road.
One to Avoid – Honda Civic 1.0-litre VTEC EX CVT
The three-cylinder engine simply doesn't work as well with the CVT gearbox and this top-spec model gets expensive.
- March 2017 The latest verison of the Honda Civic goes on sale
- June 2021 Details announced of next-generation Civic, available exclusively as a hybrid, from Autumn 2022
Understanding Honda Civic names
Trim level SE
There are a perplexing seven trim variants in total, with the smaller 1.0-litre engine offered in S, SE, SR, and EX trim levels. The larger 1.5-litre petrol engine is available in Sport, Sport Plus and Prestige lines.
Engine 1.0-litre VTEC
Just two turbocharged petrol engines are available at launch and these are labelled VTEC. A diesel will follow shortly after.
Gearbox 6-speed manual
6-speed shows that the car has six gears, while a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) indicates an automatic car
Honda Civic Engines
1.0-litre and 1.5-litre
The trend for making engines smaller and turbocharging them and hasn't escaped Honda. The result is a new, small 1-litre engine that's impressively responsive - with plenty of power as soon as you press the acclerator. It also sounds sporty, with a pleasing thrum that's emitted from the tailpipes under hard acceleration.
You do have to make sure that it's in the right gear for maximum power, which can help to add to the driving fun, particularly if you like to zoom along B-roads, second-guessing the best gear for the next corner.
The larger 1.5-litre petrol is better suited to longer journeys and those looking to transport bulky items, as the additional torque helps with acceleration and pulling power, while it tends to sit at lower revs at motorway speeds, further reducing the pesky engine noise that can leak into the cabin.
0 - 62mph
Honda Civic Trims
S, SE, SR, EX, Sport, Sport Plus and Prestige
Seeing as new Civic doesn't actually hit showrooms until March, there will be some movement on the standard kit available across the range but we do know that even basic models come well equipped.
With regards to the 1.0-litre petrol engine models, the entry-level S grade is generously specified, and includes automatic headlights, adaptive cruise control and the Honda 'Sensing' suite of advanced active safety technologies.
This standard Active Safety Package includes a Collision Mitigation System, which helps to bring the car to a stop if the system determines that a collision with a vehicle detected in front is unavoidable.
Plus, there is a Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition and Road Departure Mitigation, which detects if the car is leaving its lane and gently applies some steering to counteract this.
However, entry level S grade isn't likely to be the most popular model, with customers expected to plump for the slightly better equipped trim levels.
Top spec EX models feature LED headlights, keyless entry and push-button start, power tilt panoramic sunroof, and premium audio system (11 speakers with 465 watts output). EX models are also fitted with the Dynamic Damper Control system.
There's also an EX 'Tech Pack' option, which adds LED headlights and fog lights, the wireless charging pad and rear heated seats for a price.
Trim levels for 1.5-litre petrol models differ slightly and begin with Sport models, which come generously equipped with 17-inch alloys, front and rear parking sensors, rear parking camera, the Honda Connect 2 infotainment suite, dual-zone air-conditioning, LED headlights, twin centre exhaust outlets and a sports body kit that includes a chin spoiler, rear bumper flourishes and side skirts.
Sport Plus models add power tilt panoramic sunroof, Dynamic Damper Control, the premium audio system, smart keyless entry and start, and a wireless charging pad in the centre console for compatible smartphones.
The Prestige grade builds on the Sport grade (excluding twin centre exhaust outlets and sports body kit), adding chrome front grille and door handle finishes, leather upholstery and heated rear seats.
Honda Civic Reliability and warranty
Honda offers a fairly standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty on all of its cars but the manufacturer has traditionally performed well in terms of reliability.
The previous generation Honda Civic sat towards the top of the overall scores table in the 2016 Auto Express Driver Power survey and scored an impressive seventh place out of 200 in the reliability stakes.
Build quality of Hondas is generally good, running costs are cheap and it loses value at a slow rate, compared with rivals, which help keps the cost of owning or financing the car low.