Some cars stand the test of time. One is the Honda Civic. The Civic, now in its eleventh generation, has been with us for most of my life, having launched in 1972. My first meeting with the Civic came when a friend’s mum bought a Mark 1 three-door hatchback. It was exciting, even finished in an unfetching brown, in a motoring beige Britain where Ford, Vauxhall, and good old British Leyland were the traditional fare for most families up and down the country.
It wasn’t the biggest car, but it was different. Half a century later, the Civic is still going strong with around 30 million sold globally. The fact it is still going around and still called Civic, 51 years later, is testimony to its popularity and place in motoring history.
Just as sales have grown, so have the Civic’s proportions. Mine have too, but this roomy family car has matured gracefully and this latest incarnation is a stylish cracker. It builds on the Civic’s design cues but with a longer wheelbase, shorter rear overhang and lower roofline making it even more coupé-like without sacrificing the practicality and space loyal owners cherish. Now available only as a five-door hatchback – the dowdy saloon was dropped four years ago – the powerplant choice has also been reduced to just one, a petrol-engined hybrid, which forms part of Honda’s electrification strategy.
The e:HEV hybrid power is clever, bringing the best of both worlds, by making the most of both petrol and electric power depending on the driving style. The Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (i-MMD) features a 141bhp 1,993cc petrol engine, twin electric motors providing 181bhp and a 1.05kWh battery, mated to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. The electric motors drive the front wheels most of the time, powered by the battery or engine. We’ll discuss more about how it works in the next report, but progress happens seamlessly, making it easy to drive. I’m really impressed.
The Civic is refined, responsive and remarkably frugal. A long 70mph cruise, loaded up, returned 54.8mpg. Since then, mixed motoring has seen 57.9mpg overall, with more lower-speed, pure electric driving.
A 40-litre petrol tank still gives a range of almost 500 miles with a light right foot. The Civic cruises comfortably, soaks up bumpy B-roads and corners crisply with little body roll.
There are two ways to get to know a car quickly. I achieved both within a few days of taking delivery of this long-term test car. Yet another rail strike saw good old grandad turn taxi to take daughter-in-law Anya and baby Rudi home after a few days with us. I was surprised at how quickly I gelled with the Civic, spending the 350-mile round trip discovering surprise-and-delight features among the comprehensive specification on this range-topping Advance model.
What also gelled with the car, or rather splattered across the front, was an abundance of bugs that were well and truly encrusted on the paintwork. That meant a good wash before a photoshoot. Washing the Civic by hand made me appreciate its ‘clean’ flowing lines, smart curves, and sharp styling. It is easy to drive and a doddle to clean, too!
Three adults – my wife joined our mercy mission – and 11-month-old Rudi in his Isofix car seat confirmed how spacious the Civic is. We were still comfortable after nearly seven hours of travelling with a half-hour break for refuelling with some food.
Rear legroom is plentiful, headroom adequate despite that stylish sloping roof, but duck your head getting into the back to avoid nutting the door frame. That said, you soon learn your lesson and will do it only once.
The well-shaped 404-litre boot swallowed a large, wheeled holdall, some baby clutter, and a bulky pushchair with room to spare, even with poor packing. It took longer for grandad to get the pushchair apart!
I’ve really engaged with the Civic. There is so much to like and I am relishing getting to know it better over the coming weeks.
Date arrived 30th August 2023 (Originally registered 7th October 2022)
Costs None Faults None