Latest update - Honda Civic long-term test
07 September 2017
Author: Rachel Boagey
|P11D price £20,285|
|As tested £20,865|
|Official consumption 46.3mpg|
5th report - Open sesane
A few years ago, my grandfather bought a Renault Scenic and - despite us telling him over and over - he continues to keep his car key on the front windowsill of the house, right next to the drive, meaning the car is almost never locked. Did I say that out loud?
While remote locking is an extremely useful function when you approach the car with your hands full of shopping bags, I am always worried about whether the car has really locked when I reach the doors of the supermarket and can no longer see it to check.
I was quite glad, therefore, when I was handed a standard electronic key for the new Civic, meaning I can hit the lock and unlock button manually when I am within just a few feet of the car and can be sure that my car is locked wherever in the house I choose to dump my key after a long day of driving.
But it turns out that even this manual electronic key may not ensure you lock or unlock the Civic successfully. Click once and nothing happens; click twice a bit harder and you might be lucky to hear that unlocking sound; but it's usually third time lucky for this key fob - pretty annoying when you've already spent three minutes fumbling in your handbag to try and find it.
I thought it was a bit strange having problems with the key fob battery just a few months into its life. But quite a few fellow motoring journalists I've spoken to are having the exact same problem. It seems the key fob has a mind of its own.
Another security bugbear that is coming to light is that you have to fully unlock the car to open the petrol cap. It may not sound like much, but I'm often travelling up and down the country on my own, and prefer the security of having the car locked when I get out to fill the tank. After all, who knows what may be lurking in that 487-litre boot.
Our average consumption 44.2mpg
4th report - Pet project
Looks may be subjective but practicality definitely is not.
While the new Civic's rear seats have been robbed of the magic flip-up mechanism on the previous model, the latest Civic's boot is still pretty clever, not to mention big.
With 420 litres of storage, or 478 if you open the under-floor storage compartment, it is one of the best boots in its class, bigger than the Volkswagen Golf and the Seat Leon, which both offer just 380 litres.
With the rear seats folded down you can gain another 408 litres, but a medium-sized border collie proved this extra space is not always necessary, even for a long road trip from Cardiff to London. In fact, she was as happy as I with the standard boot size, which also conveniently meant her dribble was contained to one part of the car. If needed, however, the seat bases can also fold up allowing you to carry tall items in the rear foot-well without much of an issue.
To make loading easier, the boot opening is now wider than the previous model, and there is a handy extendable parcel shelf that can be pulled across to hide valuables or removed to give the dog a good view.
Practicality in the cabin isn't too bad either, with several storage compartments dotted around, as well as a nifty sliding dual cup holder in the centre console and door pockets big enough for the large bottle of water I like to bring on long journeys.
There is plenty of legroom in the whole cabin, as well as headroom in the front, thanks to Honda's decision to relocate the fuel tank from under the front seats to a spot in front of the rear axle. This means even tall passengers will feel like they have enough room to move about. In the back, the Civic's sloping roofline means headroom is a bit tighter, and the Golf feels more spacious in this respect. Overall, the Civic is a spacious ride for humans and animals alike, and although it's not as smart as it once was for storage, it has kept its reputation for practicality very much intact.
Our average consumption 43.2mpg
3rd report - A complex affair
While it's still a pleasure to jump inside, and admire the busy and angular styling cues adopted by Honda in the new Civic, there are some flaws that are coming to light.
The first thing passengers comment on is the 7in touchscreen display that dominates the dashboard and houses the second-generation Honda Connect infotainment system, encompassing everything from the satnav to internet browsing and smartphone functionalities.
Despite its good looks, even after a couple of months and almost daily driving, the Connect system is still quite fiddly and difficult to use, with the layout of the interface being quite convoluted and complex.
A problem arising from what we assume is Honda's attempt to have fewer complexes is that all physical buttons on the system have been removed and replaced with touch-sensitive versions. While this design choice may look sleek and stylish, it's infuriatingly difficult to use, especially when on the move. In fact, adjusting the volume when driving proves difficult even with the large touch buttons on the screen. The system is, however, available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which really are saving graces here.
Of course, certain functions, such as changing the radio channel and adjusting volume, can be controlled by buttons on the steering wheel. While the buttons look cluttered and, not to mention, dated, they are reliable and far better to use while driving.
Despite the fiddly and frustrating nature of the Connect system, the sat-nav luckily pulls it out of the bag. It hosts some simple but intuitive features, such as 'spell town' and 'postcode', which come up almost straight away, unlike other systems that seem to make finding these functions far harder than it needs to be.
One big gripe, though, is the pinch and swipe functions on the sat-nav map. While it attempts to provide a sophisticated smartphone-like interface, the actions are delayed and cumbersome, and almost not worth using.
Connecting your phone through Bluetooth is a simple task and, once connected, the Apple CarPlay functions allow the complex nature of the Civic's interface to be rectified.
Our average consumption 42.5mpg
2nd report - A brisk performer
Only a few years ago, buying a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine would have caused a few sniggers from your mates in the local pub. But that is no longer the case as, now, these turbocharged babies are proving that downsizing can be fun.
This is especially the case with Honda's new Civic, which the manufacturer claims will regain the 'essence of Civic' with a distinctively sporty driving character, something undoubtedly missing from its predecessor.
In the last month of it being on our long-term fleet in its 'Brilliant Sporty Blue' colour, the car struggles to go a day without resulting in an unexpected glance and thumbs-up from a passing boy racer, especially with a pretty swift start at the lights aided by its short, precise gears and a light clutch.
It's not just the looks, sound and power that makes it stand out, though. On the road, the 1.0-litre engine is a gem, producing 129hp and propelling you from 0-62mph in
10.9 seconds, even paired with the manual gearbox. In fact, it's staggering that such a small engine can power such a large vehicle. The small three-cylinder provides enough oomph as well as pretty good mid-range pulling power when looking to build up speed on motorways.
There is a bigger engine on offer, the sportier 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol model, which offers 182hp and an 8.2-second 0-60mph speed. However, Honda expects most buyers to snap up the smaller engine and it's not hard to see why. The existing 1.6 i-DTEC diesel will be carried over and added later in the year.
Honda says the new Civic has a 1.0-litre engine that can propel you briskly along and, yet, return a claimed 55.4mpg. At the moment, not having reached 2,000 miles yet, the best we've managed so far is 42.2mpg but this may alter with the more miles we put on the clock.
In spite of this, the Civic is proving to be an enjoyable ride, and is a prime example that good engineering and innovation means that even the smallest of engines can create a big impact.
Our average consumption 42.2mpg
First report - To infinity and beyond
"It looks like something from outer space," mum shouted as I drove it onto her drive.
I would have to agree.
While it was a great car, the previous Civic faced an uphill battle in the small family car market against competition from the likes of the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra.
For this reason, Honda had to step it up a notch, which it decided meant starting from scratch. Everything is completely new: suspension arrangement, platform, engines, everything. So much so that it looks like Honda went to 'infinity and beyond' to rejuvenate its family car competitor.
At the heart of the new Civic are two petrol engines: an entry-level 127hp 1.0-litre and a 190hp 1.5-litre. Our long-termer is the former and with 200Nm of torque there is enough to get the car up to speeds quickly on motorways. However, the three cylinders means it is all talk at the traffic lights - slightly worrying when you find yourself next to a Civic Type R driver who fancies a drag race.
This Civic doesn't disappoint for potential fleet customers with 55.4mpg economy and 117g/km CO2 figures, and the six-speed manual gearbox is quite snappy leading to a fun and exciting drive. However, moving up to the 17-inch alloys in SR trim as we have done results in an 11g/km emissions penalty - something to bear in mind.
Honda believes this engine arrangement will be the best-seller with either six-speed manual or CVT automatic gearbox options, but a 1.6-litre diesel is to be added to the offering at a later date, which will be tuned for better fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Also available is a seven-speed CVT automatic, which we would avoid, especially paired with the 1.0-litre petrol as the gear changes are slow and jerky.
The Civic's steering is well-weighted and the car offers enough composure in the corners to inspire confidence. The new multi-link rear suspension allows for greater body control when cornering, helped by the lower and wider stance of the car. In total it is 30mm longer, 20mm lower and 30mm wider than the previous model - all of which, according to Honda, contribute to a lowered centre of gravity by 34mm and therefore a sportier drive.
Our car in the mid-range SR spec is equipped with the Honda Connect 2 infotainment suite, as well as front and rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloys, rear parking camera and dual-zone air-conditioning, all fitted as standard.
In this trim, the £20,865 price tag will get you the option of metallic paint at £525. Compared to its key rival, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost ST-Line Ford Focus, and without any add-ons, the Civic comes out £1,000 cheaper. It is also cheaper than the Golf, which is marginally more expensive and doesn't come as well equipped as standard.
The Civic has always prided itself on practicality, and headroom is plentiful up front and adequate in the rear, although six-footers may feel cramped for legroom over longer journeys. With the rear seats in place Honda claims a boot capacity of 478 litres, which is just one litre bigger than the previous car, but larger than many of its rivals such as the 380-litre boot offered by the Volkswagen Golf.
The Civic really stands out against its competitors in the whole-life costs department, thanks to a 35.0% residual value, which keeps pence-per-mile figures very competitive, despite its higher running costs.
While it may be on another planet with its design with busy lines and features we believe a myriad of changes under the bonnet and elsewhere will provide this family car with ample opportunity to compete with its fierce rivals and win over even the most sceptical of mums.
Our average consumption 42.8 mpg
- 17in alloys
- Dual-zone climate control
- Rear parking camera
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Honda Connect with Garmin 7in touchscreen navigation
- Halogen front fog lights
- Honda SENSING
- Apple CarPlay