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The Honda Civic is now hybrid only - but it's also fantastic to drive!
The Civic name has always conjured up thoughts of sportiness and bohemianism. So, imagine everyone's surprise when Honda announced that its new 11th generation model was only going to be available with a sole petrol hybrid variant.
Sure, the Type R is still going to be a thing, but all other Civic's will carry the e:HEV moniker, and also a less-aggressive exterior design. So it's more sensible then? Well, yes, and at the same time, a resounding no.
At the heart of the new Civic is a 2.0-litre 181bhp petrol hybrid powertrain, connected to a single-speed CVT automatic gearbox. It's not very often that a hybrid powertrain can offer effective duality, with calm and collected efficiency, as well as genuine entertainment - but this Civic pulls it off.
When nipping about town the intuitive hybrid system holds onto all-electric EV mode for the majority of the time. In many hybrids, the engine is all too keen to grumble into life and take over - that's not the case with the new Civic. Of course, it's not going to spend as much time in EV mode as a plug-in hybrid, but honestly, it doesn't feel far off.
This EV power has the added benefit of instant torque too, which is very welcome when it comes to nipping in and out of busy roundabouts and junctions. The regenerative braking on the Civic is also gradual and non-intrusive, and you can dial in its severity via the steering-wheel paddles. The ride is also supple and cabin noise is kept relatively in-check, although tire roar is still rather prominent at motorway speeds.
The way in which the Civic cleverly toggles between EV, hybrid and petrol power results in excellent fuel economy. Officially, Honda claims an average of 57mpg - and we'd say that's pretty easy to achieve. In fact, if driven eco-consciously, mid 60s isn't beyond the realms of possibility.
Put your foot down and the Civic's tranquil hybrid character falls away. Although it has a single-speed CVT, the Civic seemingly riffles through non-existent gears under heavy acceleration. The Civic's steering is on the weightier side and is fairly responsive - which when paired with its low ride and responsive throttle, makes for a rather sporty experience. Honestly, it's pretty astonishing how much fun can be had behind the wheel.
The Civic's cabin design is another big area of change. Gone is its chunky, two-tier dashboard. Instead, we get an incredibly clean-cut, modern design, with physical climate control buttons, a nicely-integrated screen, a digital instrument cluster behind the wheel and a slick chicken wire-esque air vent motif running from one end of the dash to the other. It's not overly flashy, but it's functional and smart.
Admittedly, the touchscreen system is still a little clunky in places, although nowadays we tend to rely more on our phone's integrated features via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay anyway - and the Civic features both of these as standard. Other impressive entry-level features include heated seats, a reversing camera and sat nav.
Practicality in the Civic is a little hit and miss. While its back seats have a saloon-like amount of legroom, the sharply-raked roofline means that anyone approaching six foot is going to have their hair flattened. And while there's enough elbow room to sit three adults side-by-side, the large hump in the floor means you'll be fighting for leg room.
The boot is a bit more well-rounded, with 410 liters of space with the seats in place, and up to 1,220 liters with the seats folded down. Those figures place it somewhere between the Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia. You get a clever, compact parcel shelf too, which when rolled up and removed is about the size of an 1980's mobile phone.
There is a rather large load lip you'll have to work around, and a bump in the floor when the seats are folded, but in terms of usable space, the Civic is certainly better than average.
Honda Civic e:HEV 2.0 Advance
Residual value: 43.61%
Service, maintenance and repair: £1,828
Cost per mile: 47.60p
Fuel consumption: 56.5mpg
CO2 (BIK %): 114g/km (27%)
BIK 20/40% a month: £154/£309
Luggage capacity: 410 litres
Engine size/power: 1,993cc/141hp with twin electric motors