Honda Civic review: is this British-built hatchback better than a Golf?

The British-built Honda Civic has evolved again. How does it stack up against some seriously good competition in the family hatchback market?
27 April 2017
by:   Chris Knapman

The latest version of the British-built Honda Civic represents a more conventional approach to building a family car than its predecessor. Sold as a five-door hatchback (no estate version is offered in the UK), it makes do without the ‘magic rear seats’ of the previous Civic, but gains a more sophisticated suspension set-up that promises improved ride comfort.

Honda offers petrol engines in 1.0- or 1.5-litre capacities with either a manual or an automatic gearbox, and there’s a 1.6-litre diesel set to join the line-up in due course.

The Civic’s rivals include the Volkswagen Golf, Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia and Vauxhall Astra.

In terms of interior space, the Civic is more of a rival to the Skoda Octavia than the VW Golf, with a large boot for this class of car (although the Skoda’s is bigger still). The low loading height and underfloor storage are bonuses, although there is a small ridge in the floor when the rear seats are folded.

Legroom is good for those in the rear, but headroom is tight for taller passengers, and like all the Civic’s rivals it’s a squeeze to get three across the back seats.

The front is roomy though, with lots of storage areas for your odds and ends.

One of the main areas Honda sought to improve with this new Civic was ride comfort. To that extent it uses the same design of rear suspension as most of its rivals, and is also available with adaptive dampers that constantly react to changing road conditions to give a smoother ride, or can be put into a firmer Sport mode to improve handling.

So far we’ve only tried the car on 17-inch wheels and with the adaptive dampers, which proved to be an impressive combination. Thus equipped, the Civic is a world away from its overly firm predecessor, and soaks up bumps and potholes with real composure, both at town speeds and on faster roads.

The driving position has much more adjustment than Civics of old and the seats themselves offer good support.

The 1.0-litre petrol engine makes a pleasant growl under acceleration, but the 1.5 starts to sound boomy when revved. Our only other gripe is the amount of tyre noise on poorly surfaced roads.

Honda has breathed new life into the Civic with this latest model, which now not only offers a big boot, but is also comfortable and fun to drive.

It’s not quite as good an all-rounder as a Volkswagen Golf, nor as roomy as a Skoda Octavia, but for something that occupies a solid middle ground between the two it represents an excellent choice.

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