Honda Civic 1.6 I-DTEC EX
New Civic now offers an alternative to petrol power: a 1.6 diesel
Honda’s 10th-generation Civic has already impressed us with its comfortable ride and well roundedness as a family hatchback but, until now, we’ve had the option of only two petrol-powered engines to choose from – ballistic Type R aside.
The car you see here, then, is the first – and only – diesel variant to be offered to UK buyers. It features a revised 1.6-litre four-cylinder I-DTEC engine, which, Honda claims, is good for 80.7mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 93g/km.
It’s a refined if not particularly athletic engine that will take to the task of long-distance touring without batting an eyelid. At motorway speeds, it’s barely audible and the revised chassis that Honda spent so much time and effort perfecting for the new model soaks up imperfections with little fuss whatsoever – even with the adaptive dampers in their firmest setting.
On a more challenging road – of which there were few on our Italian test route – the Civic feels confident in its dynamic abilities. Turn-in is quick enough and body roll is negligible, but this isn’t a car that shines or stands out next to rivals such as the Ford Focus and Seat Leon.
The diesel powerplant lacks a bit of in-gear get-up-and-go at higher speeds too. Peak torque comes in at 2000rpm, so there’s a need to work the six-speed manual gearbox if you want to make any meaningful progress. However, because it’s direct in its action and with a pleasingly short throw, we’re more inclined to overlook this.
Similar to its petrol-powered range-mates, the Civic diesel’s interior is decidedly more upmarket than that of its predecessor. Softtouch plastics feature on the top of the dashboard and, although it may not possess the visual appeal or material quality of, say, an Audi A3, it’s certainly not a place in which you’ll lament spending time. Rear leg room is good, too, but that swooping roofline does compromise head space a touch.
All in all, this is a very likeable car. But unless you’ll be spending most of your time on the motorway, the petrol models offer the same benefits, with a cheaper asking price. We’d be inclined to go for one of those if it were our money.
Refined 1.6-litre diesel has a healthy 221lb ft at 2000rpm and suits motorway use