SHARP AND EDGY: HONDA BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO THE CIVIC HATCH­BACK

Honda’s new Civic has a fresh face and some neat touches, but are they enough to make it a suc­cess­ful pack­age? Jack Evans finds out

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE BY JACK EVANS

WHAT’S NEW?

As one of Honda’s most suc­cess­ful cars, the Civic is hugely im­por­tant to the brand. Hav­ing sold in ex­cel­lent num­bers, the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion car has now been re­placed with an all-new model, which sports a rather more sa­loon-like hatch­back shape.

Set to of­fer bet­ter space, com­fort and driver in­volve­ment, the new Civic is set­ting out to be all things to all peo­ple.

With just two en­gines to test from launch – a 1.5-litre and 1.0-litre petrol with ei­ther a six-speed man­ual or CVT au­to­matic gear­box – the new Civic is al­ready able to boast a pair of ex­cel­lent pow­er­trains, which should help bring it in line with ri­vals, both in terms of econ­omy and power.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

Look at the new Civic, and you’d be hard-pressed to see its re­la­tion to the pre­vi­ous car. Cer­tainly, it shares the an­gu­lar lines of the ve­hi­cle it re­places, but it re­ally is all-new to look at. The front of the car sports a dy­namic front split­ter, while the sharp, edgy de­sign theme is car­ried on along the ex­te­rior. The rear of the car sports a hatch­back Con­tin­ued on Page 2 >>

boot lid, which, though large, is easy to op­er­ate.

The arches have just enough flair to be sporty, while a spoiler mounted half­way down the rear of the car – a nod to the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Civic – main­tains this theme.

Honda’s rep­u­ta­tion re­mains one of a brand that pro­duces hon­est, good-han­dling and re­li­able cars. With the pre­vi­ous Civic of­fer­ing all three of these point­ers, the new car is in good stead to be able to give them to cus­tomers too.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY The new Civic is be­ing pitched as a car that re­ally can of­fer driv­ers prac­ti­cal­ity in spades – and it cer­tainly achieves this. The boot, which comes in at a re­spectable 478 litres, is quite deep and square, mak­ing it ideal for larger items. It also has a hor­i­zon­tally op­er­ated ton­neau cover – you pull the cover across the boot area, pro­tect­ing it from pry­ing eyes.

What’s the ben­e­fit of this you may ask? The cover rolls into a holder mounted at the side of the boot, which is a lot smaller than a con­ven­tional par­cel shelf. It’s about the size of a loaf of bread and can eas­ily be re­moved and taken away – sim­ple.

WHAT’S UN­DER THE BON­NET? Two en­gines are avail­able from launch. There’s a 1.0-litre tur­bocharged petrol, which pro­duces 127bhp and emits 117g/km CO2 while re­turn­ing around 55.4mpg com­bined – though it’ll hit 60mph in a re­spectable 10.7 sec­onds.

There’s also a 1.5-litre tur­bocharged petrol, and this puts out 179bhp while emit­ting 133g/ km CO2 and re­turn­ing around 46.3mpg. Both are avail­able with ei­ther a six-speed man­ual or CVT au­to­matic. That man­ual ‘ box is newly de­signed to of­fer smoother and more pre­cise shifts than be­fore, and boy does it do both of those things.

There’s set to be a diesel op­tion ar­riv­ing in late 2017, though de­tails of this have yet to be re­vealed. There is, of course, a hot Type R ver­sion set to speed into show­rooms in the sum­mer of this year, which will no doubt be pop­u­lar with en­thu­si­ast driv­ers just as much as the pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tion was.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL We got be­hind the wheel of the 1.0-litre-pow­ered Civic. Though small in ca­pac­ity, it’s able to of­fer an im­pres­sive 200Nm of torque - some­thing which makes a car an aw­ful lot eas­ier to live with on a day-to-day ba­sis.

Around town, the first thing that be­comes im­me­di­ately no­tice­able is the ride. It’s al­most un­nerv­ingly com­posed, which makes it in­cred­i­bly re­lax­ing. The steer­ing, which has a good amount of weight to it, makes it easy to po­si­tion and thread the car through smaller spa­ces usu­ally found in busy towns and cities.

It comes fit­ted with dy­namic steer­ing, which ef­fec­tively lessens the amount of lock you have to ap­ply in or­der to make sharper turns, and while it can feel a lit­tle un­nat­u­ral at first, you soon be­come ac­cus­tomed to it.

Add a bit more speed to the mix

“SET TO OF­FER BET­TER SPACE, COM­FORT AND DRIVER IN­VOLVE­MENT, THE NEW CIVIC IS SET­TING OUT TO BE ALL THINGS TO ALL PEO­PLE.”

and you quickly find that the new Civic has a huge amount of ta­lent dy­nam­i­cally. It cor­ners with an im­pres­sive amount of sta­bil­ity, ac­com­pa­nied with zero body roll and a level of poise that would put a lot of cur­rent hot hatches to shame. You have to re­ally try hard to push it into un­der­steer, with bends un­der­taken for the most part with min­i­mal fuss but a huge amount of grip.

In all the Civic is a hugely en­ter­tain­ing car to drive, and one which is sur­pris­ing in the way it han­dles!

VALUE FOR MONEY The Honda Civic fit­ted with a 1.0-litre en­gine and sit­ting in SR trim costs £20,180. With this, you get 17-inch wheels as stan­dard, as well as cli­mate con­trol, au­to­matic lights and wipers as well as a larger touch­screen. For the first time in a Civic, Ap­ple Carplay has been added, along with An­droid Auto, which gives greater lev­els of smart­phone in­te­gra­tion.

It’s not a bad place to be at all, and for the price, it cer­tainly feels like a good deal. Driv­ers who wish to have the ex­tra grunt the larger 1.5-litre en­gine af­fords will have to take on a £2,290 premium over the smaller en­gine.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE? The Civic re­ally should ap­peal to most peo­ple. With two eco­nom­i­cal yet pow­er­ful en­gines to choose from, buy­ers won’t have too much trou­ble pick­ing the Civic. It’s great to drive, good look­ing and spa­cious too. In short, it’s just about ev­ery­thing you could want from a hatch­back, and more to boot.

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