New Civic now booted and suited
HONDA Civic buyers are now spoiled for choice – go for the already best-selling hatchback or opt for a new saloon version.
And while the saloon will be the smaller seller, it’s an ideal vehicle to help Honda regain Civic drivers who feel the latest hatchback is too aggressively styled for them.
For while the saloon is very similar, it’s definitely far more conservative and more in keeping with the age group which has traditionally been associated with Civic buyers.
Certainly the designers have done a great job in producing the new booted version and in many ways the rear looks sleeker than that of the hatch.
But it’s the lack of the boot spoiler, the much smaller air intakes at the front and the use of an upmarket chrome grille rather than the hard look of the black one on the hatch that will appeal.
The new saloon is available with the same choice of engines as the hatchback – a 1.6-litre diesel and a 1.0-litre petrol – but in both cases you will pay a £500 premium if you opt for the saloon.
Saloon prices range from £19,395 for the entry-level SE model rising to £27,120 for the top-of-the range EX diesel automatic.
In many ways the decision to offer a saloon version will come as a surprise to Civic fans.
For while there have been Civic saloons in the past, the Japanese car-maker chose not to offer one in this country on the previous, ninth-generation Civic model which ceased production in 2015 – although a left-hand drive saloon was built in Turkey mainly for that country.
Ironically, the saloon just announced will also be built at the Turkish factory, while the hatchback will continue to be made in the UK at Swindon.
From behind the wheel you are oblivious to whether you are driving booted or hatch as the interiors are identical, but certainly the ride and handling of the new saloon is just as good if not fractionally better.
It flows through tight bends and corners with consummate ease, with hardly any body roll but with a suspension set-up supple enough to placate the most critical of backseat passengers.
The rear seats are split 60:40 and the boot will hold 519 litres of luggage compared to the hatchback’s 477 litres with the seatbacks upright.
At the same time as announcing the saloon, Honda has also decided to offer a new nine-speed automatic gearbox in all of its 1.6-litre dieselpowered Civics.
There’s no gear shift – just a single press on a button marked D/S gets you under way. A second stab of the button changes the mode from normal drive to sport.
It’s a slick operation with seamless gear changes and very little noise from the engine. Opt for sport mode and the performance becomes much livelier as the box hangs on to every gear until the rev counter needle hits the 4,000 mark.
If you want even more performance, there are paddles behind the steering wheel for manual gear shifting.
But while the new box takes you through the first eight gears relatively quickly, don’t expect to get into ninth gear until you are on the motorway.
It’s very much an overdrive gear, not coming into play until around the 70 milesper hour mark, when it ensures the revs are kept low to give good fuel consumption. In contrast, first gear is very low to make sure you are quick off the mark at junctions or roundabouts when you need to be.
The new gearbox has also been designed to be capable of “skipping” gears – such as ninth to fifth or seventh to fourth – for quick response.
Cars with the new auto box will hit 62 miles per hour from rest in 11 seconds on their way to a top speed of 124mph.
At the same time, Honda claims they will average 68.9 mpg.
Entry-level prices for the Civic with the new nine-speed auto box start from £21,895.