New Civic now booted and suited

Cynon Valley - - MOTORS WALES - ED­WARD STEPHENS news­desk@waleson­

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.

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