Car Reviews Motoring

New Honda Civic e:HEV

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The Honda Civic has been on the scene for so long that it’s now on its eleventh generation.

But now, the Civic has ushered in another change: the e:HEV.

The car now houses a 2.0-litre petrol unit with a couple of electric motors that churn out 184PS, making it a full hybrid (self-charging).

Regarding looks, the Honda Civic’s design has been watered down from its previous insanity. However, its personality remains intact.

There is a trio of grades available for the Civic e:HEV. Elegance, Sport, and Advance. I tested the middle version.

On the road, the Civic moves away well, with instant throttle response helping you to deal with 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds. The Honda’s maximum speed is 112mph.

That is no thunderous performance level, but the Civic accelerates keenly. And, when doing 50mph on a motorway, it expends no effort in getting up to 70mph.

One of the electric motors propels the front wheels, and the engine is often used more for powering the motors.

The new Civic will sometimes run on the electric motors alone, but the switchover is seamless and barely noticeable when the petrol engine is called into action.

The three main driving modes, Eco, Normal and Sport, correspond to how much hybridity you want to experience, with Eco minimising the engine’s input. In contrast, the Sport relies on the combustion unit more heavily.

An Individual mode also enables you to customise your preferences through the infotainment system.

The Japanese-made Civic is only available with an electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT), too, and Honda has done well to make it as refined as possible.

Regarding handling, the East Asian automaker has stiffened up the suspension and lowered the centre of gravity, which helps with stability in the bends.

While it has plenty of grip and is reasonably engaging to drive with decent steering, you find its limits quickly if you throw it into a corner. But the Civic is controlled and predictable.

Soundproofing is also improved compared with its predecessor, with the experience being more serene, obviously helped by the combustion engine only working part-time.

The cabin is smart, but not that luxurious. A honeycomb effect spans the dashboard’s width, hiding the air vents behind it, while the infotainment screen is positioned on top like a tablet.

Although the system is a step forward from Honda’s older infotainment offerings, it isn’t the most responsive screen, but the menus are a piece-of-cake to navigate.

The voice-activated personal assistant helps you find filling stations, cafes, and other amenities. It is a good feature, while Honda also offers a smartphone app that can do things like lock and unlock the Civic.

The latest Civic is longer than the outgoing version, adding extra legroom in the rear, while the cabin feels larger inside than the old models.

It is a similar story in the front, which is roomy enough for taller drivers, providing good visibility. Although the Civic’s rear visibility is compromised by the obstructive angle of the sloping roofline, all models get a rear-view camera to assist.

Boot space is 415 litres, which expands to 1,220 litres with the rear seats folded down.

In terms of running costs, the Civic manages up to 56.5mpg, producing 113g/km CO2. Those figures are respectable.

The Honda Civic e:HEV scored the full five stars after being crash-tested by leading safety body Euro NCAP.

All Civics include the Honda Sensing safety package, which features a rear-view camera, a 100-degree front camera, blind spot information, lane keeping assist, low-speed braking control and enhanced recognition technology.

The Honda Civic is a different car than before but arguably more desirable. Sure, it looks more conservative than the departing Civic, but the revised suspension makes it better to drive.

What’s more, the Honda is more practical than before thanks to a slightly longer body, more economical than ever, and cleverer. It is also more refined and more mature than its predecessor.

Undoubtedly, the latest Honda Civic now wears less powder and paint – but turning the loud visuals down a notch might be what it needed.

Fast Facts – Honda Civic e:HEV (Sport trim) as tested:

  • Max speed: 112 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 7.8 secs
  • Combined mpg: 56.5mpg (WLTP)
  • Engine layout: 1993cc four-cylinder petrol (hybrid with two electric motors)
  • Max. power (PS): 184
  • CO2: 113 g/km
  • Price: £31,220

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