Features: 90 / 100
Look/Design: 70 / 100
Performance: 70 / 100
Safety: 90 / 100
The previous generation Civic was a bold statement by Honda that they would not conform to the standards set by the Volkswagen Golf in its segment. The design was a huge departure from the previous generation and stood different to anything else in its class. Whereas the previous generation was essentially a clean slate for the Civic, this new generation builds on the foundations set by its predecessor.
As you’d expect, the Civic exudes quality and just looking at it, you know this is a car to be reckoned with. The exterior is much sharper and edges more defined than the outgoing model. The face of the Civic is more generic than the outgoing model and is immediately recognisable as a Honda. The tail-lights stand out more and is the weakest part of the exterior styling. The shape of the rear window, together with the tail-lights inhibits the rear-view the driver has through the rear window. The profile of the Civic is also very unique and somewhat coupe-like.
A nice touch is the LED day-time running lights above the fog lights. The Diesel variant has a panoramic glass roof and it definitely makes the cabin more roomy and open. Overall though, the Civic is a very well put together car that exudes quality.
The interior is solemn, yet a stylish and functional affair. Unfortunately it is somewhat spoiled by portions of cheap plastic, that seems very out-of-place with the rest of the interior. This splotchy interior treatment means that there are a few competitors with classier dashboards, including the Golf, Focus and the i30. The leather seats are extremely comfortable and the seat-heaters do an amazing job in early winter mornings. The Civic cabin is a very comfortable place to be and with all the available settings between the seats and steering wheel, it’s almost impossible to not get comfortable. The rear seats also have ample space, with enough leg room even for taller male occupants.
The dual climate control works well and the multi-function steering wheel is intuitive. I have to admit, I am definitely a fan of the speedometer/information display layout. It’s unique, well thought out and looks good.
As you’d also expect, the Civic is packed with a plethora of technologies that help aid both the safety and comfort of the occupants. The comfort features include a very good 6-speaker system, dual climate control, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control and USB socket.
Practically, the Civic does mostly what it says on paper. Fuel consumption, although not what is claimed by Honda, was still very good for a 1.8l engine. The i-VTEC engine pulls well and loves higher revs. Honda may have perfected building bullet proof engines, and the Civic’s 1.8 is a testament to that. The low torque is the only negative that can be pointed toward the engine and performance in general. In city driving it’s not very noticeable, but on open roads, you have to work the gear-lever more than you’d expect to for an engine of this size. The gearing felt well-spaced though as is said before, the Civic doesn’t mind when you have to gear down. In fact, I think it likes it.
The Civic is very sure-footed, definitely helped by the 17” rims on the model I sampled. The suspension does a good job of absorbing bumps, yet is firm enough for confidently hustling up a mountain pass or two.
The Eco-Assist mode is an interesting function and a well-executed one by Honda. When the car is in Eco-Assist mode, throttle response is lessened by a good margin. Acceleration is smoother and it’s easier to keep momentum going – all things that help reduce fuel consumption.
Within the Civic, you can be assured of your safety. The Civic scores 5 stars in the Euro NCap ratings and includes technologies like ABS with ABD and EBA. It has 6 airbags and also active headrests. It also has VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) and DWS (Tyre Deflation Warning System). It also features Hill Start Assist on the Manual models.
One concern for me is pricing. As far as pricing for this segment goes, it’s not outrageous, but this segment’s pricing is. The base 1.8 model starts at R257 500 and then there’s a whopping R100 000 jump to the Diesel variant. This puts the Diesel almost R100 000 more than the Focus TDCi and R20 000 more than the Golf’s top specced DSG model. This also means that the Type-R will most likely be priced upward of R400 000.
Pricing aside, the Civic is an extremely complete car with everything that you could need in a hatchback. It has a decent warranty and service plan and is well-specced. It is also safe and frugal with decent performance to boot. The only problem is that this comes at a price. If you can look past the price-tag, then the Civic can be a very compelling proposition.