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First Drive: 2023 Honda Civic e:HEV. Image by Honda.

First Drive: 2023 Honda Civic e:HEV
We try Honda's new family hatchback, now with hybrid power.

   



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2022 Honda Civic e:HEV

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Remember the Honda Civic? No, you probably don't - at least not lately as its sales have rather fallen off their perch. Well, Honda wants to remind you that in the Civic's 50th year, it's still a thing. And now it's all new, and it's available purely with hybrid power...

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Honda Civic e:HEV Sport
Pricing: £29,595
Engine: 2.0-litre Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder petrol + 135kW electric motor
Transmission: eCVT automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door family hatchback
CO2 emissions: 108g/km
Combined economy: 60.1mpg
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 7.8 seconds
Power: 183hp (system total)
Torque: 315Nm (system total)
Boot space: 410-1,220 litres

Styling

Liked the look of the old Civic? Well you'll like the look of the new one, as long as you're used to looking at things through a gauze filter. The new Civic's overall silhouette is the same, but it's smoother, cleaner, and dare we say it a little more grown up than the last version. It's handsome and simple, but possibly just a little bit dull. Then again, most families aren't looking for outré styling, so maybe that's a good thing.

Interior

The Civic's insides are much, much nicer than its outsides. The new cabin picks up the styling and layout of the new HR-V crossover's cabin, but to us it feels like it's made of better stuff, with higher quality levels. It's a very comfortable car, with over-stuffed front seats and a sense of calmness and rationality about everything. Yes, it has digital instruments and a nine-inch touschscreen, but the instrument graphics are simple and calming to look at, and the screen gets physical controls as well as on-screen menus, so it's easy to use. Love the full-width air vent panel, with its gorgeous Saab-style adjusters, too.

Practicality

Practicality has long been a Civic strong point and that's not changing. Under that fastback rear end, there's a decent 410-litre boot, although there is an annoying lip in the boot floor to allow for the packaging of the hybrid system's battery. We love the sideways-retracting luggage blind, though, which makes it much easier to fold the back seats and expand luggage space to 1,220-litres. In the back seats, there's ample legroom thanks to a 35mm stretch in the wheelbase, and if headroom isn't as good as it would be in a comparable SUV, then it's still fine. Up front, there are decent door bins, and plenty of storage space in the centre console and under the armrest.

Performance

Honda’s new 2.0-litre hybrid engine is an impressive thing, especially in terms of refinement. Like all hybrids, it can drone a bit when you want to dial up some extra speed, but it’s no worse than a rival Toyota in that respect, and it’s more muffled than a Corolla’s engine. The CVT gearbox (which actually doesn’t have gears, but relies on a pair of electric motors) has also been improved relative to that in the HR-V, and it now includes pretend gearchanges, which makes acceleration feel and sound more natural.

Performance from the combined 183hp and 315Nm of torque is fine, not thrilling, but there’s better news on the economy front. In three hours of mixed driving, up mountains, downtown, and along motorways, we beat Honda’s economy claim — Honda says 60mpg, we got 62mpg, and that was mostly done in Sport mode with the aircon blasting on a hot day. With fuel prices the way they are, that’s almost a winning hand all by itself.

Ride & Handling

Did you come here expecting excitement? Sorry to disappoint you… The Civic’s chassis is actually pretty well set up, and it’s certainly comfortable. The springs are fairly soft, and it only gets a dose of the fidgets on the worst surfaces. Mix that in with the refinement and economy and you have an excellent long-haul cruiser.

Sadly, though, the in-corner sparkle of the old Civic has gone. The steering is still pretty good — decent weight, some feel and feedback — but those soft springs rob the Civic of agility and any sense of fun. Ah well, sit back an enjoy the fuel savings…

Value

The new Civic will have prices starting from £25,595 when it goes on sale in October. That makes it more expensive than the basic 1.8-litre Toyota Corolla Hybrid (the Civic's closest rival) but pretty much in-line with the 2.0-litre version of the Corolla. Standard kit includes the touchscreen, heated front seats, and 17-inch dark-finished alloy wheels, plus an uprated safety kit that includes improved radar cruise control.

Verdict

While it's a bit of a shame that some of the fun of the old Civic's chassis has been sucked out of this new one, it's impossible not to be impressed by the high-quality cabin and the frugal hybrid engine. It's a bit sensible-shoes, but the Civic is hard to argue against. Plus, if you want fun, there's a Type R coming...



Neil Briscoe - 28 Jun 2022



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2023 Honda Civic e:HEV. Image by Honda.2023 Honda Civic e:HEV. Image by Honda.2023 Honda Civic e:HEV. Image by Honda.2023 Honda Civic e:HEV. Image by Honda.2023 Honda Civic e:HEV. Image by Honda.








 

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