The first Honda Civic was launched 50 years ago, back in 1972. I too have had a long relationship with the Civic as I was selling Hondas at a local garage in Huddersfield from 1976. Despite the locals reactions to selling Japanese cars in the village, they gradually accepted them, well, most did, and we sold loads.
The latest version of the Civic is the 11th generation, and when you take a look all the previous models, they are all very different. Not like most other similar sized hatchbacks that have evolved with styling, every Civic had radical changes in its design. But the one thing they had in common was the build quality and reliability.
For quite a while Hondas were well out of favour with younger buyers, and drivers tended to be in the older age bracket – not good for Hondas image.
The all-new Civic e:HEV is all-new from the ground up. The exterior design is coupé-like with its sloping roofline, but the lower roof at the rear doesn’t affect rear head room for passengers. It has uncluttered simple lines that makes it a good looking five-door hatch, with an overall cleaner look.
Major changes have been made under the bonnet since a new full hybrid system has been fitted, similar to other powertrains offered by competing manufacturers. It is powered by a newly developed 2.0-litre petrol engine coupled to dual electric motors and produces a total of 184ps, and goes from 0-100kph in 8-seconds. The gearbox is a CVT automatic, and no manual gearbox will be available. The hybrid system, like others, is self charging. This means no plugging in, as the batteries are charged when slowing down, going downhills, braking and so on. This stored energy is then used when setting off at traffic lights, roundabouts, and to give the petrol engine a boost on acceleration. All of these measures help save petrol, and make it greener and more economical.
During the time I drove the e:HEV, the car achieved 3.564 L/100km, which I thought was a good result from a two-litre petrol car. It feels safe and solid on all road surfaces, with handling fairly good, and much sharper than the previous model.
The new Civic will be built in Japan and exported to Europe following the shutdown of the Swindon plant in the UK.
All Honda Civic models will include Honda’s SENSING driver safety systems. These include a 100-degree front wide-view camera, lane-keeping assist, blind spot information and low speed braking control.
The model line-up comprises three versions: Elegance, Sport and Advance. All models have a decent long list of standard equipment.
Out on the roads, the Civic is very capable. It felt quick, very comfortable, and all the switches and buttons are in the right place and easy to use. The hybrid system works effortlessly – you don’t have to do anything – it does everything all by itself, and the economy was outstanding.
Overall a great package from Honda, and if like most people you’re not ready yet for an electric car, then the e:HEV is as close to clean as you’ll get.