HONDA CIVIC e:HEV: it’s a straightforward choice….

IT’S hard to believe the Honda Civic is 50 years old. Not this one,obviously, but in that time it’s morphed from a small city runaround into a bigger, family orientated favourite.

I’ve driven a wide variety of them in my motoring life, from the more humble ones to the highly popular Type R versions, and this one is the 11th iteration of the Japanese firm’s world wide seller.

And, got to say it, it’s a real improvement over a previous car that wasn’t too shabby itself.

It has the torque of a diesel, power of a petrol, which makes it engaging to drive, and being hybrid only makes it frugal enough to salve the conscience in these times when living costs are spiralling.

Honda is probably the most respected brand in the world when it comes to reliability. So much so, the old VTEC petrol engine reputedly had the incredible record of never once having had to be replaced under warranty in any Honda, worldwide.

So there’s nothing to suggest the new Civic will be any different, even though it includes new technology, as the basics are all well proven. And let’s face it, if they can help make Red Bull’s Championship winning RB18 unbreakable and unbeatable this season (and I hope I don’t regret writing that) then caps need to be doffed in their direction.

The 2.0-litre e:HEV system, from the CR-V, has been tweaked to make it more powerful, but also quieter and more efficient. Most of the time the engine acts as a generator to power the battery rather than the wheels which makes it feel more electric for more of the time.

So, driven with your sensible hat on, you’ll be in EV mode more that you might expect. Add a bit of right boot and there’s a respectable sound to keep you interested.

The suspension is soft, and incredibly good at soaking up lumpy roads, and the well-weighted steering does make it more enthusiastic through corners than you might expect. Little roll and reassuringly precise.

The styling for the latest version is distinctive, if maybe a bit on the sober side but the low, coupe-like shape hides what‘s within and certainly gives it kerb appeal.

It’s low to get into, never mind getting out, but once behind the wheel you’re treated to the same roomy cabin as its predecessor.

The seats offer plenty comfort and in the back, there’s plenty of legroom, though the lower roofline cuts down a bit on the rear headroom.

The dashboard is much smarter than the previous version, with a new pair of digital screens. Ahead of the driver, there’s a 10.2-inch display that looks smart and has clear, simple instruments. The central nine-inch touchscreen is easy to use and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections making things easier still.

And in a touchscreen age, there are still physical buttons and switches in the Civic, so tasks like setting the air con is easy to achieve, and there’s a proper knob for controlling the radio volume.

The air vents have been designed to look like a single, full-width panel and have intriguing control stalks for altering where the airflow goes.

The gear selector is a simple push-button arrangement, which frees up more space for storage in the centre console.

In common with the interior, the boot is a decent size and there’s is a neat luggage blind which retracts to one side, so you don’t have to grapple with a big, unwieldy parcel shelf when the seats are down and you’re loading your golf clubs. Or shopping, depending on who’s using the car.


Honda Civic e:HEV Advance

Price: £32,995 (£33,820 as tested)
Engine: 2.0 litre, petrol-electric hybrid
Power: 141bhp
Torque: 232lb/ft
Transmission: e-CVT
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Economy: 56.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 114g/km

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