The Honda Civic has been around since 1972 and is now in its 11th generation.
Launched last year, the all-new model is longer and roomier than the previous version. It’s also better looking inside and out, has more technology and improved economy.
Another change is the powertrain. This model switches to full hybrid technology, marrying a 2.0 litre petrol engine to an electric motor and battery.
It’s not a plug-in hybrid so don’t expect to travel 20 or 30 miles on battery power. Instead you’ll carry out low speed manoeuvres in silence and generally benefit from better economy.
The radical, love-or-hate-it looks of the old Civic are gone. In its place is a new and more conservative body shape. It’s longer and more low-slung than the previous model, though, and I’m a fan of its appearance.
Prices start at a little over the £28,000 mark. That’s a bit more than an entry level Golf or Focus, but the Civic is now a bigger car than either of those.
In fact, the latest Civic is 35mm longer than the previous model. Nowhere does that show more than in the back, where rear passengers benefit from generous legroom.
The 11th generation model is by far the best Civic yet
At 410 litres the hatchback boot is a good size as well.
A tough plastic floor makes it suitable for wet dogs or muddy boots, and there’s a clever roller-blind style boot cover that snaps away out of sight when not in use.
Easy-to-use in car tech
Another area where great changes have been made is the interior.
The busy and dated layout of the previous Civic is gone, replaced by an uncluttered modern set-up with a touchscreen and rotary dials for the heating. It looks good and it’s easy to use.
Touchscreens are difficult to use when driving and Honda is to be applauded for rejecting the industry trend to remove buttons and dials from cars.
So what’s it like to drive? My partner and I took the Civic from Dundee to Wales for a family wedding. Over the course of a long weekend we covered more than 900 miles in it.
Hybrid economy impressive
The 2.0 litre engine and electric motors put out around 180bhp, enabling the Civic to carry out the 0-62mph sprint in less than eight seconds. That’s fast for a family hatchback.
Perhaps more impressive still is the economy. The Civic’s hybrid power system gives it an official economy figure of 56.5mpg.
After a long afternoon sitting at 70mph on the motorway followed by a couple of hours on Welsh A and B roads our trip computer read 62.4mpg.
That’s extremely good, and we managed to get to Wales and back on just two tanks of petrol -costing £100 in total.
Nor did we emerge too stiff and sore after all those hours behind the wheel. The Civic rides firmly but smoothly.
The driver’s seat offers plenty of adjustment and it’s easy to find a comfortable position. Refinement is good as well, with wind and tyre noise fairly muted.
Reliability and convenience
Honda always comes near the top of reliability surveys so as long as you keep the Civic maintained it should run and run.
We’re in an era when most family car buyers go for an SUV without even thinking about it. Spending a week with the Civic reminded me of the advantages of hatchbacks. You get more for your money. They handle better. Parking is easier. And they’re a lot more economical.
It may have been around for 50 years but the Honda Civic shows no sign of slowing down. In fact the 11th generation model is by far the best Civic yet.
Model: Honda Civic Hybrid
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
CO2 emissions: 113g/km