The new Honda Civic Diesel Hatchback is a sharp-looking thing that’s ready to rock ’n’ roll if you are. It’s a massive departure from its last incarnation and should win lots of new fans who want a car that’s sexy and knows it.
Is it still aimed at families? It is, but it’s positioned itself as the rebellious, anti-mainstream choice. In other words, if you’re bored of the Ford Focus and its plain image, you’ll want to have a gander at this one.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Honda Civic Diesel Hatchback review.
On the road, the Civic isn’t as offensive as we’ve probably just lead you to believe. It’s actually an enjoyable car to drive that’s responsive and grippy.
We wish there was more communication from the steering, but Honda’s switch to electric power steering means that a lack of feel is something Civic buyers will have to get used to.
Adaptive damping is standard on the EX model but optional on the rest of the range, and it’s well worth adding. It lets you firm the suspension setup up so that body roll isn’t too much of a pain.
The manual transmission is a real highlight here – it’s a joy to use. On the other hand, the automatic CVT gearbox isn’t. It saves fuel by preventing the engine from revving needlessly, but it has a mind of its own when you accelerate hard. The revs climb and the car slows down. As a result, we recommend that you stick to the standard manual ‘box.
Other than that, the only complaint some buyers will have is that the Civic gets a bit loud at times. Wind and road noise is an issue on the motorway.
In terms of its engines, there’s only going to be one diesel available – and it hasn’t yet arrived. This is a 1.6-litre unit. It was available last time too, but it’s been revised heavily for 2018. It’s punchy, easy enough to drive, but doesn’t have as many manners as the quieter petrols. In other words, it can get noisy, especially if you specify stop-start. It’s got plenty of torque, though, and this lets it pull from lower revs with no hassle.
The Civic’s cabin is flush with lots of high-quality materials and it looks good overall.
One of the things buyers will be keen to find out about is whether or not the Civic’s cabin is easier to use than it was last time. It is, but in making it easier to use, Honda has also made it a bit plainer and less exciting. It’s a compromise.
For the most part, fit and finish, build quality and the quality of the materials used is good, but there are areas that seem less confidently screwed together.
Comfort is good, and the dashboard is smartly designed. It’s not quite as plush as, say, a Volkswagen Golf, but there are plenty of soft-touch materials here and there.
What might disappoint buyers the most, however, is that a 7” Connect infotainment system isn’t standard on all models – and also isn’t easy to use.
Is the Honda Civic Diesel Hatchback practical? Honda has ditched the excellent Magic seats that helped to distinguish the Civic from its rivals, but the brand said that few people actually used them. That seems fair enough and getting rid of them means the fuel tank is placed lower down, which has boosted handling.
Other than that, this is still a really useful car. Rear headroom is going to be a bit tight for taller adults, but legroom is good all round and interior storage includes a big central cubby.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 420-litres. Opt for the EX model and you get an extra 58-litres, while folding the rear seats increases it to 1,580-litres. A neat, sliding parcel shelf extends and retracts into a plastic box to the side of the boot, and it boosts practicality further.
The SE trim sits at the bottom of the range. It comes with an 8-speaker stereo, 16” alloys and air conditioning as standard. It offers lots of value for money but most buyers will be interested in the SR model that adds 17” alloys, a 7” Connect infotainment system, twin-zone air conditioning and a reversing camera.
The EX model rounds things off with a better stereo, LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and leather seats.
In terms of how safe the car is, it’s a shame that the Civic was only awarded 4/5 for its Euro NCAP crash test performance last year. A score of just 67% for child occupant protection is especially alarming.
However, it’s been re-tested and came away with all five stars.
Prices for the new car start from £18,890 and rise to £27,965. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel is super affordable to keep on the road. It can return as much as 81mpg economy on a good day and emits just 93g/km of CO2. This gives it a BiK rating of just 20%. That said, it’s expensive to buy in the first place.
Fun to Drive
The only criticism we have is a lack of communication from the steering wheel.
There’s a real edge to this new Civic, helped not least by a menacing look.
Better Than Last Time
Scratch that – it’s a LOT better than last time. In every area.
Expensive to Insure
Insurance-wise, prices have shot up. This cars predecessor had an entry-level model that sat in insurance group 5, but in 2018 models range from group 15 to 22.
It’s not as exciting as you’d expect.
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Honda Civic Diesel Hatchback review.
The Skoda Octavia offers an impressive amount of interior space and still has room for a massive boot.
It’s frankly ridiculous how big this car manages to be. Despite its size, though, it’s still good to drive. It’s not a lot of fun but it weighs less than last time, and this has contributed to a livelier driving experience.
The steering is well-weighted but it needed to be more responsive. Moreover, it doesn’t offer as much communication as we’d like. There’s plenty of grip, though, and body lean is well resisted.
In terms of its engines, the smoothest diesel is the 1.6-litre TDI unit. Its smoothness is an asset because the Octavia’s diesels tend to make a lot of hullabaloo on start-up. It does 0-62 in 10.6 seconds.
A bigger 2.0-litre TDI is noisier but it’s also more powerful. It develops 148bhp and has a 0-62 time of 8.5 seconds.
Running costs? The 1.6-litre diesel is the cheapest to run with returns of 72.4mpg. It has a BiK rating of 21%, which is low and will appeal to buyers. That said, you need to stick to the smaller 16” alloys to get that rating.
The 2.0-litre diesel is hardly what you’d call expensive to run either, and can return as much as 70.6mpg on a good day.
Inside, the cabin is comfortable, really well built, and even feels rather classy at times.
Of course, VW has made sure it’s not as classy as their Golf, but insulation isn’t too bad, the suspension isn’t too stiff, and the design isn’t too low-key. However, there’s a real lack of design flair in here, although an 8” infotainment system is a nice concession on Volkswagen’s part.
Is the Skoda Octavia practical? This is where it truly excels over the smaller Civic. The boot measures an outstanding 590-litres and can extend to 1,580 when you fold the rear seats. There are all kinds of clever practical touches in the cabin, including folding tray tables, a removable boot-mounted LED torch and map pockets.
Two adults can sit in comfort in the rear, while the big doors make access a cinch.
Honda – £18,890 – £27,965
Skoda – £17,695 – £29,495
The new Volkswagen Golf is a real threat to the Civic. It boasts an upmarket interior, affordable running costs and it’s great to drive.
On the road, the Golf offers a really pleasant driving experience. The steering is precise, there’s lots of grip on offer, and the car is comfortable and quiet.
And although it’s probably not what you’d call fun to drive, body lean is well controlled and there’s nothing to criticise. It’s as smooth as a car like this could be.
In terms of its engines, the 2.0-litre 148bhp diesel is the one to go for if pace and power are important to you. It covers the 0-62 sprint in just 8.6 seconds. However, the Golf is better suited to an engine that complements its cruising abilities. That engine is the 1.6-litre TDI diesel that develops 113bhp. It has a 0-62 time of 10.2 seconds and you can choose between a manual gearbox or a 6 or 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic.
Running costs? The Golf is cheapest when paired up with the manual ‘box. The 1.6-litre TDI engine is the most frugal and can return 72.4mpg at best. It comes with stop-start as standard and emits just 102g/km of CO2, which gives it a BiK rating of 22%.
Inside, the Golf once again impresses us with the conception and execution of its design. This is a genuinely upmarket product that’s classier than the Civic. The driver’s seat offers a lot of support for longer trips and it’s amazing how quiet the cabin is on the move.
A wraparound dash is a nice touch and the quality of the materials used is unrivalled in this class.
Is the Volkswagen Golf practical? It offers more room than last time, and three adults can fit into the rear. That said, the middle seated passenger won’t be comfortable on longer trips, thanks to a big transmission tunnel.
There are enough storage spaces in here, including a huge cooled glovebox, and the boot measures 380-litres. Fold the rear seats and that increases to 1,270-litres.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that specifying the three-door model shrinks the boot considerably.
Volkswagen – £18,230 – £27,760
The previous Civic was a good car – but this new model is better in every single area. A brand new platform is complemented by a brand new image, and a brand new diesel engine that’s fun, punchy and incredibly efficient.
It’s a shame, then, that build quality is ultimately what lets the car down. Compared to European rivals, its cabin just isn’t up to scratch. That aside, the new Honda Civic Diesel Hatchback is perfect for buyers who want to stand out from the otherwise sedate hatchback crowd.