What is it?
Now in its tenth generation, the Civic is one of the longest-running mass-market cars on sale today, with a rich history that spans over 40 years. Over the years, buyers have been able to have the Civic as a hatch, estate, saloon, coupe and as a sporty Type R, although until recently the current Civic was only offered as a five-door hatchback.
But that’s no longer the case, as Honda has now launched its popular Civic in a sleek four-door guise. We’ve been out to see what it’s like.
Ultimately, there’s not a huge amount of difference between the saloon and the hatchback – largely because the latter is offered with a sleek sloping tailgate anyway.
But stand the two variations side-by-side, and you instantly notice the extra length and rear overhang of the saloon, and the typically boxy body of the four-door shape.
The other difference is that the saloon, unlike the hatchback, is not built at Honda’s plant in Swindon – rather it’s manufactured in Turkey
What’s under the bonnet?
Just two engines are offered in the Civic Saloon – a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol producing 124bhp and the 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine fitted to our test car.
If efficiency and refinement are important, the diesel engine is the unit to go for. Performance is best described as adequate, with the six-speed manual transmission helping to deliver smooth performance best for cruising, but it never feels spirited – even if you have your toe to the floor. Honda claims a 0-60mph time of 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 125mph.
While the Civic Saloon might be particularly frugal, don’t get bogged down with the claimed figures. Honda says the Civic’s diesel engine is capable of 83.1mpg on the combined cycle, which would make it one of the most efficient combustion engines around, but on our mix of country driving and motorway slogs, we failed to see anything over 60mpg. That’s still good, but no better than a diesel Volkswagen Golf would be, for example. Low CO2 emissions of 91g/km are an added bonus, though.
What’s it like to drive?
For a diesel saloon, the Civic is surprisingly good to drive. You sit low in the cockpit, which helps you to feel more involved in the driving experience. The steering is also sharp and reasonably well-weighted and there is minimal body roll even when cornering hard.
But it’s cruising where the Civic really comes into its own. On a long journey, it’s a remarkably comfortable car with supportive seats and a particularly supple ride, which doesn’t get flummoxed by harsh surfaces and speed bumps. The adaptive cruise control is also one of the best systems in the business, and truly makes cross-country jaunts effortless.
The only real gripes with it are that there can be too much road noise at speed, while the high rear windscreen and low seating position result in compromised rear visibility, although it’s an improvement over the Civic Hatch’s split rear windscreen.
How does it look?
As with the hatchback, the saloon is an impressive-looking model, with sharp lines, C-shaped rear lights and chrome detailing at the front making the Civic stand out from the crowd.
The Saloon also has good proportions, perhaps better than the hatchback. The side reflectors on the front wings are an interesting touch, even if they might look a bit too U.S-orientated for our liking.
Our test car also looked the part in the shade of Brilliant Sporty Blue (yes, Honda actually calls it that) and with diamond-cut 17-inch alloys.
What’s it like inside?
When it comes to the interior, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The quality is hard to knock, with plenty of soft-touch plastics dotted throughout the cabin, and it looks sharp and modern throughout – particularly with its decluttered layout and seven-inch touchscreen.
But disappointingly the touchscreen is one of the biggest downfalls of the Civic. It’s a slow screen to respond to inputs and despite its host of features – including satellite navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – it’s difficult to use and has a tendency to freeze completely.
The 519-litre boot might be huge – and nearly 100 litres bigger than the hatch’s – but it’s impractical to load and unload bigger items out of, thanks to its shallow opening. And that sloping roofline also results in limited headroom in the rear seats, as adults six-feet and over will find their heads scraping against the roof, even if there’s plenty of legroom.
What’s the spec like?
For the price, the Civic Saloon comes with a fantastic amount of kit. Honda pitches the saloon as the more ‘premium’ model, so it’s only offered in top-spec SR and EX trim levels.
SR comes with a parking camera, 17-inch alloy wheels and climate control to name but a few features, while standard safety kit is very impressive, with all cars coming with adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist.
Jumping to the range-topping EX version brings front and rear heated leather seats, wireless charging and LED headlights.
The new four-door Civic confirms what was already known about the Civic – that it’s a stylish, well-equipped and very comfortable car.
The 1.6-litre diesel engine also suits the Saloon to a tee, and helps to offer a relaxed and refined driving experience, with excellent efficiency and low running costs.
But the problem with the new body style is that it offers nothing the hatchback doesn’t, and you pay more for the privilege. For those who prefer the look and shape of a saloon, it’s worth spending the extra money, but we would stay put with the already-fantastic five-door.