Let’s see how they stack up against one another
Both Volkswagen’s Golf and the Honda Civic are big-hitters in the hatchback segment. Both are consistently popular with buyers, with years of progress working to make these cars more accomplished than ever before.
The Golf has now entered its eighth generation, bringing more technology than ever before. There’s also a brand new Civic with us too, which is larger than before but has been designed to offer a new level of comfort compared with its predecessor.
The latest Golf incarnation is definitely recognisable as Volkswagen’s famous hatchback. It does have a bold new ‘face’, mind you, with slim headlights that feed into slick-looking daytime running lights. Around the back of the car there are equally sharp rear lights, while the large Volkswagen badging ensures that there’s no mistaking who makes this car.
The look of the new Civic is definitely related to the appearance of its predecessor, but things are a little more grown-up than before. The bonnet has been lowered and this, combined with the sleek headlights, makes the front end of the car look a lot more aggressive than beforehand.
The previous generation of Civic was just starting to show its age in the cabin. It wasn’t bad overall, mind you, but it just felt a little behind the times compared with rivals. The new one, however, has firmly addressed this with a well-made and attractive new interior. The material quality is good, while a full-width trim section in the forward part of the cabin has a really cool design.
All generations of Volkswagen Golf have offered a practical yet sturdy cabin. This new eight-generation car definitely focuses on practicality, with plenty of storage areas and a variety of cubbies on offer. In some areas the quality is a little lacklustre, however the new buttonless design of the interior does give it a distinctly futuristic appeal.
It’s expected that a hatchback will deliver a decent amount of space and that’s certainly the case with the new Golf. Though its 380-litre boot may not be class-leading, it’s square and very easy to access thanks to a relatively low load lip. Plus, you can fold the rear seats down to extend the storage area even further. If you’re after a little more space, then the estate version of the Golf would be a good move.
The new Civic does trump the Golf in the boot space department with an impressive 410 litres of luggage space. Again, you’re able to lower the rear seats should you want to increase this load area’s space. It is, however, a smaller amount of boot space than you’d get in the previous Civic.
Volkswagen has really thrown the works at this latest Golf in terms of technology. As we touched upon previously, the cabin adopts a largely button-free design, with the bulk of the controls - including those for heating and ventilation - centred within the infotainment system itself. All cars get a 10-inch display, and you do get plenty of smartphone connectivity options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to make the most of too.
The previous Civic’s infotainment was a particular weak spot, which is probably why Honda has completely overhauled the one in the new car. There’s a new nine-inch display which is combined with a 10.2-inch driver display on higher-spec cars. Both are clear and easy to read, while the main infotainment has really good responsiveness.
The new Honda Civic arrives with a very efficient hybrid engine. Released under Honda’s new e:HEV branding, it combines a 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with two electric motors and a battery. The two electric motors provide primary drive to the wheels, too, which means that the petrol-powered Civic can deliver a more EV-like driving experience than you might think.
Powertrain variety is one of the Golf’s key strengths, with a number of efficient yet powerful options on offer. As well as traditional turbocharged petrol and diesel choices, you’ve got a plug-in hybrid available in the peppy GTE model, while GTD and GTI models give a performance option for diesel and petrol respectively. At the top of the performance ladder sits the range-topping R, with its powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and all-wheel-drive system making it into a particularly accomplished option.