Honda Civic eHev


By Tim Saunders

Strong build quality has always been associated with Honda and the same is certainly true of the new Civic, which I really do enjoy driving. Low to the ground the two-litre injection eHev sports hatchback is nicely responsive. Although nought to sixty is achieved in a shade under eight seconds it feels so much faster thanks to being so close to the road, and while it will only reach 111mph top speed, it feels as if it could go on and on. 

This model is a hybrid so at speeds of 31mph or lower electric vehicle mode automatically kicks in and it crawls down the road noiselessly. No matter how demanding the driver of this car is, it seems to return at least 48mpg.

The test model is finished in white and the black wheels are a pleasing contrast. This new Civic differs from its predecessor by having rounded off edges - an improvement and particularly effective on the boot, I feel. That boot would certainly take a lot of luggage, too.

My parents had a new Civic back in 1978 when I was born and it’s interesting to see how the design has evolved. Back then it was a small attractively designed hatchback. Today, like everything else in this world it has grown and is now probably almost twice as large, the engine still taking up a similar chunk of space to the original in terms of design ratio. Inside there’s a good amount of space for all occupants and it’s comfortable.

We all appreciate the way the honeycomb design from the grille is incorporated on the dashboard for the air vents. There are appealing joystick type levers to operate these air vents as well. I like the windscreen wipers and the way the water jets are attached to the wipers rather than being fixed on the bonnet as is often the case. The leather steering wheel is luxurious and the radio picks up those '80s tunes we all like so much. My only concern is the external door handles. They look too complicated and when you pull one to open a door you can see the greased mechanism, which isn’t great. I also question how safe this design is for children or indeed tired adults’ fingers.

I take the Civic on trips to Salisbury and Basingstoke and it never fails to please. There’s been severe flooding from the previous night’s downpour and as I approach a roundabout it's necessary to go into the fast lane to manoeuvre around a deep puddle. Wet roads do mean that this front wheel drive Honda suffers from wheel spin if the driver is too heavy on that accelerator, which can be unsettling when entering a busy main road.

On a dry, straight, traffic free road, the Honda really comes into its own and the driver cannot help but smile as the engine works effortlessly away delivering a slight roar as it travels smoothly through the gears. Like so many cars these days it is automatic but there are paddle shifts. My preference would be a five or six speed manual, which would deliver an excellent driving experience I am sure.

So much about life at the moment reminds me of traipsing through treacle and driving on Britain’s roads is no less challenging, especially when the weather’s bad. We’re due at the theatre for a matinee performance and I just can’t get my unhelpful family out of the door much before one, which I know is cutting it really fine. Slow traffic hampers us and a couple of junctions being shut on the M3 don’t help either. We arrive at just after quarter to two and then have to run like billy-o, arriving with only a couple of minutes to spare. That’s a surprise I can tell you. 

Facts at a glance
OTR price £34,465
Top speed 111mph
0 to 60mph 7.9secs
Economy 48mpg


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