It doesn’t feel like long at all since Honda debuted its latest Swindon-built Civic hatchback back in 2017.
However, a lot can happen in the car world in that time, and since the Civic’s debut just three years ago, there has been a new Ford Focus, a new Kia Ceed and a new Volkswagen Golf has recently come along as well.
While the Civic can still hold its ground – and remains a popular model that’s now in its tenth generation – Honda has seen fit to update its Swindon-built hatchback for 2020. It’s a light update, with Honda introducing slight styling tweaks along with a new EX Sport Line trim, which gives a sportier look. Revisions have also been made to the touchscreen system in response to customer feedback. So, should the Civic still be on your hatchback shortlist? Here we take a look…
The engine line-up available with the Civic remains exactly the same as before, with a pair of petrol engines available alongside a diesel unit.
Our test car uses the entry-level engine – a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol, which produces 124bhp and 200Nm of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT automatic is available, though we’d avoid the latter unless you need one.
On paper, it’s not the quickest, with 0-60mph taking 11 seconds, along with a top speed of 126mph. It’s quite an efficient option, though – returning a claimed 45.6mpg, with CO2 emissions of 110g/km.
Despite its modest power output, it feels far more potent than it is, with a strong torque delivery throughout the rev range and just enough power for most conditions.
The other engines are a punchy 179bhp 1.5-litre engine, as well as a 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel option, though neither are available on this EX Sport Line trim level.
Ride and handling
Since the latest Civic launched in 2017, this model has been one of the best cars to drive in its class – being about on par with the Focus, and ahead of the Golf.
With no mechanical changes made on this update then, it’s much the same story. The steering is involving and the ride is genuinely comfortable, though the firmer setup on this trim level means you could be better with another grade if you want maximum comfort.
The only real gripe, though, is with rear visibility. It’s not been a strong point of the Civic for quite a few generations, and the rear wing that this EX Sport Line brings certainly doesn’t help matters. It’s well worth going for a model with a reversing camera for this reason.
Interior and equipment
On the inside of the Civic the changes are limited but welcome. Honda has listened to feedback from customers and introduced more physical buttons into the cabin – including for the volume and touchscreen, which were two things you had to use the touchscreen for before. It’s quite refreshing to see a firm making a step like this, though as the touchscreen itself remains the same, it remains a bit disappointing as it can be slow and unresponsive, and lags behind rival offerings.
The 478-litre boot is one of the largest in this class, and is a full 100 litres bigger than the Ford Focus, though rear space isn’t quite so class-leading. Elsewhere, EX Sport Line models come with new textured dashboard panels and revised seats to give it a sportier feel.
Standard equipment on ‘S’ models is slightly lacking apart from on the safety front, which includes a whole suite of kit – with adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking all brought as part of the overall specification. SE includes alloy wheels and climate control, while SR cars feature a seven-inch touchscreen, a reversing camera and electric folding mirrors.
EX adds leather upholstery, wireless charging, a panoramic sunroof and keyless entry and start, while EX Sport Line tested here features a spoiler, black 17-inch alloy wheels, red interior accents and a rear diffuser.
Prices for the Civic start from an affordable £19,730, the SE grade can be had for under £20,000, too.
This EX Sport Line trim isn’t the most affordable grade, though, and costs £25,575 if you want it with a manual or £27,300 if you want an automatic transmission. It’s a lot of money for a 1.0-litre petrol hatchback, though if you want the most kit possible in a car of this size and aren’t too fussed about performance, it’s an appealing choice.
The changes on this updated Civic might be small, but they certainly keep this model in contention in this popular market. The driving experience is one of the best in this segment, while the huge boot and lengthy standard safety kit levels add to the appeal.
Rear visibility isn’t this car’s strong point, and this high-spec grade doesn’t feel like it offers the best value for money. However, these are just small gripes and overall the Civic continues to be a model very close to the front of the pack.Enquire on a new Honda Civic