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Honda Civic review - does the Type R’s class translate lower down the range?

It’s clear the Type R has had a positive effect on the standard Civic’s handling, but a mini Type R this is not

Fresh from the Civic Type R stealing all the limelight as one of the best hot hatchbacks in recent memory, the lesser Civic models still operate as the mainstay of Honda’s range in the UK. Despite being aimed at a far more conservative market, the standard Civic shares much of its challenging looks with the Type R, but does it also share its excellent chassis?

Redesigned from the ground up in 2016, the initial line-up was made up of petrol hatchback variants, but has now been expanded with a revised version of Honda’s frugal 1.6-litre diesel, paired with either a six-speed manual or new nine-speed auto, and saloon body style to supplement the range.

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The current Civic marks the tenth generation of the nameplate and Honda has focused on improving the core engineering, with added sophistication under the skin and bigger dimensions. We’ve already been impressed by the petrol models, offering a sophisticated and polished handling balance to the spacious new model, but does the diesel and saloon add anything to the package?

Honda Civic: in detail

Performance and 0-60 time - Entry-level three-cylinder models are potent enough, 1.5-litre models verge on warm hatch territory

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Engine and gearbox - Honda’s new generation of engines are a world away from revvy VTEC units of the past. Now they are all turbocharged, paired to a variety of transmissions

Ride and handling - Completely redesigned from the ground up in this latest generation, the Civic is lower, wider and better to drive than ever, even in standard trims

MPG and running costs - MPG is impressive considering the added size of the new Civic. Diesels are exceptionally frugal.

Interior and tech - Spacious, well equipped, but not perfect. The Civic’s interior feels a little bit cheap, but the basics, like the driving position, are spot on.

Design - Trying to keep as subjective as possible, you might call the latest Civic’s design ‘complex’.

Price and rivals

The new Civic kicks off in SE trim with the manual-equipped 1-litre model at £18,895, and rises to £28,590 for the 1.5-litre Prestige CVT. Kit levels are comprehensive at the top end of the range – Prestige trim gets leather seats, in addition to standard kit from lower levels like auto headlights, adaptive cruise control, Honda Connect infotainment and more.

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But the hotly contested family hatch market majors on value just as much as anything else, and despite the Civic’s strong list of standard features and roomy interior, it is one of the more expensive options in the class. When specced to an equivalent level, the Civic generally sits £1k to £1.5k more than rivals other than the VW Golf, which is pricier still.

Other mainstream rivals like the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Hyundai i30 are more affordable, but only the Focus drives better, and all three make concessions regarding space and build quality. Go higher up the range and the extra cost to reach the Civic’s higher specification models becomes harder to justify, especially when the Golf and Focus feel more premium at the higher end.

And there is another caveat, as from the middle of the range, premium rivals like the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series match the Civic on price and specification, not to mention their impressive residuals and those premium badges.

Keep speccing up and you’ll end up at a £30k Prestige model when combined with the CVT gearbox and metallic paint. Equipment is vast, but you’ll then be looking at the same sort of money as would get an even higher-specification model from the class up, such as the excellent Mazda 6. Best keep the spec conservative where the value equation is strongest lower down the range.

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