The hatchback class is one of the most popular genres in the motor industry and arguably the dullest. The line-up of ageing and uninspiring models in this segment is epitomised by the fact that Ford and VW have stood alone at the top for so many years; making it hard to look further than the Focus and the Golf. But the buying market is changing with the likes of unique and funky-looking crossovers now bullishly grabbing sales as buyers start to scream for something different. That gives manufacturers like Honda the chance to diversify and try to steal away some sales, but is the Civic that car? Let's see:
Styling and image
Honda has often been unfairly pigeon-holed as a maker of cars for those closer to the retirement home than university, but you wouldn't think so when looking at the Honda Civic. Despite following the lead of VW and Ford by going for evolution rather than revolutionary looks, the Civic still stands out from almost anything else on the road today. The visor-like frontage is like something out of Star Trek and the hunched and sharp rear end ensures that the Civic catches the eye and offers a refreshing stand alone look in the market; if not an all-together pretty one.
Interior and practicality
As with all the Japanese car makers there is no arguing about the build quality of a Honda Civic. Instead, the only gripe is the level of refinement abounding when compared to the class-leading Golf and Focus as well as premium options from Audi, Mercedes and BMW. Over the years, the touch and feel has improved, but so has the competition. However, the Civics' interior is neatly driver-focused and easy to live with. Smart seating flexibility ensures that the cabin is spacious when you need to trade passengers for cargo, even if the standard leg room for passengers may not up to scratch in the class, it is still adequate.
Ride and handling
Motorists demand that hatchbacks drive exceptionally well offering comfort and dynamism in equal measure. This is something that the Civic has struggled to balance; with many incarnations delivering driving verve through connected and sharp handling, but lacking ride refinement. Later versions have held back on the fun and drastically improved the ride comfort through suspension tweaks, but neither is perfect. So it is more about what you looking for whether you choose an older or newer Civic.
Performance and economy
Refinement of the engines is at the pinnacle of what Honda is trying to achieve rather than pure performance. Still, the Civics' engine range is impressively powerful and will make you sit up and take note when you put your foot down. This is blended expertly with the economy and efficiency that Japanese car makers are famed for, but the sheer refinement is still where they excel.
The Honda Civic is by no means perfect however it does go a long way to winning both your head and your heart.