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Honda Civic diesel offers economy of scale for high-milers

Honda Civic now offers a revised 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine with manual and automatic gearboxes. Picture: Honda

Honda Civic now offers a revised 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine with manual and automatic gearboxes. Picture: Honda

Honda

Honda now offers a 1.6-litre diesel powertrain in its Civic alongside the 1.0 and 1.5-litre petrol models. Tom Wiltshire takes it for a spin.

Bold styling makes Honda Civic stand out but could be divisive. Picture: HondaBold styling makes Honda Civic stand out but could be divisive. Picture: Honda

When Honda launched the 10th-generation Civic, it offered only petrol power – that’s now been rectified with a 1.6-litre diesel aimed at maximum economy for high-mileage motorists.

The engine is lifted from the old diesel Civic but heavily revised – steel pistons replace aluminium ones, while a new turbocharger reduces lag – for even better performance and economy.

The rest of the car is much the same as the rest of the range, and therefore benefits from a new platform and distinctive new look, as well as an improved and rather more conventional interior.

Looks and image

Diesel engine has been revised for better performance and economy. Picture: HondaDiesel engine has been revised for better performance and economy. Picture: Honda

The diesel Civic looks identical to the petrol models but the bold styling, with cuts and slashes all over the bodywork, could be divisive.

The Civic is longer, wider and lower than the car it replaced, with a return to a more orthodox rear seat layout.

Under the bonnet

The 1.6-litre diesel produces a competitive 120PS and 300Nm of torque but the Civic never feels particularly fast and the torque band is relatively narrow so you need to stir the six-speed gearbox – fortunately it’s wonderful to use. There’s now also a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Low-slung driving position but interior is dull compared to exterior. Picture: HondaLow-slung driving position but interior is dull compared to exterior. Picture: Honda

It’s also very efficient. Though you’re unlikely to hit the claimed 80mpg, we found 60mpg easily achievable – with long runs likely to see more.

How does it drive?

The heavier diesel engine doesn’t impact handling much, so it still steers accurately, grips well and doesn’t roll too much through bends.

It rides well too – the test car’s adaptive dampers allow you to feel the bumps without suffering.

Space and comfort

The latest Civic is low-slung and sporty but is very comfortable with supportive seats and plenty of leg and headroom. The boot is similarly spacious, with a huge underfloor compartment, deep bay and low sill, plus an innovative side-scrolling parcel shelf which is far easier to store than a bulky parcel shelf.

The dashboard is also more conventional but there are some niggles such as the stereo’s touch-sensitive volume control.

Equipment

The EX test car came fully loaded with 17in black alloy wheels, full leather interior, upgraded stereo, adaptive dampers, LED headlights and all-round heated seats but it’s pricey. Step down to SR and it still has dual-zone climate control, parking camera, auto lights and wipers and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Final say

An interesting design and brilliant economy help it stand out from rivals but the interior is dull by comparison. Perhaps the Civic’s worst enemy is itself with the very efficient 1.0-litre petrol engine making you wonder if the extra MPG is worth it.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC EX £24,950 (hatchback range from £20.245)

Engine: 1,597cc, 120PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-62mph 10.2 seconds; top speed 125mph

MPG: 80.7 combined

CO2 emissions: 93g/km

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