Gareth Butterfield reviews the new four-door version of the Honda Civic
I’VE got a friend who is a die-hard Honda fan. He’s owned several over the years, buying them from new and then keeping them until he fancies a change.
His old Accord is doing pretty well, despite its advancing years, but he’s desperate for a change to keep up with modern safety technology and to have a few more gadgets to play with.
The trouble has been, for a good while now, he likes saloons. He prefers an external boot and a fixed parcel shelf and doesn’t like the looks of a hatchback. Well, Honda has finally made him the perfect car.
It’s the new Civic 4 Door and it’s a saloon version of its latest Civic hatchback. It’s sort of a surprise launch, because it’s a market that’s currently dying a slow death.
The darling of this sector has always been the Ford Mondeo and that’s about to cough its last, while the buying public is currently obsessed with SUVs, estates and hatchbacks.
So it’s an interesting move for Honda, and perhaps a response to the staunch loyalty of their typical customer. Honda buyers tend not to move away from the brand and perhaps, in the same way, they like to stick to their favoured body style.
Ostensibly, there’s little to differentiate between the two cars, other than the design at the back end. And it’s something of an important change with the new saloon, because some people have found the five-door hatchback’s fussy lines and angles a little too much.
The saloon, on the other hand, is really quite pretty. Having a flatter boot means it’s far more subtle and elegant, and the swoopy lights fit in really well with the rest of the body’s sharp angles.
Overall, it’s just a more grown-up car. It looks better suited to a typical Honda saloon buyer and my friend, who reads The Times, enjoys an afternoon nap and tinkers from time to time with a model railway, is going to be chomping at the bit to buy one.
The engine range for the saloon is similar to the five-door hatch but the saloon misses out on the 182PS 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo petrol unit. And there’s no Type-R version planned. Not yet, at least.
This leaves choice of a 129PS 1.0 VTEC Turbo petrol unit or a 120PS 1.6 i-DTEC diesel, each being mated to either a 6-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission.
You won’t find any major compromise on interior space, happily. The 4 Door’s boot is still a decent size, despite it obviously having a narrower opening. And space in the back seats is still good – no problems here.
It still has Honda’s great driving position, fine build quality and you can expect it to be every bit as reliable as its hatch-backed sibling.
There is a slight hitch in that the price of the saloon is higher, but the premium’s only a few hundred quid, depending on your spec requirements, and that would soon be swallowed up in a finance deal.
The only other fly in the ointment, and this will make my friend itch, is that it’s not an Accord. The Civic, historically, has always been the lowlier model in the line-up. But there isn’t currently an Accord on offer and, truth be told, the Civic has grown in size to such an extent that it’s as big as his old workhorse anyway.
So if you’re still in the market for a saloon, give the Civic a try. It’s a fine looker as a four-door and there’s little to dislike about it. They’re not really my cup of tea, but it is nice to see the shape making a return, if not perhaps a comeback.