Road Test: Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC EX
Honda’s brilliant small diesel engine joins the Civic line-up, but can it match its predecessor’s frugality? Alex Grant finds out.
SECTOR Lower Medium PRICE £24,950 FUEL 80.7mpg CO2 93g/km
As if decision-makers weren’t facing enough confusion, this year marks the transition to a new fuel economy standard and all sorts of grey areas around ‘real-world’ versus published consumption. But there’s an easy way to guarantee low fuel bills; opt for a Civic diesel.
That might sound conflicted, given that the larger CR-V is no longer available with this engine, but diesel is a core offer for the Civic, especially in fleet, and the outgoing car was renowned for its frugality with even the least economically-minded driver at the wheel. It’s taken a year to find its way into the new one – claimed to be because of the latest Euro standards being finalised – and five years of extra development bode well for what was already a strong performer.
Fundamentally, it’s a similar offer. Honda’s all-aluminium diesel still produces 118bhp, but it’s lighter than the outgoing version, features lower-friction internals and is said to emit less NOx too – interestingly, without moving to selective catalytic reduction (AdBlue) as others have. While published figures suggest only a minor improvement in fuel economy, owing to the conversion back to NEDC Correlated data, in theory it should be at least as good, if not better, than its predecessor.
This seems to be true. Our test car had barely covered 1,000 miles, but managed almost 70mpg on a long motorway run with some light-footed driving and Econ mode switched on, or low 60s to the gallon without any effort at all. It’s just as eager off the mark as its predecessor was, too, though seemingly neither as well insulated for noise and vibration, especially at low speeds.
It’s frugal despite growing significantly between generations. This is one of the biggest cars in its class; now slightly longer than a first-generation Mondeo, and closer to an Octavia than a Golf, Astra or Focus. Rear legroom is generous, and the sportier seating position is an improvement, but boot capacity hasn’t increased, the upwards-folding rear bench has gone, and Honda has no plans for a Tourer this time. Its fuel tank has shrunk too, from 50 litres down to 46, but that’s still enough for 550-600 miles between trips to the pump.
EX is the highest trim level offered with a diesel engine, but it doesn’t leave many options unticked. Leather upholstery, all-round parking sensors with a reversing camera to overcome the limited rear visibility, adaptive cruise control and Garmin based navigation are all highlights, though the variable dampers are overkill for what’s already a sure-footed car. However, the dashboard isn’t particularly well laid out, with USB and HDMI ports hidden under the dashboard, and fiddly menus on the instruments and infotainment display. They’re quirks you’d get used to eventually, though, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity offer some simpler alternatives.
Fleets have never had more choice when it comes to fuel-efficient transport. But, even after this year’s fuel consumption confusion washes out, the return of diesel power gives Honda a segment benchmark once again.
What We Think:
Fussy controls and divisive design aside, the Civic stacks up well as a fleet car. It’s good to drive, well equipped and spacious, with some genuinely impressive fuel economy to boot.
FIND OUT MORE: To discover how the new Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC can benefit your fleet, visit The Fleet Show 2018 and visit Honda’s stand. Click here to register for free.