Road Test: Honda Civic 1.8 i-VTEC ES
Sector: Lower medium Price: £19,380 Fuel: 47.1mpg CO2: 143g/km
Once upon a time, Honda was feted for its petrol engines, screaming banshees that could be thrashed to a high redline and beyond.
Now, in Europe at least, that sporting kudos has less value, obsessed as we are with the low torque and efficiency of diesel engines. And the 142bhp 1.8-litre engine in this model could hardly rank up there with the Type-R’s and NSX’s in the pantheon of the engineering gods.
It’s a reedy, rather weedy thing, and needs quite a lot of work to keep it on the boil, although fortunately the necessarily excessive use of the gearbox is rather enjoyable thanks to its highly engineered, snicky nature.
So would any fleet driver have it over the diesel version? Unlikely, as the low CO2 of the 2.2-iDTEC makes it cheaper tax wise.
But surprisingly, in terms of wholelife costs the petrol and diesel Civics are quite closely aligned. The diesel version is cheaper on fuel and has retains a marginally better residual value percentage (both are strong performers on this front), but from a higher starting price point. And with the SMR rates of the petrol cheaper it all evens itself out to within 2p per mile of each other.
The question is though, would you have the new Civic at all, in either format? Certainly I had numerous discussions with people about the design, which often ended with the general conclusion that the old one was by far the better-looking car. Those rear lights are, shall we say, challenging.
Interior materials are of a much higher standard, but some of the functionality on the infotainment system has that arcane quality only Japanese brands have perfected. Tuning the radio and syncing the phone were two particular technopuzzles that took some time to solve.
The new Civic rides better than the old one, but I found the seats fairly uncomfortable, although there is plenty of space in the cabin.
There is much to commend the new Civic, such as higher quality and strong residuals, and some of the shortcomings of the old car have been addressed, such as the ride comfort. But the styling divides opinion and a diesel is the better option than this petrol version.