The legacy of the Honda Civic spans over five decades, marking a journey that has only grown more robust with time. That’s the history lesson over with. Today, the Honda Civic is in its tenth generation, much like Doctor Who regenerating from one to the other, the 2023 Civic is now the Doctor Who we all want to aspire to be. This isn’t an aloof, data-driven nerd; no, this is the 2023 Honda Civic, and it does what the Honda Civic lineage has always done—it’s always better than the alternative.
I appreciate the new exterior design language; it’s more refined and consistent, demonstrating restraint where less often truly means more. The interior marks a significant shift in design, maintaining a cleaner, simple and mature approach with fewer buttons, resulting in a vastly improved visual experience. The build quality and fit/finish are excellent across the board, from switchgear to door panels.
The materials used throughout, a blend of soft-touch and hard plastics, are strategically incorporated to impart a premium feel. However, it falls just a bit short of achieving that premium touch—close, but not quite there. The 9-inch infotainment system is easy to use, snappy, and responsive. The user interface is much cleaner and simpler compared to the almost washed-out cartoon graphics of previous years. Additionally, it supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Honda has Finally transitioned entirely to a fully configurable digital instrument cluster. However, it’s worth noting that the entry-level model makes do with an analogue display. The interior space is generally good for a car in this segment. The boot offers 404 litres with the rear seats up and up to 1,220 litres with the seats down. The rear hatch opening significantly boosts practicality. Upfront, the cabin is spacious, and in the rear, it’s big enough for most, except for the unusually tall.
Comfort levels are good, although I the seats are a bit firm and over long distances, I did feel discomfort creeping in. The tenth-generation Civic is available in the UK in three models: Elegance, Sport and Advance derivatives, with prices starting from £34k for the entry-level model and rising to £39k for the top-spec model. Standard equipment throughout the range is seriously good and includes a suite of active and passive safety systems.
Powering the Civic is Honda’s automatic only 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, 143 PS, and 186 Nm of torque petrol-hybrid engine. While not boasting the most powerful engine, the Civic, when combined with its hybrid system acting almost like a turbo boost, delivers a sensation of speed far beyond what the specifications might imply.
I have never been a fan of Honda’s hybrid drivetrain because I have found it a little dull. But in the new Civic, it has been upgraded to be less ponderous and more life-affirming. It is a zesty engine and can sprint into action like a 100M sprinter; a 7-second 0-60mph time is respectable. Even the laborious CVT feels more alive, whereas previously, it felt like the shifts were some kind of medieval slow torture.
They call hybrids“self-charging” these days. The Civic will do 50mph around in-town driving and 50 mph on a combined motorway (highway run), that’s the consistency I can live with. On short, 5-mile journeys I was getting 70mpg because the hybrid system is being worked more during urban/town/city driving.
Honda’s latest hybrid system is just so much better than before. Yes, it only has between 1-1.5 miles of range, because the battery is so small, but the charge is always being recycled through braking and coasting and you can boost the battery with re-gen, so you never lose battery power.
However, the most significant improvement lies in the handling. I won’t delve into details about suspension engineering, but this little Honda exhibits dazzling handling and ride performance. Combined with a steering that feels alive, the Honda Civic is thrilling to drive. It feels lightweight, allowing you to confidently throw it into corners where it grips, leaving you yearning for more—until you find yourself in a hedgerow.
Achieving this level of precision is usually reserved for the best, most expensive performance cars. But here’s the Honda Civic, a seemingly randomly and objectively uninteresting car to most slaying the performance giants (in terms of ride and handling) with just 184 bhp.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting the Honda Civic to offer anything beyond a bland experience, anticipating it to be a fireside stocking filler before the much-anticipated thunder and lightning of the Civic Type R. However, the baseline chassis, suspension setup, and The engine upgrade has miraculously transformed the Civic from a nerdy, bespectacled librarian into a rock star proudly sporting a suit from Marks & Spencer.