Time Well Spent: Honda Civic E-HEV Advance – 8/10

Mike Humble


“There is a lot to like about the new Civic”

The Civic e – HEV Advance

Now in its eleventh generation, the new Civic marks a turning point not only in technology, but in its styling too. Quite a few potential buyers were put off a little bit owing to, what many people thought, was an over-styled shape. The current model, despite being heavily laden with technology, is a lot more conservatively designed and easy on the eye. It’s grown a little bigger too but that isn’t a bad thing and despite the aforementioned, it’s unmistakably a Honda from whichever angle you look at it from. As you would expect from a Honda you’ll find nothing to complain about in terms of external fit and finish. All the panel gaps are lined up with ruthless precision and the application of the paint looks to be right up there with the best in its class.

The gloss black alloy wheels shod with low profile tyres give the car a sleek, low and sporting stance and just the right diameter as not to seem lost in the wheel arches or fill them out to make you worry about a tooth shattering ride. What is of note is the fact that this is the first Civic to offer any form of electric or hybrid propulsion in the UK. Other rivals such as Toyota have been offering a greener choice for over a decade, and it’s Toyota with its Corolla that the Civic locks horns with in terms of hybrid technology. The Corolla offers saloon and estate options too but the Civic comes in just one body style – a 5dr hatchback.

Despite the clutter free look, its packed with some really clever driving aids and technology. Best of all, its pretty easy to use too – well done Honda!

On the inside, those who found Honda infotainment features fussy and tiresome to decipher will be pleased. The updated screens, virtual dials and twiddly buttony bits are a world apart from the complicated affairs you’d find in the old version. I deliberately tried to operate the car without once referring to the glovebox handbook – and managed. The virtual dials (always a tough item to do with conviction) look pretty good on the eye and the touchscreen is a million times better to fathom than it used to be. In fact, I’d go so far to say that you wouldn’t believe how much technology this car has until you sit and have a play with the controls and buttons – it’s there just kept to a minimum in terms of dashboard clutter.

You can tell that Honda had a long hard sit down and think before going ahead and evolving the Civic into another generation. Yes it’s Japanese in its execution but very European in terms of user friendliness. Everything you need but pleasingly nothing too gimmicky or naff – very efficient, very well done – very Honda. If you jumped ship out of a Golf or a Focus it genuinely won’t take you long to get at one with the Civic. The same applies while on the move, it doesn’t do anything any worse than its main rivals, very tidy handling, good sharp if a touch lifeless steering and a decent ride are all plus points. The brakes are absolutely excellent too, in fact, the only thing I noted that goes anywhere to blot the copybook is a high level of tyre noise on rough or concrete topped road surfaces.

Despite plenty of weight saving in its construction, the Civic feels well made and has impressive tight feeling chassis control. Good supportive seats and low slung position adds to the driving experience.

Performance is brisk (expect 8 seconds to reach 60mph) and despite the fact the final drive is via two electric motors rather than a CVT type gearbox, the power delivery is smooth and strong and when running in sport mode, the driveline pretends to go through a series of “virtual” ratios and even pumps a little bit of a wailing V6 soundtrack through the speakers – I quite liked that touch and so did the passengers. No issues whatsoever with the seats, they’re comfortable and figure hugging not to mention having one of the quickest working heating systems I have come across. As any habitual Honda owner will note is the slightly lower than normal driving position. There are plenty of spaces for goods, chattels and other nick nacks you might have on your person and the boot seems to be well shaped and capacious – partly owing to the small battery pack.

When it comes to economy, I found the Civic to be generally good. The 2.0 petrol unit which is a bog standard no frills fuel injected item in turn runs the two electric drive motors via a 1.05KwH battery pack. As a consequence the amount of time spent in pure electric mode is very short indeed but as mentioned before it’s all very smooth and very well engineered. One thing I really did notice is the lack of the “mooing cow” sound effect you find with a normal CVT hybrid driveline when you really want to get a move on – Auris and Corolla drivers will know exactly what I am getting at here. Other points of note include very good visibility owing to its larger side windows and refreshingly slim front ‘A’ posts giving the driver extra subconscious confidence when manoeuvring in tight areas of heavy traffic.

Honda claims 56mpg and 114G/Km on this  top of the line ‘Advance’ model so it’s right up there with its Toyota Corolla 2.0 rival on a par so to speak. Yet the Civic, for me anyway, beats it by a whisker despite having a slightly reduced range of pure ‘EV’ power, and that reason is purely on driver enjoyment. The chassis feels really stiff and that allied to smile inducing handling and a reasonably soothing ride means you can move with the environmental times without sacrificing too much driver enjoyment. A lot of other matters go in its favour too. A 90,000 mile warranty and 12 year body corrosion warranty means ownership confidence too not to mention a network of generally very good dealers – Honda outlets tend to be among the very best.

There is a lot to like about the new Civic… try one and tell us what you think!

MODEL –  Civic e – HEV Advance


Co2 – 114g (combined)

MPG – 56.5mpg (claimed) 52mpg on test

DRIVELINE – 2.0 16v with intelligent twin electric motor final drive with three pre-set drive modes

PERFORMANCE – 0 – 60 in 8.1 seconds


  • A really enjoyable drive
  • Impressive driver safety features
  • Clever technology that’s easy to use
  • Spirited handling and excellent brakes
  • Excellent visibility and headlights
  • Comfortable interior with a generally good ride comfort
  • Engine / driveline refinement
  • Superb level of equipment


  • High level of tyre noise on rough roads
  • No proper parcel shelf – the retractable roll of lino still remains!
  • Pure electric range rather poor compared to rivals
  • Lack of advertising – people need to know!
  • Only one body style on offer currently
  • Benefit In Kind for fleet drivers not the best


For more information on the Honda Civic and / or the Honda range CLICK HERE

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