2017 Honda Civic Hatch Road Test and Review…
For the first time in quite a while Honda Australia has a sedan and hatch version of the Civic that are compatible with each other.
Over the past decade or so the Honda Civic Hatch was a vehicle that was sourced from the UK and was entirely different to the Thai-sourced Civic Sedan.
But now, at last, that is a thing of the past, with the new 10th-generation Honda Civic line-up welcoming the all-new hatchback variant.
I got along to the Australian launch and had a drive, and as you might expect, the hatch isn’t very much different from the sedan.
I have the current Honda Civic among my top five small cars available in 2017.
Honda has even ensured pricing and model grades across the two body styles are the same too.
That means a starting price of $22,390 and five model grades to choose from.
There are a couple of small differences between the two though, they have slightly different grilles, and the hatch gets a rear spoiler above the rear window.
Honda also giving the two different variants a slightly different colour palette.
Again, as per the sedan, the two lower-spec models get the more traditional 1.8 litre petrol engine, the three upper-spec offerings step up to the 1.5 turbo-petrol unit.
Both engines come mated exclusively to a CVT auto.
There are big expectations for the hatch version of the new Civic, Honda telling us they’re aiming for 18,000 Australian sales in the next year, that figure more than double the expected sedan total.
So, what’s the new Honda Civic, and the Civic Hatch in particular, really like?
Well there are some things that are really pleasing about the Civic, and some things that let it down a little.
Again, I’m not a massive fan of the CVT. I find it takes the edge off engine performance.
These transmissions, not just in the Honda, just aren’t swift and responsive enough to give you a higher, or lower ratio (understanding that the CVT doesn’t actually have ‘gears’) quickly enough.
When you aren’t exactly flushed with power/torque, as is the case with the Civic, you find the drive less exciting than it could be, and perhaps what the external styling (especially the RS version) might promise.
I also felt a bit uncomfortable due to the hard/sharp edge on the console (as the photo below shows) when resting my leg there.
That part of the console tends to protrude out and it is a spot that may not have been as well thought-out as it could have been.
A couple of other observations that work to just take some shine off the new Civic include:
- Minimal headroom for taller driver/passenger in sunroof-equipped cars
- No rear air-conditioning/heater vents in any model grades
- Glove box, while sizable, can fall onto passenger’s legs (as happened to me)
- Engine noise, when engine is being worked
- Large wing-mirrors that can obstruct visibility
- ‘Clunk’ when sunroof cover is closed (sounds cheap/nasty)
- Lack of tactile feel on infotainment system buttons (RHS of the screen)
- Positioning of the USB input - all the way at the rear of centre console bin
- Infotainment system - perhaps not as easy to use/attractive as others
Conversely, there are some things to celebrate with the new Civic, including:
- Left-hand camera mirror function
- General fit and finish inside and out
- Very good rear seat legroom
- Handy lower console storage area
- Cabin sound insulation
- Incremental cruise control speed adjustment
- Pleasant ride and generally sharp handling
- Size of cabin storage areas
- Simple controls
- Fair pricing
- Standard features
- Boot space
Speaking of that boot space, Honda claiming the new Civic Hatch has the biggest boot in its class with 414 litres.
The rear cargo area can be shielded from prying eyes by way of a retractable ‘blind’ (shown below) that can be easily positioned to open east-west, or west-east.
And on the safety front the new Honda Civic Hatch/Sedan comes with a full five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The only issue with safety in regards to the Civic is the availability, or unavailability to be more precise, of forward collision warning/autonomous braking on lower-spec models.
Those features come as standard on the top-spec model, but aren’t, at this stage, available on lower-spec variants - even as optional extras.
Summing it up; there is a lot to like about the new Honda Civic and I have no doubt whatsoever that the hatch will help turbocharge Honda up the car sales charts over the next year.
It is a small car that you should test drive, however, whether or not it is a better package than any other of the popular offerings available in the category I will have to leave up to you.
NUTS and BOLTS - 2017 Honda Civic Hatch
Engine: 1,8 litre petrol producing 104kW/174Nm, or 1.5 litre turbo-petrol producing 127kW/220Nm
Transmission: CVT auto (only)
Safety: Five stars
Price: from $22,390