While the Civic sedan has been something of a success for Honda in New Zealand, at our hearts we still prefer a small hatch over a sedan any day in the Kiwi market.
So it is a great sign for Honda’s local sales that there is now a five-door hatch version often Civic.
Like the sedan, the hatch is a modern and surprisingly aggressive design that is also distinctly Japanese. But without being weird. Well, too weird. The angular headlights and gaping (fake) intakes underneath them look fantastic, while the overall look of the car is brilliantly modern.
Things do take a turn for the weird at the back though and from the side and rear 3/4 it can look a little awkward and forced, like the designer wasn’t really too sure how to turn a sedan into a hatch.
Inside, the interior is clean, modern, attractive and nicely laid out. There are good quality materials on all contact points throughout the cabin, and it is packed full of clever little features that Honda do so well.
There are still quite a few areas of flimsy, cheap plastics however, even though they are pretty well hidden, and the touchscreen infotainment system is messy and quite frustrating to use. The lack of a proper volume knob is also really annoying…
Under the bonnet Honda’s 1.5-litre petrol turbo four-cylinder engine is a delightfully eager little unit. Revvy and flexible, it is impressively torquey across its rev range. Unfortunately, however, the great engine is hooked up to a particularly dreary continuously variable transmission that dulls the engine’s eager edge somewhat.
Like its sedan sibling, the Civic hatch sits on a wonderfully willing and responsive chassis. It has a deeply impressive ride for a small car and is a true delight to dance through a series of corners.
Sharp, responsive steering has a nice amount of feel and feedback, while the nose turns in with impressive sharpness.
Much like its sedan counterpart, the Honda Civic hatch is an impressive return to form for the Japanese manufacturer that had fallen into a pit of bland designs and uninspiring engines.
Exciting, adventurous styling, sharp dynamics and a brilliant new 1.5-litre turbo engine all place the Civic well at the pointy end of the small car segment.
It is a shame then, that Honda chose to saddle the excellent engine with a continuously variable transmission. Not that we can’t actually see why they have done it – after all, around town the CVT makes the Civic a delightfully smooth and refined thing.
Seamless power delivery and no shifts are utterly excellent around town, and the Civic is particularly good at this, making the most of the 1.5’s torque to make it seem like a far more expensive and larger car in terms of its on road behaviour.
This even applies to the Civic’s open road cruising abilities, with a relaxed, refined and incredibly mature big car approach to travelling long distances at open road speeds.
But because the Civic has such a wonderfully responsive chassis, it really does reward more spirited driving. Its just that the CVT doesn’t, which is massively frustrating.
Body type Five-door hatch
Drive Front-wheel drive
Engine type Inline 4-cylinder petrol turbo
Engine capacity 1.5-litres
Max power 127kW @ 5500rpm
Max torque 220Nm @ 1700rpm
l/100km (Combined) 6.0
C02 emissions 140g/km
Boot capacity 420 litres
Spare tyre Space saver
ANCAP rating Five star