With its smooth hybrid power and clean-cut, svelte lines the new Honda Civic builds on 50 years of heritage, with more than 27.5million cars sold across 170 countries.

I ran the rule over the Japanese manufacturer’s eleventh-generation Civic on a week-long road test and discovered a family hatchback with winning ways.

Style file
The smooth, clean lines create a modern evolution of the model’s distinctive shape, with an uncluttered, elegant design that has oodles of eye-appeal. My test car, a top-of-the-range e:HEV Advance, looked dynamic and well-planted, sitting on 18in diamond cut alloy wheels.

Inside story

The five-door car majors on comfort, visibility and spaciousness. Slip behind the steering wheel and you will find interior refinement and space. The user-focused layout features high quality materials and an uncluttered instrument panel. 

The stylish, yet practical centre console design and layout features two cup holders while the large capacity central storage box has an arm rest with a mechanism that pops open the top automatically to 60 degrees, so that occupants do not need to twist their bodies.

The cabin is a welcoming place to be with bright and airy interior space for driver and passengers. A premium look has been achieved by applying a honeycomb mesh pattern on the dashboard’s full-width air vent aperture.

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A wealth of great, usable kit includes a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, heated door mirrors, eight-way electrically-adjustable heated front seats, heated steering wheel, LED front fog-lights, wireless charging for mobile phone, headlights with auto high beam and adaptive driving beam (plus coming home/leaving home function), glass panoramic roof, rear vent for air-conditioning, 12-speaker audio, satnav, adaptive cruise control, connectivity suite, and USB sockets for front and rear of the cabin.

On the practicality front, the rear seat has 60/40 split-fold, and there is illumination for the glove box and load area plus a map light. Load area capacity is 404 litres with the rear seat-back in place and 1,187 litres with the seat-back folded down.

High-tech safety features include road departure mitigation, traffic sign recognition, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, adjustable/intelligent speed-limiter and blind spot information including cross-traffic monitor.

On the road
The car is a treat to drive, with smooth power aplenty laid down in splendidly seamless fashion by the e-CVT transmission, while ride and handling are comfortable and well-judged. Visibility is excellent and the whole driving experience feels satisfying and reassuring.

Using a simple drive selector, drivers can effortlessly switch between four drive modes: ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’, ‘Eco’ and ‘Individual’. Sport mode sharpens throttle response and improves performance, while Eco mode adjusts throttle response to improve fuel efficiency. 

The new Individual mode allows users to tailor the Civic’s characteristics to suit their driving style, including steering weight and throttle response. At any time, the driver can switch back to Normal mode, where the car provides a set-up that balances performance and efficiency.

Performance and fuel economy (maker’s figures): 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds, top speed 112 mph; fuel consumption: 56.5mpg (combined); emissions: 114g/km.

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Tech time
The full-hybrid powertrain combines a power-dense lithium-ion battery and two compact, powerful electric motors with a newly developed 141bhp, two-litre direct-injection Atkinson-cycle petrol engine. 

The e:HEV system shifts without notice between EV, Hybrid and Engine Drive with no input from the driver. 

The whole process is seamlessly smooth.

When driving in an urban environment the car runs in EV Drive most of the time, producing zero emissions whilst utilising the seamless and responsive traits of electric drive. When the driver requires stronger acceleration, the car will switch to Hybrid Drive to propel the wheels via the powerful electric motor, with the petrol engine generating the required electric power.

When driving at constant high speeds, such as on the motorway, the system will shift to Engine Drive, and is directly and efficiently powered by the petrol engine with minimum losses and assisted by the electric motor when necessary. 

When the required drive energy becomes high towards top speed, the system switches back to Hybrid Drive to unleash the full output of the electric motor. In all drive modes, energy is harvested while braking and decelerating.

The system combines the responsiveness and power of an electric motor, with the long-range refinement of a petrol engine to impress in both urban and rural driving. It not only provides instant response when accelerating at low speeds but also at high speeds on the motorway.

With its excellent hybrid power system, handsome lines, top features and comfortable interior, the new Civic proves a winning blend. My car of the year? It’s only early in 2023 but the new Civic will take some beating.

Price: £33,820 OTR