What is it?
The Honda Civic ‘4 Door’ is a saloon variant of the brand’s core family car.
Coupe styling, four doors, large boot
The Honda Civic 4 Door is a visually appealing and roomy alternative to the hatch, with efficient engines and a comfort-biased on-the-road performance.
It’s slightly let down by an interior that no longer keeps pace with recent rivals, and with the continuing indifference towards saloons amongst the UK car buying public, it will remain rather rarer on the roads than its now more mainstream hatch sister.
Mazda 3, SEAT Toledo, Skoda Octavia
For many years, UK motorists have been quite happy to drive four-door cars – so long as their boots bear premium badges from the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Jaguar.
However, any efforts by manufacturers to market volume-market saloons – that on the continental market do alright, thank you very much – have floundered. In the UK we like our hatchbacks.
Honda, however, clearly believes it can find a market for a saloon version of its family car, the Civic, as the ‘Civic 4 Door’ (clearly, the company doesn’t want to use the “S” word) is now arriving in showrooms. It follows the tenth-generation hatch, which when it launched in early 2017 was considered a major step forward over previous models.
The saloon shares most of the same DNA of the hatch – it’s a larger car on a new platform, which will mean significantly more space over its predecessor. Forward of the front door pillar, four-door matches five-door.
But from here the roofline slopes downwards, and the rear flanks are higher to produce a distinctly different and less bold visual impression than does the hatch. Add in a larger, if not that much larger, boot and the car could appeal to those for whom the Civic hatch is just a little too ‘in-your-face.’
It’s not that different, mind. Visually it looks much more like the hatch than it does the traditional idea of a saloon, though Honda has come up with an elegant, coupe-like profile that really suits the car.
A word of warning for those considering themselves flag-waving Brits. While Honda’s UK plant in Swindon exports Civic hatch models all over the world, it doesn’t make the saloons – they are built in Turkey…
Buying and owning a Honda Civic 4 Door
The Civic saloon range is simple – a choice of two engines (fewer than available with the hatch) but with the same three trim levels.
Entry price is £19,395, which buys the 1.0-litre turbo petrol variant in SE trim. You get 129hp, a 0-62mph time of 10.7 seconds (with a manual transmission), fuel economy of 58.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 110g/km.
The alternative is a 1.6-litre diesel with 120hp on tap. It’s quicker than the petrol version, cresting 62mph in 9.9 seconds, and it’s more efficient, with plus 83mpg and emissions as low as 91g/km. But it is also £1,350 more expensive to buy.
There are as many transmission options as trim levels. The petrol can be had with either a six-speed manual or CVT auto gearbox, the latter ever so slightly more efficient with 60.1mpg and 107g/km.
The diesel can be bought with the manual or Honda’s new nine-speed auto transmission. It’s a clever unit, this, able if necessary to skip gears – for example, it can go straight from ninth to fifth gear on the down change. While a smooth and refined unit, it does come with an efficiency penalty of some 14mpg and 17g/km.
The Civic does score on its safety package, though it took modifications to its side airbags to persuade Euro NCAP to retest it and give it a full five-star safety rating. From entry level upwards the safety suite includes autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition.
It requires a rise in grade, however, to get the niceties many buyers desire, such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration, rain-sensing wipers, climate control and parking sensors. These all come on SR models which are £1,845 more expensive than the SE.
Range-topper is the EX, another £2,860 paying for leather seats heated front and rear, keyless entry and starting, LED headlights with washers, LED fog lights and wireless phone charging.
Inside the Honda Civic 4 Door
One of the plusses of the latest Honda Civic hatch is its increased interior room, thanks to the car being wider and longer (the latter by almost 14cm) than its predecessor. Mind you it is also lower, but this does not seem to compromise any interior headroom.
The saloon is longer still, by another 13cmm and yes, a very roomy car. And it has a bigger boot too, the already generous 478 litres of the five-door enlarged to swallow 519 litres. But it’s not as convenient a space as the hatch, the boot lid getting in the way when loading larger items.
In terms of fit and finish, saloon unsurprisingly replicates hatch. In our five-door review, we highlighted how the driver’s surroundings, in particular, were far more mainstream than the quirky curves and pods of the previous version. And this remains true of the four-door, as is the fact that it all works properly.
But, it is very quickly beginning to look somewhat dated. Coming to the Civic shortly after driving the latest Ford Focus, a direct rival, the interior feels last-generation. The graphics on the infotainment unit in particular – we’d advise buyers to go for at least the mid-range model so you can make use of the up-to-date and frequently updated versions of smartphone apps such as the navigation instead of Honda’s offering.
Driving the Honda Civic 4 Door
At the launch event, The Car Expert drove cars with both engines. Interestingly, Honda believes that, even in the current changing environment, the diesel will significantly outsell the petrol unit – especially to fleet customers.
Both engines are effective, as you expect from Honda, and yes, we particularly liked the diesel. Mind you the 1.0-litre petrol is by no means outshone, and there would seem little reason to add the hatch’s larger 1.5-litre option to the four-door line-up.
The building blocks of the tenth-generation Civic – a new platform, less weight with a lower centre of gravity, and sophisticated suspension – resulted in vastly improved road manners over its predecessor, and the saloon maintains the trend.
There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a big family car and that size will make itself felt if you try to haul it aggressively through corners. But this car is not about that, not about trying to be a Civic Type R.
The Civic saloon’s natural territory will be the motorway, cruising in refined style, emphasising comfort. The car does that very well indeed, while if you take the bendy bits like a normal person, the well-weighted steering will provide all the feedback required for confident progress.
It’s easy to sum up the Civic 4 Door. It takes all the good elements of the latest hatch, plus some of the more average bits, and adds some quirky bits of its own.
There’s no denying that it looks good from outside, in some ways better than the hatch, and the only real minus point compared to its five-door sister is the slightly awkward boot opening.
So will it break through the apathy felt by UK buyers towards volume market saloon cars? Probably not. Its sheer size might appeal to those looking for a replacement to the now no-longer-available Toyota Avensis. And it might strike a chord with those who like what Honda does but also want something a little more bespoke.
Such people, however, will enjoy the car’s exclusivity, because it will very likely remain a niche model. You will not see too many of these at the motorway services or in the company car park…
|Make & model||Honda Civic 4 Door||Mazda 3 Fastback||SEAT Toledo|
|Engine||1.0-litre petrol||2.0-litre petrol||1.0-litre petrol|
|Power||129 hp||120 hp||110 hp|
|Torque||200 Nm||210 Nm||200 Nm|
|0-62mph||10.7 sec||8.8 sec||9.8 sec|
|Top speed||130 mph||123 mph||124 mph|
|Fuel economy (combined)||58.6 mpg||55.4 mpg||61.4 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||110 g/km||119 g/km||106 g/km|
|Euro NCAP rating||5 stars (2017)||Not tested||5 stars (2012)|