Honda Civic e:HEV – The most chauffeur-friendly hybrid on the market

My first test in 2023 and right off the bat I have to say probably the best week with a car I’ve ever had while testing. From the heart, with emotion and seriously I declare that this is the car I would buy. But let’s get this nicely out of the way…

The time spent on the new generation Honda Civic was a really nourishing lesson in how it should be done. The Civic has been with us for approx. 50 years and boasts over 27 million units sold in 170 countries around the world. So it’s clear from those figures alone that this is a very important model that has always been a part of automotive history.
Honda recently launched the 11th generation Civic in the Slovak market as well. This, already a traditional model of the Japanese carmaker, comes back to earth in terms of design. Gone are the space-age shapes and patvars of previous generations. The new Civic has a sleek and elegant design that builds on the previously introduced new H-RV and Jazz models. Appearance is an individual matter, but for myself, I have to say I like the new Civic. The front end is dominated by the narrow headlights, which are integrated together with the radiator grille into a single optical unit. The shape of the headlamps, including their daylight signature, then lend the Civic a suitably dynamic expression. Also noteworthy is the shaping of the front bumper, which features mouldings at its lower corners that flow very effectively through to the two front doors. This solution also includes the interesting shaping of the sill of the car itself.
The side profile has, quite typically for this model, a low roof silhouette and a fairly long wheelbase by the standards of such a vehicle, which noticeably pushes the rear axle towards the rear. To evoke the sporty look of the coupe body, the carmaker has stretched the wheelbase announced earlier by 35 mm, but at the same time shortened the rear body overhang by a full 20 mm. The rear end is then visually completed by the rather bulky headlights, which are also linked at the top. However, not by a light as such, but only by a light pipe, in which there is a third brake light in the centre. The smoothly sloping rear is largely formed by the bulky boot lid, which is made using a new manufacturing technology using resin and is 20% lighter than the previous generation.
The interior has also undergone a significant transformation, looking elegant, made of high-quality materials and with perfect ergonomics of operation. At first glance, you’ll be struck by the interconnected air-conditioning exhalations, which look exclusive. I must also commend Honda for continuing to put separate controls in its vehicles for the air conditioning and also for all other essential vehicle functions. Gone, on the other hand, are the days when Honda had sub-par multimedia systems in its vehicles. The new Honda CONNECT system has a 9-inch display, an intuitive and fast interface, and also supports wireless connectivity to your phone via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s just a shame that the display surface is quite prone to fingerprints.
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I must also mention the car’s equipment, which is already very rich at the base. Even the lowest Elegance trim level includes, for example, an advanced steering assistance system including sign recognition or lane keeping, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, a multimedia system, LED headlights, parking sensors and a rearview camera. The top Advance trim tested also has Bose premium audio, with a subwoofer (it sounds incredibly good, by the way), adaptive high-beam headlights, or a larger 10.2-inch virtual cockpit (lower trims have a 7-inch one). In terms of spaciousness, there’s more than enough room in both the front and rear seats, and the boot is 404 litres (lower trims without the subwoofer have 6 litres more).
But let’s get to the important stuff. Powering the latest Civic is an all-hybrid powertrain, referred to as the e:HEV. The powertrain consists of a two-litre four-cylinder, an electric motor, a generator, a 1.05kW lithium-ion battery and an e-CVT fixed-gear transmission. This is an enhanced version of the hybrid powertrain also found in the CR-V. Also in the Civic, this solution has a system output of 135kW (184k), a respectable 315Nm and three distinct modes of operation. Either the electric motor is driven directly from the battery, or the combustion engine supplies power to the generator which sends it back to the electric motor, or the clutch locking mechanism creates a direct link between the petrol engine and the wheels. So the new Civic is driven forward primarily by the electric motor. The new engine also achieves an industry-leading 41% thermal efficiency thanks to innovations.
The gasoline engine only engages directly at higher speeds. With the electric motor taking the lead, the ride is incredibly smooth and throttle response is instantaneous. What’s more, the hybrid system is extremely economical – long-term consumption will stay around 5 litres per 100 km even in brisk driving. For motorway, district and city driving. With today’s electricity prices and looking at the new charging station price lists, I can boldly state that running a hybrid Civic in mixed mode, will be perhaps even cheaper than if you had a heavy duty electric car with consumption often over 20-30kWh/100km.
When driving in urban environments, the vehicle runs in EV Drive mode most of the time, producing zero emissions and taking advantage of the smooth and responsive characteristics of the electric drive system. When the driver needs stronger acceleration, the vehicle switches to Hybrid Drive and the wheels are driven by a powerful electric motor, with the internal combustion engine generating the necessary electricity. When driving at a constant high speed, for example on the motorway, the system switches to engine drive and is powered directly and efficiently by the petrol engine with minimal losses, supported by the electric motor as required. As the required drive energy increases towards top speed, the system switches back to hybrid drive to unleash the full power of the electric motor.
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In all driving modes, energy is recovered during braking and deceleration to improve overall efficiency, resulting in remarkably low fuel consumption, especially when driving intermittently in traffic. Thanks to the high stiffness of the crankshaft and secondary balancer shaft, the engine has lower vibration across the entire rev range compared to previous generations of the e:HEV system, enabling a smooth ride in all driving modes. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is a matter of 8.1 seconds and the top speed is 180 km/h. Less equipped versions are a few hundredths better. Unlike the smaller Jazz and HR-V, however, the Civic doesn’t suffer from running out of breath at higher speeds. In fact, even on the motorway or up a steep hill on a county road, it accelerates very willingly. A kind of emotion and “normality” to the ride is added by the virtual gears, which, on the whole, mask the engine’s dial when accelerating harder.
The chapter itself is then the chassis, which for me is absolutely fantastic. The Civic sits perfectly in any sharp corner, changes direction willingly, dampens well and communicates brilliantly with the driver. The Honda boasts very precise and communicative steering and well proportioned brakes. Something that’s quite rare in today’s over-powered and detached from reality world of boring cars. So the new Civic is clearly the “chauffeuriest” hybrid on the market, and shows that even electrification is no barrier to the experience behind the wheel of a conventional car. The icing on the cake, then, is that it offers the perfect driving position behind the wheel. The Hyundai i30N may have all the power it wants, but it’s much worse to sit in. I don’t have even one single small complaint about driving the Civic. Period.
Honda’s configurator isn’t very diverse, and so there are only three trim levels available for the new generation. These are the Elegance trim, which is on offer for €29,890 including VAT. Then there’s the Sport trim for €30,990 and the top-of-the-range Advance version for a cool €34,490. In addition, the tested vehicle had the optional white pearl metallic paint for just €600. And since Honda believes in the quality of its cars, it also offers an 8-year loyalty program that covers hybrid components such as the powertrain control unit or the lithium battery pack. The new Honda Civic in its eleventh generation is a vehicle that offers a lot to its customers. From a nice exterior to a well-crafted, pleasantly uncluttered and spacious interior, to fantastic driving performance and fuel-efficient operation. The combination of steering, chassis and an absolutely perfectly tuned hybrid brings a tremendous amount of comfort, well-being and adequate performance aboard the Civic. I haven’t felt as comfortable on board as I do in this Honda in a long, long time…
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