First Drive: Honda Civic 2022 Review

The 11th gen Honda Civic Hybrid is here...
03rd July 2022
Seán Ward



When Volkswagen launched the Mk8 Golf it garnered a lot of attention, understandably so, as it’s the VW flagship. When Honda unveiled this, the 11th generation Civic, in March 2022, it didn’t hit the headlines quite so hard. The reason? Well, the US-spec prototype was previewed at the end of 2020, the US-spec production car was unveiled in April 2021 and the car went on sale in the USA in June that year. So the big ‘here’s the European Civic’ fanfare was, well, a little quiet. Still, this is as important to Honda as the Golf is to Volkswagen. In the UK, it’s the big seller, way out ahead of the CR-V, HR-V, Jazz and Honda e. What’s more, it’ll form the basis of the new Type R coming at the end of 2022, so it’s certainly worth further inspection.

This is also the first Civic, with one or two minor exceptions, to have been built outside of the UK for more than two decades – every other Civic was built in Swindon from 1994 onwards and then exported to the rest of the world, including Japan, but that plant has now closed, production heading back to Honda’s homeland and, for US cars, to Indiana.

We like

  • Great steering and brakes
  • Smooth, seamless power delivery
  • So much of the tech and safety kit is standard

We don't like

  • Good but slightly safe styling
  • Dark interior
  • More than 100kg heavier than the old one



In terms of numbers, would it shock you if I were to say the new Civic is bigger than its predecessor in almost every way? Stay with me here. The roofline is 27mm lower but the overall length, width and wheelbase have grown by 31mm, 2mm and 35mm, the latter to give those sitting in the back a little extra leg room. The front overhang is 15mm larger, the rear 20mm shorter, while the front track is the same as it was before while the rear track is 18mm wider. The A-pillar, meanwhile, has been pushed back by 50mm. The result? Relative to the Golf or its chief rival, the Toyota Corolla, it has entirely lost its hatchback appearance, with an Accord-esque look. In profile, the nose looks huge and the gentle slope of the roof down to that small rear end makes it look almost like a shooting brake.

It’s not a bad looking car, with a clean, unfussy face, confident shoulder line running front to back and simple rear end. And for the first time it really looks like one in a family of Hondas, drawing heavily on the HR-Vs design (or should that be the other way around, given the Civic’s look was shown in 2020?). It just doesn’t have anything like the same character that some older Civics had – the spaceship-like eighth-generation springs immediately to mind, with its massive wraparound headlight design at the front, arrow-tip doorhandles and triangular exhausts.

Performance and Handling


The best place to start is with the powertrain. There’s an all-new 2.0-litre petrol engine, specifically a direct-injected, Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, that’s paired up to an electric motor which drives the wheels and lithium-ion battery, and it’s the only powertrain available. Why? Because the system has more power than the old 1.5-litre turbo, is more economical and produces less CO2 than the old 1.0-litre turbo, and dumps more torque than the old 1.6-litre diesel. It’s a lovely set-up, actually, as Honda’s engineers have sacrificed ultimate fuel economy by programming the engine to rev as if it were attached to a gearbox in something called Linear Shift Control. So while the HR-Vs engine meanders around the rev range and stays constant when you floor it, the Civic’s sounds more traditional. In terms of enjoyment, it’s miles nicer, and goodness gracious is this 2.0-litre so much quieter than the 1.5-litre in the HR-V. That is unless you put the car into Sport mode (there’s Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual for the first time), in which case there’s some not too bad synthesised engine noise pumped into the cabin. What’s more, on start up you pull away with EV power only, and the switch from electric drive to the engine is incredibly smooth, with a minor delay on kickdown if you’re at low revs and suddenly need to get a hurry on. The only let down is that there’s no way to keep the revs high if you’re on a decent section of road, the engine preferring to drop back down the range until you get on the gas again – the paddles you’ll find behind the wheel are to decide how much regen you’d like, of which there are four levels.

The electronic power steering lacks feedback but is direct and responsive, more so than the 10th generation Civic thanks to a system that can process six times the level of information than before, and mechanicals that offer 28 per cent less friction. That being said, turn into a corner with a tad too much speed and it doesn’t take much for the front tyres to let go. The suspension has a nice, controlled travel, although the roads on which we were driving were so smooth a ruffled bed sheet would have provided more of a damper workout, so a decent assessment of how the car rides will have to wait until we can get behind the wheel in the UK. The brakes, meanwhile, like those on the HR-V, are very good indeed – the feel through the pedal is consistent at all times, which is largely not the case in most hybrids.

As an aside, it’s interesting to note torsional rigidity has gone up by 22 per cent compared to the old car. There's more reinforcement in the floor and various other structures around the car, and more adhesive in the car’s construction, putting it on a par with the old Type R. Also worth noting is that while the lovely people at Honda will talk about how the boot lid is now made of resin and is 20 per cent lighter, and the bonnet now made of aluminium and therefore 43 per cent lighter, no one mentioned the overall weight, which has gone up. The old Civic, with the 1.5-litre motor, weight 1,341-1,396kg, but with all its fancy new tech this car tips the scales at 1,517-1,533kg.



If the exterior lacks character, so too does the interior. It’s like a Dementor has given it a once over – everything is very dark, crying out for a splash of colour. Having said that, with the exception of one or two trim pieces, it’s put together nicely and with decent quality materials, and there are a few lovely features. Honda should be praised for giving us a selection of physical controls for the infotainment system, climate control and traction control. There’s a little ledge on which to steady your hand as you reach out to use the navigation, too, proof that engineers have actually spent time using the car and have understood that trying to touch a flat screen is tricky if your hand is flying around all over the place when the road isn’t smooth. The little levers that adjust the air vents, and the mesh that covers the vents and runs the length of the dashboard, are fun design details, too (the little ‘air curtain’ vents you get in the HR-V don’t feature here, again because this car is secretly older from a design perspective). And you know how some cars have steering wheels so thick you might as well be wrapping your hands around a lamppost? The Civic’s wheel thickness is delightfully well-judged. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Less good are the seats, which are comfortable enough but unless you go for the top-level Advance trim you can’t adjust the angle of the base, so in the Sport model and therefore in the entry Elegance cars as well it’s just too flat. Moreover, cruise along at 70mph and the tyres make quite the racket, although wind noise is kept to a minimum. And while we don’t talk about boot space often, owners of the old Civic may well notice a drop in capacity from around 470 litres to around 410.

Technology and Features


It’s impossible to say the Honda Civic is anything other than very well specced indeed, because so much of the car’s kit comes as standard, and there have been plenty of tech upgrades from 10th to 11th generation. Whichever new Civic you go for you’ll find a nine-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash, the tech within which is familiar but works better than before. But looking ahead of the steering wheel there’s a seven-inch display on the left and an analogue speedo on the right in Elegance and Sport cars, or a fully digital 10.2-inch instrument display in the Advance model. Whichever set-up you have, both are clear and work nicely. The entry-level Elegance car gets 18-inch wheels, while the Sport and Advance models get 19-inchers, though the latter’s are two-tone.

Elsewhere, adaptive cruise control, which works from a standstill, is standard, as is lane keep assist, LED lights with an auto-dip full beam (the top spec car will turn off individual LEDs individually so you still have some full beam coverage), two USBs up front and two in the rear, dual zone climate control, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a rear-view camera, and parking sensors front and rear. The new rear-view camera is a particular improvement, as the old one gave the distinct impression it was viewing the world through a potato. To keep you safe there are 11 air bags, cross traffic alert, four sonars at the front and four at the rear to detect obstacles sooner and more accurately, a 100-degree wide-angle camera at the front for the same reason, and the chip the processes all of this safety information is faster and can therefore take action sooner if something isn’t quite right.



I think Honda has played it a little safe with the new Civic, and part of that is surely down to the fact that this car is truly global now, where a decade or so ago there were different versions for different markets, giving the engineers and designers the opportunity to do something fun or creative. That being said it drives well – even though the powertrain here is only eight months newer than the HR-V’s, it makes that car’s mechanicals feel a little old. So, safe to look at and safe to drive it might be, but many of the Civic’s competitors serve up boring, uneventful driving experiences that don’t inspire at all. Against hybrid rivals, this is a really solid effort.



2.0-litre four-cylinder two-motor series hybrid


135PS (99kW)


186Nm (137lb ft)


Single-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive

Kerb weight



7.8-8.1 seconds

Top speed


Fuel economy


CO2 emissions


Price £29,595 - £32,595