- We like...Smooth cruiser, futuristic cabin
- We don't...For us, it wasn't that economical
Clean-runner from Honda combines petrol and electric power. But its fuel economy is open to doubtThe Civic Hybrid. A family saloon which pumps so little pollution, that even tiny cars struggle to match its ultra-low emissions figures. A proper four-door with leather seats plus heaters, auto transmission as standard and satellite navigation. And one that, thanks to its petrol and electric motors, promises up to 61mpg overall.
It’s so clever that you’d thank Honda for sorting eco-motoring. But there are compromises. At town speeds and up to 50mph cruising it wafts along beautifully, smooth and near-silent on just a dab of throttle. As soon as you halt, it switches itself off to conserve fuel – so long as you keep your foot on the brakes. Remove your size nine and it restarts quickly, though there can be a nervy will it-won’t it moment at junctions before it moves off.
The deal is that it harnesses a 1.4 petrol motor (as fitted in the Jazz supermini) to an electric engine. The car relies on petrol for most of its oomph, chipping in with a jolt of volts when needed. When coasting or braking the electric motor ‘scavenges’ back power to store in its batteries, hidden behind the rear seats.
If you ask the Civic to shift suddenly, its 1.4 petrol engine moos a protest. It’s not a pretty noise, but it responds well enough - just. Once settled to a steady speed, hush returns, although there’s an odd whirr when braking, like that of a kitchen fridge cutting in.
The four-door body is unique to the Hybrid and it’s the only Civic sold here but made in Japan – Honda builds other Civic models in Swindon. The fact that the car crosses the globe before it sells may give eco-aware buyers cause to pause. But if it dsn’t, its looks are dull enough to put them off, although the cabin on our EX model has leather good enough to swathe a Jag and a double-decked dash so futuristic , we hunted for a built-in holster for our ray-guns. A series of bar graphs monitor battery charge, mpg and fuel, while the speed shows on a big digital read-out.
There’s reasonable space for five inside, although seating three adults across the rear is a pinch. The boot is fair sized but the rear seats won’t fold to extend it: they’re fixed in place. And the lid dsn’t work off the car’s remote locking, though it will open if you tug a lever on the floor by the driver, or else jab in the key and twist. Neither’s ideal when you’re juggling armfuls of groceries.
It’s an expensive car, if no dearer than its only like-for-like rival, the Toyota Prius. So whether you buy hinges on your need to be green, whether its ‘easy-ds-it’ driving style suits you and whether you trust Honda’s claim that it could average up to 61.4mpg.
For us its fuel consumption read-out stayed resolutely in the high-30s mpg over 100 miles driven chiefly over lightly-traffic, fast-flowing roads – just the conditions that should flatter fuel economy. It may be clean but – the way we see it – it isn’t necessarily that green.
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- 0-60 mph12.1sec
- Insurance groups7
Motors.co.uk value verdict: