Honda Civic eHEV - long term review - Report No:5 2023 | Top Gear
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Long-term review

Honda Civic eHEV - long term review

£32,995 / £33,820 as tested / £410 per month
Published: 13 Mar 2023

Is the Honda Civic a desirable car that’d tempt you away from an SUV?

Has the Honda Civic ever been a car you wanted rather than needed?

Let’s unpack that. Born into the world of the 1973 Oil Crisis, the Civic began life as a small car that appealed to Seventies buyers because it was efficient at a time when the world needed efficiency. It was reliable at a time when the world needed something dependable. And it was also affordable, at a time of increasing financial strain.

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Seeing any parallels? The Civic has of course grown up through the years, seemingly going through its rebellious ‘awkward teenager’ phase right before landing on where we are today, but its core of efficiency, reliability and affordability haven’t really changed. But those things aren’t traditionally features that’ll raise your blood pressure (quite the opposite, actually).

What has changed for this new generation is its appearance. It is noticeably more conservative than the car that immediately preceded it and so more aligned with its predecessors (barring a couple of wayward generations). Yet it doesn’t fade into the background like those earlier cars did.

Yes, it’s not as shouty as that GiantGenericSUV the neighbours have got but look more closely and there’s a very appealing cleanliness to its aesthetic. It’s a good-looking car, this. One of the most handsome normcore hatchbacks on sale today, in fact. Go on, look at a BMW 1 Series or Ford Focus and tell us this Civic isn’t pretty.

One question continually put to car designers is whether today’s designs need to be less ‘aggressive’ to reflect the world around us. Overwhelmingly the answer from these designers has been ‘yes’, and so like the first car and very unlike the tenth car, perhaps this new Civic has arrived at a time when buyers are looking for something a little less… thrusting.

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Though if it’s thrusting you want, the Type R’s got you covered. Look at them side-by-side, and you’ll see the jump in aesthetics isn’t the chasm it used to be, because the fundamentals are fairly spot on.

Perhaps something unexpected has happened with the Honda Civic. Now it’s calming to look at, relaxing to sit it and chilled to drive, perhaps it’s finally become a car you might want, rather than one you just need.

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