Ford used to make a saloon version of the Focus, known to many as the Ford Fogey, thanks to the softened ride that was designed to appeal to a more mature audience. Honda’s done exactly the same with the Civic, producing a car that’s a little more comfortable and refined. It’s fair to say that the Civic Saloon has lost some of its sharpness, but it’s not been turned into a wallowy sedan. Turn into a corner and there’s just a little hesitation as the body rolls just a little more than the hatchback version. Then, mid-corner, there’s a sensation that it’s just not quite as precise. The flip side is that it’s less affected by surface changes in bends, remaining more stable as it absorbs the undulations faced on the UK’s roads.
The changes downgrade the Civic’s handling from ‘engaging’ to ‘competent’ but, in fairness, that’s probably what most buyers are looking for. On-the-limit adjustability and lift-off oversteer are the preserve of the foolhardy, the inexperienced, and motoring journalists. Softening the suspension has led to, as you would expect, improved ride quality. Those constant surface cracks, changes and joints are dealt with nicely, and the longer frequency undulations along main roads are almost imperceptible. The Civic Saloon hasn’t yet been flustered by an unfortunately timed series of bumps, which bodes well.
Refinement is also aided by a nine-speed automatic gearbox, which has five more gears than my old Corvette has. Still, cruising along in ninth means low engine speeds and little engine noise, but the downside is that the car changes gear for everything. Increasing speed from 65 to 68mph is accompanied by a shift down a gear or two. Going up a slight incline? That needs a different ratio. Leaving my house and travelling the 400 metres to the high street? Amazingly, thanks to multiple speed bumps, that takes 18 gear changes.
What won’t take getting used to is the cabin itself, and the equipment within. There’s the usual Honda infotainment system, which means it’s dreadful and immediately ignored in favour of Android Auto. I might be brave and try it out one day, but I’ve been scarred enough by the unfathomably unintuitive menu system and screen options. Still, there’s DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation (if I wasn’t using Google’s own) and a reversing camera all operated through the screen, as well as a few other bits and pieces.
Automatic headlights and wipers seem to react reasonably well, and there’s endless safety equipment. Automatic emergency braking promises to keep me away from the back of a stationary car and, so far, there’s been no false alarms that have seen the car slam itself to a halt when there’s nothing ahead. Adaptive cruise control looks after the speed all the way down to a standstill, which makes motorway driving relaxing, while lane keeping assist and blind spot warning join other systems to make the Civic Saloon feel as safe as can be.
Date arrived 6th July 2019
Fuel economy 54.3mpg On Test 49.4mpg
As the raked bootlid disappears from view, the reversing camera is handy, and it’s a particularly clear camera and screen.
There’s no handle inside the boot lid to slam it shut, so you’ve got to get your hands dirty and use the metalwork.