When I first mentioned that I’d be getting a Civic Saloon, my wife’s first reaction was “they make a saloon version?” It’s a fair question, as the market for saloon cars in the UK has collapsed, and it was never that strong anyway. Honda certainly won’t need many fingers to count how many of the Civic Saloons will be sold in the UK.
But I’m a sucker for a sedan though; my first car was a Sierra Sapphire, and I’ve owned more saloons over the years than I have hatchbacks, estates, SUVs or whatever else. The Civic is no three-box design though, as the roof slopes away into the rear window, itself raked steeply until it merges with the bootlid. At a glance you’d probably assume it’s a hatchback, but that rear window stays firmly attached to the rest of the car.
It looks more sophisticated than the hatchback and attracts more attention when parked up. Granted, that attention may be of the ‘what is it?’ variety, but at least people are looking. That’s something that doesn’t happen often with the hatchback, unless it’s the Type R.
Sleek looks don’t mask the fact that the Civic Saloon is a surprisingly large car. At 4,648mms long, it’s only 61mm shorter than the new BMW 3 Series, and a massive 395mms longer than a Peugeot 308. The obvious benefit there is interior room, where there’s acres of space for passengers in both the front and rear, although the headroom looks a little tight in the back. That boot is also a decent size, taking in 519 litres of luggage, up from the hatchback’s 478. Folding rear seats promise a bit of extra practicality as well, something I’ll investigate in later months as I get to know the car.
There aren’t many better ways of getting to the nitty gritty of a car than taking it on a road trip so, just 12 hours after ‘my’ new Honda Civic Saloon was delivered, I set off to the wilds of Scotland. With just 118bhp available from the 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine, it could have been a long slog, but the Civic has always performed better than the figures suggest, and the Saloon is no different. Dashing from 0-62mph doesn’t show off its natural strengths, but the refinement and economy once up to cruising speed demonstrates that Honda’s engineers were focusing on more important areas.
Economy figures are also impressive, with the computer showing 52.1mpg after the 710-mile journey. Still, that’s lower than I might have expected from a diesel-powered Civic, which could be down to the engine not being run in properly yet, or the nine-speed automatic gearbox sapping power. Yes, nine speeds!
It also feels solid, built with typical Japanese attention to longevity rather than perceived higher quality materials. Not that there’s too much plastic on this EX model, as the dashboard is stocked with soft-touch materials and the swathe of shiny plastic across the dashboard actually blends in well with the design, but it’s not got the tactile surfaces that some competitors have.
It does have exclusivity though – when was the last time you saw a Honda Civic Saloon? That alone adds an extra half a star for me, although it’ll have to do more than just be a rarity to justify the £500 price premium over the hatchback model.
Date arrived 6th July 2019
Fuel economy 54.3mpg On Test 52.1mpg
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are fitted as standard, so you can avoid Honda’s own infotainment system.
The USB port to plug a smartphone in and use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay is in the least obvious place you could imagine.