The name is a tad confusing but the new Honda Civic e:HEV is a conventional petrol-electric hybrid that competes against cars such as the Toyota Corolla hybrid.
Launched here in September, 2022 it’s not the first Civic hybrid. The previous model was sold here from 2004 until 2016 when poor sales saw it dropped.
Civic e:HEV is the third mainstream Honda model to be offered with an electrified powertrain in the Australian market, following on from HR-V and Accord.
A fourth, the all-new ZR-V, will arrive here later this year.
In fact, Honda was one of the pioneers of hybrid vehicles in Australia when it launched its Insight three-door hatchback way back in 2001.
Competition from the cheaper five-door Toyota Prius saw the Insight drop out in 2004.
At the other end of the scale a hybrid version of the NSX supercar was also sold here.
What’s it cost?
Honda Australia is running a pretty tight ship at the moment and there are only three Civic variants, each distinctly different from the other.
As well as the e-HEV LX that we’re reviewing here, there’s a 1.5-litre petrol VTi-LX and the high-performance Type R.
Prices, they’re all driveaway, start at $47,200 for the VTi-LX, the e:HEV LX sells for $55,000 and the Type-R for $72,600.
By way of comparison the top-spec Corolla ZR Hybrid has a recommended retail price of $39,620.
The popularity of SUVs with their taller and squarer profiles has seen conventional sedan and hatchback styles become lower and sleeker to provide a point of difference between the two body types.
So it is with the current, 11th generation Civic which could almost be described as a hatchback/coupe crossover.
We love the look of the latest Civic. It’s neat and attractive without anything that could turn off the more conservative buyers that it has historically attracted.
It has quite a high front with a shallow upper grille and a much deeper lower grille. The front grille ties in with the lights and gives a wide look.
The lower grille is substantial and the black finish of the front of the car works nicely in our eyes.
The large Honda badge in the centre of the grille has a blue surround, indicating the car’s electric component as does the blue ‘EV’ on the number plate.
The roofline slopes neatly to the rear in a semi-fastback style and there’s a manually operated hatchback that opens high to give excellent access to the luggage area.
A powered panoramic sunroof is standard in the e:HEV LX.
Civic e-HEV LX uses a 9.0-inch touchscreen, relatively small in comparison with others, but importantly within easy reach of the driver and with fast response and sharp definition.
It has two shortcut buttons and an audio control knob to the right of the screen.
There’s embedded satellite navigation plus Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto (wired).
There are two USB-A ports and a 12V socket in the front console above a wireless smartphone charging pad.
Two more USB-A ports are located in the rear.
In front of the driver is a customisable 10.2-inch high-definition full colour digital information display that’s relatively easy to read and adjust to the driver’s preferences.
Audio comes courtesy of a 12-speaker Bose D41 premium sound system.
The e:HEV LX is the first Honda to get the company’s Honda Connect system that allows owners to access vehicle information through their smartphone.
There are both convenience and safety benefits.
With remote connectivity the climate control can be set up to heat or cool the car in advance, turn the lights on or off and lock or unlock with a single tap.
On the safety front there is an emergency call button to contact roadside assistance and, in more serious circumstances, automatic collision detection which alerts the Honda call centre and, where necessary, contacts emergency services.
Owners can also set a speed threshold that sends an alert to the phone when it is exceeded.
A vehicle status feature monitors a range of information.
Not sure how they all manage to fit them all into a relatively small car, but there are 11 airbags including knee airbags for the driver and front passenger, along with new side airbags for the rear seats and a new front centre airbag to help prevent the driver and front passenger making contact during a side impact.
Other standard safety features include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera with a choice of angles.
As with all Honda models the Civic e:HEV LX, comes with a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, five-year premium roadside assistance and five years of Honda Connect subscription.
What’s it go like?
We found getting into, and especially out of, the car quite challenging but that’s our fault for having creaking joints.
Younger, more supple, drivers won’t have any such problems.
The dashboard area is wide to give the Civic e:HEV LX a spacious feel.
There’s an eye-catching thin panel with honeycomb fill that spans the entire width of the dashboard on either side of the steering wheel.
It contains a number of toggles to adjust the direction of the air conditioning which, we’re pleased to say, uses three large circular knobs below the touchscreen to control temperature and power.
Regular readers will know the safety concerns that we have about the growing trend towards dashboard and touchscreen controls that require the driver to take their eyes off the road to operate them.
Those in the Civic hybrid are just about perfect, all within reach and easy to use.
The front seats are wide enough to cater for a good variety of rumps.
The three rear seats are set up to provide good comfort for the two window seat positions.
The centre-rear seat is better than average for this class but I wouldn’t like to travel there.
With two rear occupants there’s a fold-down armrest including a couple of drink holders.
Boot size is a reasonable 410 litres but note that there is no spare wheel, only a puncture repair kit.
New Civic hybrid combines a power-dense lithium-ion battery with two compact, powerful electric motors and a 105kW/186Nm 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine.
It’s a direct-injection system that’s optimised for faster and more efficient combustion and greater torque.
The result is a combined maximum output of 135kW of power and 315Nm of torque, the highest outputs ever offered on a Civic with the exception of the high-performance Type-R.
The eCVT continuously variable transmission operates by juggling the petrol and electric engines/motors.
Fuel consumption is listed at 4.2L/100km with CO2 emissions of 96g/km.