Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 88%

View more pics of the Honda Civic Type-S

The Honda Civic turns its back at conventionality with its concept car design and family hatchback pricing.

And with the Civic Type-S diesel, Honda has combined sensational looks, impressive performance and superb fuel economy.

Has Honda built the ultimate all-round hatchback? We borrowed one for a week to find out.

1. Looks 10/10

The Honda Civic could hold its own on a supercar forecourt with its dynamic design. The front is dominated by a lighting panel which stretches right across the front of the car acting as a barrier between the bonnet and the bumper, while the huge mesh grille beneath the front number plate adds to the Civic’s aggression. It gets 17-inch, five spoke alloys, side skirts and funky door handles with 18s as an option. The rear is just as provocative with a spoiler stretching across the middle of the window, while the unique twin-triangular tailpipes wouldn’t look out of place on a sci-fi space ship. It’s love-it-or-hate-it design at its best.

2. Looks inside 10/10

Convention is defied with the interior as well as the exterior. The driver gets a huge blue-glowing rev-counter and spaceship-like sports steering wheel (which has audio and cruise control switches on it) and a big red start button. But stealing the limelight from the rev-counter is the digital speedo, which is mounted just beneath the windscreen. The CD player is plain-looking in comparison to the rest of the Civic but is competent and simple to use. Chrome-plated foot pedals add another element of sportiness, while the dash consists of hard-wearing dark plastics.

3. Practicality 8/10

The Type S is only available as a three-door which may put people with families off. But it doesn’t mean it’s cramped out back, with the Civic comfortably seating two adults. The boot is a massive 485 litres (Ford Focus is 385 litres and Volkswagen Golf 420 litres). But visibility is dampened by the large spoiler which reduces rear vision.

4. Ride and Handling 8/10

The Honda Civic Type-S has been fitted with a unique suspension from the rest of the range. It has revised spring and damper settings to give a sportier performance. On corners there is a bit of roll but nothing to cause you to fall out of your seats. The suspension is a good combination between stiff and soft which makes the Type-S a good all-round car capable of long and short journeys. And to increase stability, the distance between the wheels is 20mm more at the rear giving the Civic a planted feel.

5. Performance 8/10

The Civic Type-S we drove is powered by a 2.2-litre turbodiesel producing 138bhp and 251lb/ft of pulling power. This accelerates it from 0-62mph (100kph) in 8.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 127mph. It doesn’t yell performance but when the optimum pull comes into play at 2,000rpm you really feel the car move. Power is channelled through a smooth six-speed gearbox, while buyers can opt for a paddle-shift ‘box. The other engine in the Type-S range is the 1.8-litre petrol which has an identical top speed, but hits 62mph in a slightly slower 8.9 seconds. Its performance can’t match its hot hatch looks but it beats the equivalently specced Ford Focus.

6. Running Costs 9/10

For a 2.2-litre turbodiesel, the Honda Civic Type-S is incredibly cheap to run. It manages a combined 54.3mpg, while emitting just 138g/km of carbon dioxide. These emissions place it in tax band C, meaning an annual bill of £115. Again, these figures are sufficiently more impressive than the equivalent Ford Focus. Insurance group ten shouldn’t burn too much of a hole in your pocket unless you’re under 21. And to keep the Type-S running smoothly you’ll need to fork out for a service every 12,500 miles. The petrol model manages a combined 42.8mpg and emits 156g/km of carbon dioxide equalling £140 a year for road tax.

7. Reliability 9/10

Hondas are renowned for their reliability, with the Japanese car make ranked the third best in the UK market. The diesel used in the Civic is the first in Honda’s history and after debuting in the Accord in 2004, it has built on the Japanese car maker’s reputation for bullet-proof engines. The interior plastics felt durable, while if anything does go wrong you’re covered by a three year/90,000 mile warranty.

8. Safety 8/10

Unlike rivals such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, the Honda Civic only received four stars in the EuroNCAP crash test programme.  But it is still well equipped with safety features including electronic brake distribution, vehicle stability assist and four airbags.

9. Equipment 8/10

The entry level Type-S boasts automatic air-conditioning, CD player and a 14-litre cooled glovebox which Honda describes as large enough to ‘lose a small mammal in.’ The trip computer housed within the rev counter also shows the normal mpg figures and average speed and whether the passengers sat in the rear are wearing seatbelts. Upgrade to the GT spec and you get a panoramic glass roof, cruise control, fog lights, automatic lights and wipers and folding door mirrors. Optional extras include sat-nav, Bluetooth capability and 18-inch alloys.

10. X-Factor 10/10

The Honda Civic Type-S Diesel is a brilliant car and a breakthrough in modern automotive design – it’s even slashed the average age of a Civic driver by ten years to 41. And with hot hatch looks, nippy performance, diesel efficiency, Ford Focus pricing and Japanese reliability, Honda has hit the nail on the head and built arguably one of THE best all-round hatchbacks.

Key Facts

Model tested: Honda Civic Type S 2.2i-CDTi
On the road price: £17,550
Price range: £14,027 – £18,627
Date tested: September 2007
Road tester: Adrian Hearn