2023 Honda Civic e:HEV - hybrid-only hatchback

2023 Honda Civic e:HEV - hybrid-only hatchback

Old dog, new tricks. Honda’s latest Civic loses its manual gearbox and goes hybrid.

Honda has quite a job on its hands with the new Civic, mostly because of the hatchback’s legacy. It’s been around since the 1970s – and almost all its predecessors have been great fun to drive.

But Honda has changed its formula for the 11th generation, scrapping its buzzy petrol engines and sharp manual gearboxes in favour of its e:HEV hybrid system. It promises to trim your fuel bills – but has it ruined the driving experience?

2023 Honda Civic e:HEV

The early signs look promising. The body is 22 per cent more rigid than the old car’s, meaning less flex when you hammer it around corners. Grip levels are also impressive thanks to the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres and wider rear track. Also, because the (non-plug-in) hybrid system’s battery pack is mounted under the rear seats, the chassis stays settled when you change direction quickly. Honda has balanced the front and rear of the new Civic well, with just enough forward bias to make the front end turn in keenly.

2023 Honda Civic e:HEV - hybrid-only hatchback

On silky smooth Spanish tarmac, the ride is sublime. When I take a wrong turn and find myself on something resembling a rally stage, the Civic’s suspension copes well. Honda’s e:HEV hybrid system mixes a 2.0-litre petrol engine with a pair of electric motors – and there’s no gearbox. Most of the time, the motors push the car along while the petrol engine simply generates electricity. That means the cabin’s very quiet. Floor the accelerator and the engine sends direct drive through a clutch to the front wheels. It works seamlessly and, unlike a CVT, the Civic’s engine sounds good when you thrash it. And it’s quick – it makes good use of 181bhp and 258lb ft of torque.

I’m not convinced by Honda’s gimmicky ‘simulated gearshift’ function, though. When the car’s running in Sport mode, there’s a piece of software that artificially dips the electric motor’s torque and the engine revs to make it feel like there’s a gearbox between powertrain and wheels.

2023 Honda Civic e:HEV - hybrid-only hatchback

It might fool you if you drive the Civic without being told about the tech first. But, surely, the biggest appeal of having a car that’s primarily powered by electric motors is that linear, gearless power delivery? I get that Honda is trying to make the Civic feel familiar to gently ease its customers into the new technology, but I can’t help but think the powertrain would have been more impressive if the motors were allowed to function in the same way as an EV.

2023 Honda Civic e:HEV - hybrid-only hatchback

The interior is up with the best in class. It’s trimmed with quality materials, it’s well organised and you get a lot of equipment, including a crisp 9.0-inch infotainment system and 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster. But then, it needs to be well equipped if Honda really does intend to fix the starting price at around £30,000 when it reaches the UK this summer, as insiders have told us. Is that too much, bearing in mind that this is the regular Civic and not the Type R? A key rival, the Toyota Corolla, starts around £26k, and you can get an entry Golf for just over £25k. The Civic is good enough to stand any comparison, but buyers may reject it out of hand if the price looks too high.

LUKE WILKINSON First verdictGood to drive, economical, well equipped and spacious, and most of the new tech works just fine ★★★★★

TECHNICAL DATA2023 Honda Civic e:HEV — hybrid-only hatchback

  • PRICE From £30,000 (est)
  • ON SALE Summer
  • POWERTRAIN 1.05kWh battery, 1993cc 16v four-cyl plus e-motor, front-wheel drive
  • MAX POWER 181bhp @ 6000rpm,
  • MAX TORQUE 258lb ft @ 4500rpm,
  • ACCELERATION 7.8sec 0-62mph,
  • MAX SPEED 112mph
  • WEIGHT 1533kg
  • EFFICIENCY 56.4-60.1mpg,
  • ECOLOGY CO2 108-114g/km


  • 1 minute Impressive materials and build quality, down to padded leather on the door pulls
  • 15 minutes Steering is quick and well weighted, but it could do with more feel
  • 25 minutes Honda’s ‘simulated gearchanges’ are just a gimmick
  • 55 minutes It’s quiet for a petrol car. There are no gears to thrash through, so it’s almost like driving an EV
  • 1 hour Far more engaging than the rival Corolla, and bodes well for the Type R

PLUS One of the best-driving hybrids; solid build quality; lots of standard equipment

MINUS Fake gearshifts; sunroof option robs rear headroom; it’ll be expensive

2023 Honda Civic e:HEV - hybrid-only hatchback

When I take a wrong turn on to something resembling a rally stage the suspension copes well

Whole new look inside, and no gearlever

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