The Honda Civic has always been a more interesting choice for buyers in the Focus-sized family hatchback segment. Over five decades and ten distinct generations, Honda has refined its approach with this model, perfecting a design and engineering-led package that tends to encourage brand loyalty. Conquest customers though, have been harder for this Japanese maker to attract over recent model generations, hence the fundamental changes made to the MK10 Civic in 2016 that transformed its styling, its safety sophistication and, most importantly, the mainstream petrol engines beneath the bonnet. As a result, this under-rated British-built contender was hugely improved in tenth generation guise and could represent a surprisingly attractive package for the right kind of buyer.
Honda is a bit different from your average automotive maker. But being different doesn't always put you in a very profitable place. Take this car, the Honda Civic. For years now, this model line has offered something unique in the family hatchback segment. But done so with too many drawbacks to sell in the sort of numbers the Japanese maker needs to see. In 2016, we were told that this completely re-designed tenth generation version dealt with this model line's previous issues - while remaining distinctively Honda.
Compact, versatile models of this kind have always been closest to the heart of company founder Soichiro Honda. Back in the Sixties when the best the motor industry could offer a small family was something like a lumbering Morris Oxford, it was he who pioneered the idea of a compact fuel and space-efficient family car with a hi-tech air-cooled flat-four 1300cc engine. It was thinking that led to the launch of the original Civic in 1972, a model series that over the next forty years would go on to sell over 20 million cars around the world, over 650,000 of them in the UK.
Throughout those decades, there have been so many reasons why people like us have wanted to recommend the Civic. The most recent versions we'd seen prior to this MK10 model - the eight generation design of 2006 and the replacement ninth generation model of 2011 - both offered distinctive styling, sporty engines, a wonderfully slick gearbox, clever 'magic seating' practicality and a unique driver-centric dash. If only the ride, refinement, cabin quality and running costs had been better. If only the lifeless power steering hadn't disguised the responsive handling. If only the pricing had been a bit more competitive. You can't afford 'if onlys' the way the Focus-class segment is at present and in 2016 with this tenth generation design, Honda knew it had to do better.
So, the company set out on an enormous development programme, a seven year project that saw the creation of this tenth generation Civic take up more time, effort and money than any other model in Honda's history. Apart from the engines used in the Type-R hot hatch and the diesel variants (which everyone liked anyway), absolutely everything else about this car was completely new, starting with a bigger platform that made this a larger car and offered up the chance for a completely fresh exterior look. That styling's slightly controversial, but everyone agreed the re-designed cabin, the sophisticated rear multi-link suspension and the down-sized 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo engines to be a big step forward. The i-DTEC diesel engine was introduced in 2018. A four-door saloon variant was also introduced in 2018 and offered with the 1.0-litre petrol and 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine. The original version of this MK10 model sold until the end of 2019, when it was replaced by a lightly facelifted version. It's that original 2016-2019 model we look at here as a potential used buy.