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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 17th April 2006, 16:35 Thread Starter
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Civic - an informed review

Basegreen,you should be able to do a brochure with all the cars you have had in the last few weeks.

What about doing a piece giving your pro's and con's of all the cars you have driven (Civic's)
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 17th April 2006, 16:47
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A review I wrote after a month or so of owning the Civic.

So, I’ve been driving around in a new 2006 Honda Civic for around a month now, and thought it was about time I committed my thoughts to paper. Despite the problems I have had with Honda customer service, and with my faulty 1.8SE, I remain very happy with the Civic, and am pleased I took the plunge back in February. One of the advantages of having issues with my own vehicle has been the opportunity to drive three different models of the new Civic.
Having passed my driving test around a year ago, I have gone from driving a 1996 Vauxhall Corsa LS to the 1.8 i-VTEC SE. Wow….what a difference! Power, poise, speed, practicality and comfort are all there in abundance. I’ve also had a significant amount of time driving the i-VTEC 1.8 ES, and the 2.2i-CDTi Diesel Sport.

Interior

I was taken aback by the look of the dash - everyone who has stepped into the drivers seat has said the word “spaceship”. I think that’s a good thing, and I can honestly say that every single car I have been in since just looks like somewhere you would go to curl up and die - Grey Plastic Hell. The Civic sparkles particularly in comparison to the ‘new’ VW Golf and Jetta. Others have a lot to learn here, and I am certain we’ll see many rival manufacturers striving for this sort of look in their future model releases. The goalposts have moved, without a doubt.

The multi-layered feel of the rev-counter and dials, just looks superb, particularly at night. The subtle combination of the blue LED footwell lighting on the ES (and above) somehow manages to look good; never feeling “Max Power”. The cost of the lighting as an additional option is pretty outrageous though, for what is surely a few LEDs and some wiring. A real highlight here is the trip computer, which is fairly easy to use, and has plenty of options, the most useful of which being real-time fuel consumption graph. I suspect the audible speed alarms will save fellow drivers a few pounds and points over the lifetime of the car. The pseudo-head-up-display positioning of the digital speedometer is inspired design, and truly makes a big difference. There’s no need to look down at the dials, the driver’s eyes can stay on the road where they should be. I will go as far to say I will simply never buy another car in future without this feature.Top marks in this area - it was definitely one of the selling points for me.

The stereo seems reliable and the standard fit speakers are good and do not tend to rattle or vibrate unless extremely taxing music is played through them. 5 minutes of Sigur Rós’ debut album “Ágætis Byrjun” was too much to bear, due to its heavy basslines and wide-ranging sounds; stick to less intensive work and the results are great. The additional BassWorks kit should see to these sorts of issues if necessary. The ability to play MP3/WMA CDs has made a big difference to the usability of the stereo, but doesn’t quite make up for the lack of an iPod connector. This could be as simple as bringing a 3.5mm socket out to the dash, and seems something of a surprising oversight on Honda’s part. It’s also not going to be very easy to replace the radio, due to its very “built-in” design. Great usability though, there’s scant need to read the User Guide to figure out how to use the various functions.

On the ES model, the panoramic sunroof seems a little pointless. It reduces the precious headroom significantly, and although it does improve the daylight within the cabin, I rather suspect the solar effect would make things too warm in Summer. Definitely something I can live without.

One of the main things I did not fully appreciate about the Civic on the test drive was the flexibility of the seating. Everything from the minute adjustments one can make in the front seats to the ever-useful rake and reach settings for the steering wheel feels like the design team has spent a lot of time thinking about the occupants. The Civic is a car where people feel welcome, and are able to get comfortable. The incredible space the rear seats can create, either in flip up, or flip down mode is extremely handy, and can give the car an almost Estate feel when it comes to fitting large loads in the rear. Honda have made the Civic somewhere fun to be, and that in itself is a great engineering achievement. If one was being picky, the lovely fabrics could be a little too lovely for heavy family use, and I fear for the door-side raised bucket-seat edging over time. I can see it getting flattened out from getting in and out of the vehicle. Time will tell, of course. That said, this car is very comfortable and flexible, and leads the way at this point.

One slight criticism of the controls is that it is reasonably easy to accidentally catch the light settings on the steering wheel stalk when indicating, and the function of lightly applying the indicator to produce 3 signal blinks for lane changes is more difficult that it ought to be.

Rear visibility isn’t fantastic, but my initial fears of not being able to park correctly, and not being able to see cars behind due to the split-rear window have been allayed by a slightly adjusted observation technique, and greater use of the very large wing mirrors. Parking sensors are a sensible addition, in my view.

In summary, Honda have produced a very professional, clean, bright and ultra modern interior. Mixing style with function (two things that are seldom bedfellows), they have created a place where it is enjoyable to spend time. Information is in the places it needs to be, leaving the driver to get on with the task of driving. Sounds simple, but it’s something apparantly lost on other marques.

Performance and Handling

My original intention was to purchase the 1.4 SE, but I was offered a test drive in the 1.8 i-VTEC, and decided I would give it a try. Despite being determined not to fall for the dealer up-sell tactics, there was no way I could consider getting the 1.4 once I had tried a VTEC for the first time. Refined and deliberate at lower revs, outrageous and raucous at higher revs, the petrol engine just sounds and feels right for the car. Whilst lacking a little bit of something at these lower rev levels, the trade-off here is great fuel economy. It drives how you want to drive, which is a stunning achievement for a car at this price level. The power and the urgency is there when needed, rather than being there all the time as with the Diesel variant. If Microsoft came up with a slogan for the 1.8, it would certainly be “How do you want to drive today?”.

Other reviews have had reservations about the 1.8i engine, citing the need for high-revving to get anything like the performance of the 2.2 Diesel engine. It is a different style of driving, and in a fuel conscious world we are in, getting the choice between grunt and grace is worth having. But what of the Diesel?

The 2.2 diesel model feels like it has much more torque at lower revs. Once the turbo kicks in, this car absolutely flies. The Vehicle Stability Assistance aids grip on corners extremely well, and the dash from 20-40 is supremely fast. Only the short 1st gear is a minor disappointment - go beyond 20mph in first, and the REV indicator will start lighting up its angry orange lights. The turbo is almost addictive, and if you’re looking to get the excellent economy figures listed, you’ll need to temper the right foot somewhat. With some fast starts and quick bends, I’ve been getting around 48mpg from the diesel, and around 35mpg from the petrol on a combined cycle. This should improve a little over time.

Being objective, the Diesel feels like the better engine, particularly when one considers the better economy, but this is offset by a whopping £1,500 additional cost. Both engines develop 140PS, so it is really down to personal taste, and mileage.

The suspension is fairly stiff, but over time I have realised that’s a good thing with the power available - the steering, handling and quick engines combine well for a sporty, urgent ride that always feels safe.

Exterior

Will it date? I doubt it. You can tell how nice a car looks from the reactions of other drivers and pedestrians as you drive around. Admittedly, this is a new model, and that will always attract attention, but everyone wants to have a look at the new Civic. From its 3-door look and feel, to the innovative split rear window, there are touches of class and modernity everywhere. The triangular exhaust outlets give the car an agressive look from behind, and the wide snarl of the front clear plastic trim is breathtaking compared to the dullness that surrounds recent model releases. The reflective, protruding light clusters work well with the triangular theme.

On the negative side - the ommision of a rear wiper probably owes more to style than it does to practicality. Claims of water running off, and hydrophobic coatings are lost on me. I’ve driven this car in heavy rain, drizzle, sleet and snow already, and I’ve found that water does indeed remain on the rear glass surfaces at all speeds. Using the rear demister button does mitigate some of these problems. The lower glass panel also tends to frost, which is strange given the apparant chemical coating that is meant to be there to stop such things happening. With summer fast approaching, I’ll certainly overlook that for the time being.

There have been a few reports of problems with the fuel cap sticking, although I have not seen this in the four different vehicles I have driven so far. The footwell mounted release seems a little mechanical for a car so filled with electronic wonderment. The HID headlights on the Sport model work very well, and the folding wing mirrors sported by the ES and EX models are a welcome addition, and are something I’ll miss on the SE.

Automatic lights and wipers seemed to perform well, compared to other systems I have seen working on the Skoda Octavia, Renault Megane etc. Plenty of scope for adjustment on the non-automatic versions as well, including a variable intermittent setting.

Summary

As a package, the 2006 Civic is a remarkable car. In its journey from concept car to production car, very little has changed. Honda really have rewritten the rule book in many areas, standards have been set; surely followed by a shift in rival designs and specifications. At this price point, the only serious rival would be the Skoda Octavia at a high trim level, or the BMW 1 Series. Neither of which are similar to the new Civic. It stands pretty much on its own at this time.

Adding in the promise of above-average residuals, the Civic is superb and would be hard for any new car buyer to ignore.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 9th May 2006, 14:51
 
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I forgot to mention, I was Falmouth on the other site
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Thanks Kpow99.

Nice to be here.
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Just like meeting old friends really.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 17th May 2006, 14:40
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Great review, I would echo your thoughts. It is amazing the reaction you get from people in the street in car parks and traffic jams, I never had people mouth the words "nice car mate" as I drove past in my Laguna, or even had people hang out of vans in traffic jams and tell you how good it looks...... mind you Milano Red is the only colour for the Civic! And with the addition of the City Pack it almost looks like horns on the front bumper.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 16th September 2006, 04:21
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Good review nice to see so many good reviews , what problems did u have with honda customer service ?
Did u fell they tryed to sort then out asap for you ?
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 7th October 2006, 12:01
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Having taken delivery of my 1.8 i-Vtect Sport a couple of days ago, I've since covered just over 450km on a combination of smooth motorways, varying quality A roads and poorly maintained, potholed B roads.

My first impressions of the car are as follows:

Driving Position

No qualms here. Being 5ft 9" I found it extremely easy to find a comfortable place at the helm of the Civic (doing so in less than a minute). What's more, both front seat headrests adjust up and down very easily, whilst the offset handbrake lever (which allows for a useful central stowage area) falls easily to hand.

Dashboard Controls

Perhaps flightdeck is a more accurate way of describing the Civic's dashboard layout. Intuitively laid out and a joy to behold, the two-tier design allows for an easy visual switch between speedometer and rev counter. And, whilst initially I thought the multi-function display (placed centrally within the rev counter) to be rather over designed, it's actually easy to grasp all of the information shown, particularly when flicking through each display with the steering wheel mounted "info" button.

As for the steering wheel itself, JC was spot on when he said "Examine, if you will, exhibit A, the steering wheel. It is fashioned from at least three separate parts and has all sorts of buttons on it for the cruise control and stereo. So how much do you think it costs Honda to make it? I have no idea, but I bet a wheel like this is three times more expensive than the wheel on a Ford Focus or VW Golf".

Aside from the dinky dimensions of the wheel itself (which only adds to the Civic's sporty feel) it's good to the touch, with the radio/CD, cruise control and info display buttons all having a solid, tactile, quality feel. My only grumble here is with the fan control buttons being slightly obscured and fiddly to use when switching between modes i.e. air to face, air to legs etc.

Of course, the "boiled sweet" engine start button (and indeed the similarly coloured warning triangle button), help make the Civic feel even more special than its rivals, though upon closer inspection the lack of soft-touch plastics becomes evident.

That said, once you turn the key and you're greeted by the glorious blue backlit displays, then you realise how much trouble Honda went to in designing the Civic's driving environment. And, without a shadow of a doubt, it's a big success!

On the Road

I think Basegreen summed the i-Vtec engine up well when he concluded it was a case of "how would you like to drive today?". Under normal city driving conditions, the engine and gearbox pair well, with gearing that allows the i-Vtec to go about it's business in a restrained, docile fashion (even though a quick glance at the speedo will show you that it's no slouch on the road).

Shod with 17" alloys, the Civic is a supreme motorway cruiser at the legal limit. But at higher speeds on European roads (where allowed), the drone from the i-Vtec starts to be become tiresome (at over 4,000 rpm in 6th). So, even though Honda's i-Vtec engines are world renowned for their high revving nature, I'd be inclined to treat this latest incarnation as a relaxed cruiser rather than an out and out barnstormer.

On very smoothly surfaced, slightly rutted roads (i.e. Budapest's city streets which are less well-textured/grippy than most British roads), I've found that the Civic has a disconcerting tendency to feel as if it's tramlining. Having come from a Jazz SE sport in which there was a good deal of positive road feedback, this is one aspect of the Civic's overall performance that I'm so far disappointed with. I would summarise it as being skittish under such conditions, although more textured road surfaces allow for the Civic's accomplished driving manners to shine through. Certainly traction is very good, allowing the car to quickly and surefootedly sweep through bends.

When I first test drove the Civic, my biggest worry was the lack of rear visibility. Now, however, having put a few miles on the clock, I can honestly say that it's really not bad at all. Certainly, the oversized wing mirrors help matters significantly, but it's still not the terrible view that What Car described. And, at night the rear lip spoiler deals brilliantly with Hungarian tailgaters!

Quality Overall

Aside from the dreaded fuel flap gremlin making an an appearance at first fill-up, build quality seems very good on my Civic. Panel gaps and shut lines are spot on, while the paint finish is also good. I do have some concerns about the height from which you have to "drop" the bonnet upon closing (bearing in mind the rubbing paint, spacer issue), whilst the black upholstery fabric, particularly on the door trims, doesn't seem that durable. No squeaks or rattles as yet, so that's a good sign too!

A Couple of Things I've Noticed

In operation, the CD head unit makes discs become very hot, with my wife commenting "I thought it was just supposed to play them, not toast them too!". I tend to agree, with the expectation that my CD collection will be turned into a Daliesque work sometime within the next fortnight. Has anyone else found this to be true?

2nd to 3rd sometimes feels quite notchy. Perhaps it's my imagination but the quality of the change seems to worsen after a few hours on the road. By no means bad, but not as slick as my old Jazz between those gears. The rest of the six speeder though is faultless!

At night, the reflection from the rev counter/radio display onto the windscreen is quite annoying. Cured obviously by turning down the illumination level from it's brightest setting, but a problem which surprised me initially.

Sound quality from the standard speakers isn't bad at all, providing you tone down the treble from the fronts and let the rears do a bit more work. For an audiophile, it's never going to rock your boat, but for us mere mortals it's good enough!

In Conclusion

4/5 overall. I tend to disagree with the view that its a triumph of style over substance. Yes, there are failings with the new Civic, but once you press that big red starter button all is forgiven! Moreover, long term, providing the car can live up to the traditional high standards associated with Honda, then I'll be a happy bunny.

For sure, the Focus drives slightly better, but it's oh so dreary to look at, the Golf is too expensive by far and offerings from the likes of Peugeot, Citroen, Vauxhall and Toyota seem dull by comparison. All told, it's almost impossible not to like the Civic and its idiosincracies. This car is a seriously addictive driving machine!

P.S. Will post gallery pics soon, once I've cleaned the mud off me tyres (looking like a tractor at the mo).

Thank you for listening

Last edited by jayt43; 7th October 2006 at 12:32.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 10th October 2006, 06:40
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Very good review Jayt43 all these postive review are making more and more impasionted for my star ship to land
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 27th March 2007, 17:37
 
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Speed alarms

You mentioned audible speed alarms from the trip computer in your review, does this come as standard in all 1.8 and 2.2 D civics? anyone from central europe or finland that can report this being true?

my dealer didnt tell me nothing about that kind of function and very hard to find info on that, as i am still waiting for my car and dont have a users manual yet...
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 28th March 2007, 17:20
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I enjoyed reading both the reviews very much, loved the attention to detail! Thanks very mich for posting them, makes me look forward even more to receiving my Civic in June!
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 28th March 2007, 18:39
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Great reviews guys thanks

Finding it difficult to stop reading ANYTHING to do with civic's now I'm really trying to distance myself, spoke to my dealer today and he said he might be able to push things through sooner but I think he just said that cos I sounded like a hyper kid on acid on the phone. I am counting the hours though (845 hrs to go! see I really am!)
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 28th March 2007, 19:50
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What are your thoughts now BG with nearly a year passing since your initial review?
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 29th March 2007, 10:15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koolaid View Post
You mentioned audible speed alarms from the trip computer in your review, does this come as standard in all 1.8 and 2.2 D civics? anyone from central europe or finland that can report this being true?

my dealer didnt tell me nothing about that kind of function and very hard to find info on that, as i am still waiting for my car and dont have a users manual yet...

Yes, the car does have speed alarms. You can set two of them and they will beep for a while if you go faster.

It's all in the manual, you see.

Ask your dealer for a manual before you get your car. They should have them at the dealership.



re: cz's request

x2 It would be interesting to read how you feel about it all now. How has your car been to live with?
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 29th March 2007, 11:12
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Re CZ Request

Count me also.

Yes, BG as you are one of the first owner and member, with a talented writing, I hope you will accept our request.
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