Well I've had the Civic a few days short of six months now, and covered 3300 miles, so its about time for a report on how its going.
Firstly, what I like about the Civic.
Its not as slow as you may have been led to believe. (A controversial statement I know!) I have had much larger engined cars in the past, and I don't find it too slow at all. The i-Shift is well suited to the i-DSI engine, and gets the most out of it. I'm averaging between 45 - 48mpg to the gallon over a full tank, with plenty of town driving mixed in with longer runs. I can get more than 100 miles to a tank than I could in my last gen Civic, which had the same size fuel tank, and I always fill up with a gallon of petrol still in the tank. A pretty good result on economy!
One of the best designs that I've come accross in any car, the remote controls for the computer and stereo are easy to use and in just the right place. The i-Shift paddles are also very well placed. Its a nice wheel to hold, and comfortable on long journeys, even without the leather trim that used to be on the last gen 1.4 SE. Its also nice and light, its easy for me to drive with just one hand, and there's a good range of reach and rake adjustment too. (I keep mine as low as possible)
Utterly superb, I'm loving it! I use it mainly in the Auto mode with some paddle shifts as well. No problems with reverse or with the time the i-Shift makes up its mind to change gear. It is not at all hesitant, and changes very smoothly indeed. In fact, I cannot always tell when its decided to change gear, in this respect it feels like a fully automatic gearbox. The kickdown function works well too, the alternative is a quick flick on the '-' paddle, either way its very responsive. Its not caught me out yet, and even at roundabouts its fine, there's no hesitancy when you suddenly want more power. Overall, its a very easy system to use in either mode, the only thing for me that feels strange is using the shift lever in manual mode, I find the paddles more effective and somehow more natural and instinctive to operate.
This is very easy to use, again one of the best I've come across. It has a useful array of features, and displays the information clearly. There are a few oddities, like the range feature saying 'zero miles left', when I've still got a gallon in the tank! Still at least there's plenty of fuel in reserve, so I can't run dry. The speed warning feature is very useful too, especially when driving somewhere new, it just helps to make you a little more aware of your speed. I have the speeds set to '30' and '40', very handy when you've driven at 70mph on the motorway and are suddenly in a 30mph limit when you've turned off. Its also handy to be able to change the settings in the sub menu, you can tailor the display more to want you want to see.
Boot & Storage:
- The boot is positively enormous! Who needs an estate when you have the magic seats too? The false floor in the boot is very useful, as is the storage under the driver's armrest. I haven't run out of space yet! The air-conditioned glovebox is another handy feature. There is much more space than you think possible, its a Tardis type interior, and better than alot of cars in the class above.
- For the bottom end of the scale in the Civic range, the level of equipment is very good. Years ago you wouldn't have got half of what's on offer, even on top of the range cars.
- Very simple to use and the display is nice and clear. WMA/MP3 playback is a real plus, no need for piles of CD's in the car. The remote controls also work nicely too.
- In a word, amazing! I love the grill arrangement at the front, and this different styling has led to many people complimenting it. I do find the rear of the car a little fussy though, but the rear spoiler is useful for blocking glare from following car's headlights at night. Even though I have no alloys, only the cheap standard wheelcovers, the Civic turns heads wherever it goes. (Although I'm sure that new grill will turn stomachs instead!) Inside is even more amazing, its like no other car on the road. The rev counter display looks fantastic, and the whole dashboard is a very refreshing and bold design. Other car's interiors seem very old fashioned indeed.
Seats & Comfort:
- I do struggle to get comfortable in a new car, but I'm now ok in the Civic. The seats are fine once you're used to them, and the driver's armrest is set at the right height for me too. Along with the steering wheel adjustment, its very easy to find a nice driving position, even though this can block the top of the rev counter from view.
Now the things I don't like.
- Where on earth do I begin! I'm losing count of how many rattles I now have but its in double figures now. The dashboard, windscreen, doors, glovebox and other items all let you know they're there! It seems that the Civic cannot cope with anything other than a billiard table smooth road, without throwing a tantrum and rattling at every opportunity. I have had some rattles looked at by the dealer, but there is way more work to be done on this problem. If like me, you cannot stand a rattling car, you may find yourself going elsewhere. (Or playing the stereo loudly) Honda may feel that they can rest on their laurels with their reputation for quality, but its slipped big time on this generation of Civic.
- A massive disappointment, and a huge drop off from the last gen Civic. Panel fit is patchy, and rattles as mentioned above are much in evidence. My car will rattle when stationary and on tickover, it would not impress any potential customers, and really is not good enough in this day and age. My last gen Civic never once went back to the dealer with a fault, this Civic has had me back there five times so far. This car feels like it could have been built at the old Rover factory in Longbridge! Luckily however, the Civic is reliable.
- A real letdown. Very poor bass quality and a very tinny sound. These must be some of the cheapest speakers known to man! Much worse than the previous Civic and something for Honda to improve.
Clonk! A real boneshaker! It may be fine for the sportier models, but why do Honda persist with rock solid suspension on the lesser models? The Civic finds bumps on smooth roads, much more so than the last generation. This has a large knock on effect with regard to the dashboard and general rattles. A case of try before you buy, luckily I can now cope with it, but I do wish it could be altered.
So has it been gone over in felt tip pen?!? This really does need to be improved. At least I have not gained too many more stone chips on the bonnet. Honda do need to up their game in this department or sales are bound to drop off.
- This seems to have developed an 'I'll work when I feel like it' attitude. My main keyfob is on its second battery and has now died again. I'm using the spare now, and even though the fob lights up, the car doesn't always open. I'm wondering if Honda have used some cheaper materials in the remote locking system, maybe that's to blame for the failures? Again, my previous gen Civic suffered no failures in this regard.
Now for the final reckoning.
- Its still a great car! Even with the faults, especially the rattles which I can't stand, I do enjoy driving the car. Its very easy to drive with my disabilities and I can go for long distances without getting tired. The style of the car creates a feelgood factor that other cars cannot match, or even come close too. There is however, work for Honda to do to avoid the niggles on the next gen Civic. I do feel that Honda have cut costs and let both material and build quality slip alarmingly, anyone who like me owned the last gen Civic will know what I mean. Honda cannot take their reputation for quality and reliability for granted, as Mercedes did in the mid 1990's, its something that's very hard to gain, and very easy to lose. 'Boring but bulletproof' is how I used to describe the last gen Civic, this one is 'Rattly but reliable'. I did buy the car knowing of the teething problems, so I can't compain too much, I just hope my next Civic in 2011 is a little more like my 2005 model in its construction. Anyway, I've got another two years before I order another new car, plenty of time for this one to improve. Who knows, maybe the rattles will disappear in time? The most important thing for me is the fact that the Civic is a car that I can drive for longer distances than the last one, I need to keep as mobile as possible, and to that end I think the Civic is a big improvement in many areas, even taking the faults into account. Its also costing me less to run which is always good news. Maybe its the Austin Allegro of its day? (The rear threequarter view does remind me a little of the old Allegro!) Whatever, the Civic is one of those cars that will not be easy to forget, especially if you end up back in some boring old eurobox!
Sorry to have detained you all for so long, safe driving and enjoy your spaceships!