Thought I would put in a mini review about my new civic vs my old Focus, after covering 7k miles in the last 9 weeks.
First Impressions on Delivery:
What a beautiful car the civic is, from front to back, and opening the door to the full leather interior with brushed aluminium trim (I think), it just got better. I have definitely made a good choice.
From here on in, I will award a point to either the Civic or the Focus, based on each category I have reviewed.
Disappointing. No lumbar support! Wow! I didn't even consider this wouldn't be on a 22k hatchback, and shame on me for not double checking before placing the order. I didn't think it would mean so much but without the base of your back being pushed out, your shoulders end up dropping forward and the old 'banana' shape occurs, which is uncomfortable on longer journeys.
Purchase of a lumbar cushion has gotten rid of this issue. forgot to check before placing the order. At 6ft 4in tall, I also find that the balance between seat height, sterring wheel adjustment and seat back angle is not great, thought not impossible to get comfy after a while. The 'ratchet' style seat back angle is also frustrating in the first instance to find that perfect angle.
Perfecto. Plenty of seat height and steering wheel adjustment with the added bonus of spin dial seat back adjustment and lumbar support. Getting comfy quickly is a doddle. Seats are also better bolstered on each side providing more support when turning into corners.
Civic 0 - Focus 1
Fantastic build quality and attractive to look at. The leather is sumptuous and obviously not at the cheap end of the market. The plastics are nice to look at and to touch. Dials have that quality 'heavy weight' feel to them when turning, and buttons are soft touch and very responsive. No unsightly gaps in the panels either. Overall a feeling of quality that is unexpected in a family hatchback.
Better build quality than most would have you think but still not able to compete with the Civic. Plastics are good on top of the dash but very hard and cheap on the door panels and lower areas of the dash, with a number of gaps between panels, especially around the doors.
Winner is the Civic
Civic 1 - Focus 1
It really is a beautiful car - need I say more.
I still hold a torch for the looks of the focus and would say they fall nicely between the utter dullness of a golf and the edgy attractiveness of the civic. I like the bulky, fairly aggressive, look since the facelift that is particualrly attractive in the ST and RS models.
Winner is the Civic
Civic 2 - Focus 1
Lots of road and wind noise, much more than I expected if I am honest, though not enough to make me cry in the long run. The engine is quiet and has plenty of poke; the gear change is slick and the clutch has low bite, which is a personal preference of mine. However, the car doesn't feel as stable as the focus did when pushing it around on my regular 20 mile B road trips to the motorway and back. Body roll is noticeable, and for me there is not enough feedback through the steering wheel, leaving me feeling as if I shouldn't push it too hard. The car is definitely fast but I still doubt the sub 9 second claims to 60mph as in the brochures. It doesn't feel as quick as the focus did off the mark and I have also recently struggled to initially keep up with a two litre diesel Jetta and A3 from lights. Where it does impress is 40mph and upwards and I like the gearing ratios allowing me to comfortably stay in 6th from around 55 onwards if I want to.
Visisbility in the rear doesn't bother me and I actually quite like the way the split in the rear windscreen blocks out headlight glare from cars behind. The main issue is the front pillars, combining with my height, making visibility at roundabouts and particularly seeing the inside kerbs at roundabouts, very poor indeed.
Again, lots of road and wind noise but I personally feel like there's a little less than in the civic, which is a big surprise to me. The engine is quite noisy but again has plenty of poke, and while the gear change is shorter and firmer than in the civic, I actually don't prefer it. The car itself never feels anything short of perfect when driving it, always planted and gives you oodles of confidence when throwing it into corners and accelerating out of them. Plenty of feedback through the wheel and although the stats say it's slowerr than the civic, the car 'feels' faster, at least until around 40mph when the civic takes the lead.
Visibility is great all round and the ride with the optional sports suspension is firm, even more so than in the civic (both on 17" wheels), but I'm not shy of a bumpy ride if the driving experience makes up for it.
Winner is the Focus
Civic 2 - Focus 2
If you drive it gently and stick well under 70mph in sixth, it returns close to 50mpg but stray over the limit and I've found myself in the low 30s once or twice. With normal driving, urban and extra-urban as they say, I return around 43mpg.
Hammered it everywhere I went and again, with all round driving in urban and extra-urban I returned around 43mpg. While I feel it is slightly more economical in the upper speed ranges, I think this is too close to call.
Civic 2.5 - Focus 2.5
Nice big boot, split fold seats, which lay flat with the base raised. Plenty of leg room in the front, with maybe not quite enough legroom in the back back. Headroom is great front and back. Cubby holes galore and cup holders in the front just where you want them.
Again nice big boot, but with the added bonus of the false bottom for extra space. Plenty of legroom in the front and the back, but with better centre passenger legroom due to the lower transmission tunnel (hope that is what you call it). Plenty of cubby holes with extra cup holders in the doors which the focus does not have. The total of three power sockets (1 in boot, 1 in armrest & 1 in centre console) is fantastic for my ipod, phone and speed camera detector. The final, and best point for me, are the cinema seat style lift up seats in the back. I just flip them up and my labrador can jump right in. No more messing around emptying the boot whenever I'm taking the dog out. Although the headroom is not fantastic in the front and back, I have to award the point to the civic for all the other things mentioned above.
Winner is the Civic
Civic 3.5 - Focus 2.5
Equipment & Gadgets:
Fully loaded with sat-nav, bluetooth hands free, mp3 stereo, ipod connection, dual climate control, auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors, HID lights, auto dimming rear view mirror, cruise. Optional scuff plates and body protection kit.
Standard Sony 8 speaker MP3 system, auto lights and wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror, heated windscreen. Optional bluetooth with voice control, keyless entry and start, dual climate, rear parking sensors.
Now you may think that the point should go to the Civic here for standard kit but I'm going to award it to the Focus. This may be controversial but the reasoning is simple; as a company car driver the cost is not the main issue for me, it's usability. In my opinion the electronic kit fitted in the Focus is far superior to that fitted in the civic:
- The sound quality in the civic borders on appalling when compared to any standard kit in any car, never mind the Sony system in the focus.
- The climate control in the civic does not heat or maintain it's temperature as well as the focus - the civic is always fluctuating with gentle heat, then gentle cool etc which is distracting to me.
- The voice control in the focus is far more intuitive and speedy to use than in the civic - where there seems to be an endless stream of questions to answer and delays.
- The handsfree kit in the Focus is quicker to respond in both dialling out and receiving calls (though the sound quality is roughly equal) and rarely locked up, unlike I have experienced a few times in the civic so far
Winner is the Focus
Civic 3.5 - Focus 3.5
I am not going to score this section yet as I have only covered 7k in the Civic and needless to say have had no problems. The focus had a number of issues over the 120k miles, including a failed alternator, a failed battery, 2 replacement egr valves, an cracked oil pan (I think that is right), 2 dented alloys (never been a problem on other cars I've owned), plenty of rattles and a broken bluetooth module. Seems like a long list, but remember it's 120k miles over 3 years and as most issues were repaired when serviced, it didn't keep the car off the road too long.
OVERALL RESULT IS A TIE WITH 3.5 POINTS A PIECE
I am quite surprised when I've put it down on paper as even though i love my new Civic, with the little niggles I have experience, I actually expected the Focus to come out on top prior to scoring. However, if I am to say I learnt one thing from driving both cars and writing this review is that I now realise why the Focus comes out on top in nearly every review you ever read in the car mags. It's because it does the basics like comfort, convenience and driving experience so well.
Although I don't regret ordering my civic and I have a lot more driving to do yet, my current belief is that I will be heading back to the focus in two years time when I come to re-order. This is a combination of the above comments about the basics being so much better but also because I don't like the looks of the new model civic due to come out next year. Also, the new model focus has significantly improved on it's current looks and if rumours of the 197bhp diesel under the bonnet are true, then for me, there will be no contest with any of the other diesel hatches out there.
I look forward to your comments and agreements / disagreements.