Well I had the pleasure of driving the Civic 2.2 EX at the weekend and was quite impressed.
My first impression of the Civic was good, I had already spent some time behind the wheel and being shown how the rear seats work in the show room. Initially I found behind the wheel a strange feeling, everything had a place and felt as though it had been thought out a little better than your average car, for example air con right next to the steering wheel (still dont know why the heater controls on my Astra are so low on the console?).
Anyway, I drove a November 06 vivid blue one which happens to be a colour I really like (wifes 206cc is a very similar) although the grey trim tended to ruin the look imo, they should definately give the option of colour coding at the factory (at no extra cost!), whilst greys and silver work ok with the trim, other colours dont look as good and so are not so popular.
The dealer said the guy had given it back because he couldnt afford it anymore. Can you do that after 5 months? (I am assuming it was on finance?) I know with Vauxhall you have to have it at least 9 months. See how suspicious I am about issues
Anyway, the dealer showed me the controls and off we went. I didnt notice the ride to be that firm and my wife said the back was really comfortable although they were quite high compared to the front, the seats were not too hard, altough I am not sure how I would fair without a lumbar support (I have read on here that not many find it a problem)
The engine was a little noiser than expected although it definately wasnt too intrusive, my wife again commenting on how quiet it was in the back. Performance wise it suprised me, it didnt feel we were going that fast by when watching the speedo I was shocked by how quick it increased, gear box was fantastic and although a little further away it made the Astra feel very cramped in comparison.
The dash layout as a whole was nice and speedo is in a fabulous position and I found the economy lights opened my eye. I found 3rd gear perfect to 30mph and 4th for 40mph, right in the band to enable maximum economy. If I did try 4th for 30mph I found that the economy lights went off due to that little extra that was needed to keep moving. I definately made me think how often I must be in the wrong gear in my Astra and how much fuel I must waste because of it. The Civic was very easy to drive and I actually liked the lighter feel of the steering wheel.
The interior quality imo isnt quite up to that of the Astra (one thing they did get right) and a few rattles & knocks were apparent, but then again my friends BMW 1 series made a few (not many mind) so you can not expect rattle free. The material on the seats wasnt great either imo and leather would be a must.
As for minor niggles, there was a definate clonk/knock or two from the rear during the drive although my wife didnt hear it (I was obviously listening for it) The radio appeared to work on the two channels that we were shown. Apart from a slightly sticky rear door that was it.
I didnt use the sat nav as I was more interested in the drive to start with.
Well, whats the final verdict? First of all on my drive around town and a little bit of national limit action enabled me to return 37.2 mpg! I think that is better than my Astras combined figures (real world), the only down side to this is that they say you have to drive about 60k to get the return on the extra initial cost, which would require me to drive it for 10 years.
Would I like one - Yes
Would I buy one - Yes, but very dependent on price, the one I spec'ed even with a what car target price touched over £18k!!!!!!!! and I am a little concerned about some issues.
Am I going to change - I honestly dont know yet, I need to test drive it again (maybe for a longer period) and my wife may want to drive it. I worked out that if I keep my car for the duration of finance then px for a 3yr old civic it would cost me about £13k, if I sell now and buy new its going to cost me about £16-17k in total.
It is a nice car.