Review after 7 months with a 2.2iCDTi Type S GT
I don't usually write reviews but I thought my experiences of owning my Civic after 7 months may be of interest to others.
First of all, the car is in Urban Titanium which, if I'd seen it in the brochure no way would I have bought it, but in the flesh I think it's very different and therefore matches the looks. Being an ex-demo it had (what I believe to be) a few extras:
1) 18 inch wheels in a graphite colour (sets off the colour great)
2) Front and rear spoiler/splitter, yet to see another Civic on the road with this.
3) Uprated stereo with the loudest speakers I've ever heard!
4) Full Type S decals and badges
5) Parrot hands free kit (very good!)
6) Parking sensors
So why the Civic? My Citroen C4 HDi VTS was all paid up and I fancied something different. Plus, as it was depreciating pretty quickly I thought I'd buy something before it became too little to be a deposit on my next car. The Civic ticked all the boxes. It looked great, was a diesel so 50mpg was on offer and it certainly has a sportier drive. The drawback of this is that at 70 mph it is louder than the C4 which had laminated glass all round, plus the ride is a tad hard but not outrageously so (you can't have great handling and a soft ride). On top of this the Honda reputation (compared to Citroen!) sealed the deal.
So... in early July I became the proud owner of a Civic, much to everyones amazement (I'd always had Citroen's beforehand, 7 in fact, a mixture of Saxo's, Xsara's, C2's and a C4). After 6 months I can sum up my thoughts of the car in one word 'Good'. So why not great?
Well, I think my expectation of how much a Honda would be better than a Citroen was simply unrealistic in hindsight which has therefore left me a little disappointed. In shear stylistic terms the outside of both cars is pretty wacky and modern, with the Civic definitely having the better overall design than the C4 coupe, which from some angles was a little out of proportion. However, I think Citroen's designers had the interior sorted out better but it's only after you've owned the car for a bit do you notice the small comparative annoyances.
For example, when the lights come on during the day on the Honda you have to turn the dash back lighting up to see the speedo etc. Then at night you have to turn it down. Not so on the Citroen, it adjusted the lighting of the digital displays to match the ambient light levels when the head lights were switched on. Plus the materials Citroen used, whilst are not better quality, are more scratch resistant and therefore more practical for a 3 door. Classic example being the black plastic on the door cards and pillars. Being a 3 doors it's inevitable that the seat belt will tap it/ rub against it, as will passengers scrape against it getting in/out. I have found I have to use a black shoe cream to hide the marks on the Civic but after 3 years the Citroen plastic was unmarked, just needed a little wipe to get any scuffs off.
Don't get me wrong, both rattle a bit, had roughly the same paint quality, do 50 mpg and the spec was about the same. But stupidly I was expecting no rattles, stone chip proof paint etc. And the first time I pushed the drivers seat forward and it didn't return back to the original position I was baffled. My 1999 Saxo 1.1 base model did this......
So the slight tinge of disappointed is really my fault. I've sorted the stone chip problem out by having a film put on the bonnet and wings, don't let anyone in the drivers side and am very careful with dusting the plastics etc so they don't scratch (Honda are going to look at the panel in front of the rev counter during the cars service as it's scratched even with using a clean microfibre cloth). Speaking of the service, I have the Honda Happiness pack, it's a bit pricey but I have no doubt the level of service will be better.
On the plus side, the engine is a fantastic. Quieter than the PSA engine with a more even spread of power, a lovely tone and despite being 200cc bigger is as fuel efficient. Plus the cars faster and handles great, in fact the best since my Saxo VTR (so better than the C4 and C2 VTS). My other favourite part is the panoramic roof, it really lightens the cabin up. The size of the boot amazes me too, in fact considering Civics relatively small dimensions, the size the cabin is very roomy, clearly having the fuel tank under the front seats is a good idea (once you get over being able to hear it slosh about a bit when it's about 3/4 full!).
In the future I also know it will hold more than the 35% of it's value the C4 did, so that is good news. So the key question is, would I buy another, particularly when the heavily updated model is launched. Well if I look to spend around £20,000 again then the answer is No. I simply don't think a thorough overhaul will be enough as I think the current Civic is on a par with its contemporaries but no more. For example, the new Focus looks good and is getting great reviews, the Alfa Giulietta is stunning and dare I say it, the Citroen DS4 looks to be amazing (I've tried out the new C4 which it will be based on and the quality is eye popping, but again as the C4 is based on the old model it's not getting great reviews, especially in terms of how much of a drivers car it is due to I believe the torsion bar rear suspension, a trait the Civic shares).
So like I said, I think the car is good but held back from being great by not offering the complete package in terms of design and quality that I'd really expect of a Honda. If I could turn the clock back would I have bought it still? Truthfully I'm not sure. It is a better overall car than the C4 was but we're talking such small margins that the Civic is only a touch better. However, and if I'm feeling completely vain, then other peoples perception of the brand (with comments such as 'what a great make, well done)! may mean I would buy it again. However, we're back to the central point of the matter, I'm just not sure that the 'Honda' brand really warrants this level of respect over the likes of Ford and Citroen. Question is, is Honda getting worse, or the likes of Citroen better, the answer could be quite crucial to the success of the new model when it arrives.
Last edited by DarrenG; 12th February 2011 at 22:34.