Product Type: Honda cars
Newest Review: ... seem a strange oversight for a car maker as experienced and customer focused as Honda. My fairly brief ownership of 6 months was headache ... more
Driving is actually a pleasure again...
Honda Civic 1.8i-VTEC SE 5dr
Member Name: mttmtt
Honda Civic 1.8i-VTEC SE 5dr
Advantages: Attention to detail, excellent design, driveability, reliability
Disadvantages: Parking a little difficult
I was looking for a new car in November 2008 and had a shortlist of about 6 cars in this size range, none of which were the Civic. By sheer chance, I happened to pass a Honda concessionary, so thought I may as well have a look and see what it was like. Thank god I did!
From the moment I sat in the car I knew that it was the one I wanted, and this feeling was 100% confirmed when I took it for a test drive. Having owned it for over a year and a half I have absolutely no regrets.
Everything has been carefully thought out and clearly designed with loving care and incredible attention to detail, not your standard run of the mill plasticky badly though out and positioned buttons you find in most cars. It made the interiors of the rival I looked at all seem incredibly dated.
The dashboard, switches, buttons etc are in perfect ergonomic positions, very easy to use, very easy to understand. The display is a pleasure to look at, the digital numerical speed indicator is raised higher then the body of the dashboard, making it easy to see without looking away from the road. The rev meter looks lovely with a blue glow around it and is very easy to read, as are the temperature and petrol gauges.
The best looking button is the START ENGINE button, a beautifully designed red orb set in silver. It just asks to be pressed and makes the simple process of turning on the car feel just a little bit special. It's quite strange but when I happen to drive other cars with the standard turn-the-key-to-start system, I really find myself missing the START button.
Before purchasing the car I read a few reviews of people complaining that at night the dashboard reflected in the windscreen. Certainly this is true if you have the dashboard lighting set to FULL, but you can dim the dashboard lighting level through a series of gradual steps and I for one can no longer see any reflection in the windscreen. The dashboard illumination also dims automatically if the headlights are on.
If I have one criticism of the dashboard, is that the sweeping surface over the dials can sometimes reflect the sun if it is in a particular position, and you have to be very careful when cleaning the surface you can cause small micro-scratches quite easily.
The Auto windscreen wiper setting functions very well, so they start automatically when it starts raining. You can adjust the speed of wipers in auto mode, but the adjustment can be a bit variable as it depends on the speed of the car and how much it is raining. The ambient light sensor, which automatically turns the headlights on when it gets darker, or you enter a tunnel, works perfectly. I don't think I've ever had to manually turn the lights on myself.
The leather clad steering wheel is very comfortable to hold for prolonged periods of time with excellently positioned buttons for the stereo and cruise control.
The radio/CD is totally integrated into the dashboard, and it's been done very well indeed. All buttons (again well designed and placed) are easy to use without taking eyes of the road, and the display is set higher up on the dashboard, again improving safety. The CD player will play MP3 discs, with is good because there is no easy way to attach any sort of auxiliary input into the radio unless you take the dashboard apart. If you want to physically connect your iPod (rather than use one of those iPod radio transmitters), you will need to purchase a special iPod kit addition, which costs far more than the iPod does! This was a little disappointing to me as iPod connection are becoming more of a standard, though I believe that the revised model of the Civic does now USB connection port. The sound from the stereo/speakers has very good clarity, but for me lacks good bass response.
The seats are fully adjustable and shaped to give good support when cornering. And finally I have found a car whose headrest seems to be in the perfect position, not too far back so your head never reaches it, or too far forward so you head is permanently bent over.
There are multiple storage units for both passenger and drive, nice and spacious and the glove box in font of the passenger is extremely spacious. You can also pipe in the air conditioning into the glove box to keep drinks chilled.
On drawback of the CD storage unit under the radio is that it is only large enough to store CDs without their cases. SO unless you want scratched CDs, it's better to store them in the centre compartment between the driver and passenger.
The rear passenger area is comfortable and spacious. The seats are very cleverly designed and can fold up, meaning you can stand a bike upright in the passenger area, as well as folding down flat. Folding the seats takes only a few seconds. The boot is like some sort of tardis. It's huge, far larger than any of it's competitors, plus it has a wide opening and the rear meaning it's much easier to get large bulky objects in and out.
There is also a "hidden compartment" in the boot where you can put a spare tyre, or use to store other items. The car doesn't come with a spare tyre, but instead with a special tyre sealing kit which you connect to a flat tyre and it pumps it up again whilst sealing the leak. This is only meant as a temporary measure until you can replace the tyre. As I haven't used it I can't comment on how effective it is.
In this respect the Civic is a bit like marmite! People either love it or hate it. It has to be remembered that this design was first launched in 2006, and was quite a breakthrough for Honda and way ahead of its rivals. I think that now those rivals are starting to catch up, but even though the design is still 4 years old, it still looks very fresh and a little bit special.
The door handles are anything but ordinary, like something off a 1950's rocket ship design from flash Gordon. The read door handles are recessed into the window frames, and many friends haven't even realised that it is actually a four door car as a result!
The best aspect is the side profile. It looks very sporty, very chic. The head on view is OK, but the TYPE S and TYPE R fronts look better. The rear of the car is a little disappointing in comparison, but I'll excuse that for the great boot access and boot space. I do however like the triangular twin exhaust pipe exits. Exhausts are generally pretty ugly things to look at, and tend to look like they're just been slung onto the car at the end with little thought, but here it is obvious that time has been spent to come up with something that looks good and an actual feature of the car.
Many people complain about the rear spoiler, which splits the rear window. It is true that is does cut out some visibility of the road and makes parking more difficult. However it does have the advantage of semi-covering up the lights of cars behind you at night, making night driving more comfortable on the eyes. Despite the claims that no rear wiper is needed, rain water does only clear at higher speeds, and if the rear window is dusty you'll need to wipe it clean manually.
The difficulty with parking is somewhat overcome with good sized wing mirrors, which look great and give very good visibility to the rear.
This car is pretty quick for its size. The clever people at Honda have fitted a 1.8 litre engine, which gives out about 140bhp. According to them , its got the performance of a 2 litre engine, with the economy of a 1.6 litre. I for one can't fault them on this statement. The car is lively, with its main torque region around the 3500-4000 rev mark. Go up through the gears at this range and the car absolutely flies. It still has more than adequate performance at the lower rev ranges, so changing gear around 2000-2500 (better driving practice and more economic) is comfortable and controlled.
With the aid of the on-board fuel consumption computer (the display of which sits in the middle of the rev counter), this car can be very fuel efficient indeed for its engine size. There is also a second reminder of how economically you're driving with a series of lights next to the speedometer. I have certainly changed my driving style (for the better) as a result of using these. They should be on every car made.
Fuel efficiency is also helped y the fact its got six gears rather than the standard five. This means better acceleration at low speeds and improved fuel efficiency at high speeds. I now always find myself searching for sixth gear in hire cars and always disappointed that its not there. The gear lever is very comfortable and very smooth when changing, its actually a pleasure to change gear in this car.
Another thing I soon noticed is that this is a very comfortable and easy car to drive. On longer journeys I did not find myself getting as tired as I used to in my previous car (though this doesn't mean you shouldn't stop for regular breaks!) and the driving position meant I wasn't getting a stiff back anymore. Maybe this is also due the fact that this is a fun car to drive, it doesn't seem like an effort, more of a pleasure.
The ride can be slightly stiff on bumpy roads, but that is the trade-off for better performance and comfort when on a-roads and motorways.
The only bugbears I have with the civic in terms of driving is that it is very difficult to judge where the front is when parking and the turning circle of the car. I was used to a car with a much longer bonnet, which I could see the end of. The front of the Civic is deceptively short, thanks to the incredible engineering of the Honda people in fitting the engine in, so I often end up parking a fair bit short of where I should be. The cars wheelbase also appears to be deceptively larger, so for me, its turning circle is a wider than I would expect, though this may also be due to the fact that as I'm not sure where the bonnet ends, so I'm being over cautious.
Love it. Love it so much I hate having to drive hire cars now, they just seem so dated, so badly thought out in comparison. The Civic is a sporty little number, packs a lot of punch, has the best designed interior I've come across and you can see that attention to detail has been paid to every aspect of the car. There are of course a few little gripes, but these are easily forgotten by the joy obtained from driving this car. Plus, it's a Honda, so it's extremely well-built and exceptionally reliable. The slightly higher cost will soon be repaid because it's much less likely to need repairs than it major competitors. And don't forget it's got a shiny red START button. Driving is fun again.
Summary: This car makes you want to go for a drive even if you've got nowhere to go.