Honda Civic Used for sale Cheltenham, Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Cirencester,Stroud, Gloucestershire
|Tax Band:||G £170|
|Number of Previous Owners:||0|
|Remote Central Locking|
Honda Civic Used for sale Cheltenham, Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Cirencester,Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Adherents of the "all cars look alike" school always come unstuck with Honda's Civic. Part pyramid, part jet fighter, the new Civic, when it first appeared at the Geneva show in 2006, set jaws dropping. Then there was the equally futuristic interior. Switches and dials captured the textures and hues of a sweet shop. Flickering bar graphs and LEDs indicated, well, what? Escape velocity from earth? Truly this was a spaceship hiding among the C-segment Golfs, Focuses and Astras.
About as difficult to operate, too, and Honda's dash defined a Marmite moment in automotive interiors. What's more, the Civic was a conceptual step back for Honda, hiding MacPherson strut, torsion-beam chassis ubiquity instead of the company's previous race-car engineering. Style over substance? Not at all, but to drive, that Civic proved far from revolutionary, with a harsh and noisy ride, numb-feeling steering, indifferent trim materials and uncomfy seats.
So it was in the office marked "Kaizen" (Continuous Improvement), rather than "Space-age design", that Honda started work on this, the ninth generation of the Civic, a genus first launched in 1972.
Things have not been so good for Honda since the banking crisis of the last decade. Sales, not uniformly strong across the whole of Europe, have fallen off a cliff. In the UK, Honda sales are less than half their 2006 figure and Civic sales have gently declined from 25,000 in 2006 to 20,000 last year. If that weren't enough, the company was hit hard by this year's Fukushima disaster and recent floods in Thailand have hit another tranche of its suppliers.
This new Civic is seen as crucial to the turnaround prospects in Europe and Honda has thrown the kitchen sink at the launch. There's a British angle to all this as, since 1993, the Civic has been built by 3,000 staff at the company's Swindon factory, which has recently been put on part-time operation because of shortages of parts from Thailand. More than 1.2 million Civics have been built there alongside the Jazz and the CR-V and over 50 per cent of them are exported to more than 60 countries.
So to the shape. The new car is almost an inch lower, just over an inch longer and a fraction wider than its predecessor, but it's the shorter wheelbase that has the most dramatic effect, with longer overhangs at both ends. The style isn't as cogent or attractive as the old, especially the low-drag nose and some colours overemphasise the ludicrous rear lamp/spoiler moulding.
There's method in those outlandish looks, though. "It was fortunate that we pulled out of Formula One racing," says Kazuo Sunaoshi, deputy development leader on the Civic, "because we could use those aerodynamicists and the wind tunnel to fine tune the car."
So aerodynamic lift at speeds over 60mph has been reduced and stability increased, but not at the expense of increasing drag. The body is stiffer, too, better locating the rear suspension, which runs on liquid-filled rather than solid rubber bushes. There's a stop/start system across the range and an Eco button which moderates throttle mapping and reduces the aircon output. Press-on drivers will also find the speedometer lighting changing from green to red when they jam the accelerator to the boards.
As before, the most popular UK model is likely to be the 1.8 i-VTEC ES petrol. Perhaps that's because Honda's oil-burner is the idiosyncratic 148bhp, 2.2-litre unit, which gives 67.3mpg in the Combined cycle and with Band B CO2 emissions, but also weighs another 315lb and costs an additional £2,100.
There are four main trim levels; SE, ES, EX and EX GT, with the most popular being the ES, with cruise control, dual-zone air conditioning, a rear parking camera, automatic lights and windscreen wipers, electric windows, a Category 1 alarm system and a six-speaker audio system. From March, Honda plans an ES-T upgrade for an additional £995, which adds Bluetooth hands-free telephone connectivity and an integrated satnav. There's a standard three-year, 90,000-mile warranty.
Step inside and while the facia is still split-level, there's a new found logic with more conventional switches and dials bunched together. Material quality is hugely improved and the trim seems better made and fitted. In the centre is a new Panasonic high-resolution screen that looks like a tablet computer, clearly displaying satnav, air-con and radio/CD information.
The seats are more comfortable, with a more lateral location, and there's enough room in back for a couple of six footers with room to spare. The rear seat bases also pivot up, as in the Jazz, which allows access to the floor area and the carriage of taller loads. Drivers with big feet might find that right-hand-drive Civics have an annoying strengthening bar across the top of the pedals, which catches your toe caps.
On the road, the 1.8 petrol is a clean-revving, sparky unit, complimented by the new six-speed manual gearbox, which has a pleasing mechanical-feeling change and well-spaced ratios. There's a new found agility, with well-weighted and accurate steering, progressive brakes and a fluid, comfortable ride. It's a more instinctive drive, turns in well and is all the better for it. A Type-R performance version is on the way and this car bodes well for that hot hatch, previous versions of which suffered from slightly disappointing steering.
The diesel version doesn't carry its extra weight as easily and there's a sense that the damping/springing curve is much steeper so that while it rides acceptably over small ripples, it fires uncomfortably off bigger bumps. A combination of harder springing and stiff-walled Michelin eco tyres transmits certain road vibrations straight to the steering wheel and your fingers. There's also a fair bit of road noise.
It's not a disaster, but this is a car for those who value fuel economy over purchase price and dynamics. Diesel fans might be better waiting for Honda's new 1.6-litre unit, which appears late next year.
Honda's engineers have done a fine job on improving the Civic's faults and raising standards for this likeable hatchback. Let's hope the Thai floods recede quickly, the suppliers get back on their feet and Swindon can resume full production. Honda's done the hard work with the Civic, but now it could do with a bit of good luck.
Tested: 1,798cc four-cylinder petrol engine; six-speed manual transmission (five-speed auto optional), front-wheel drive
Price/on sale: £16,495-£26,595 (ES £18,995)/February 2012
Power/torque: 140bhp @ 6,500rpm/ 128lb ft @ 4,300rpm
Top speed: 134mph
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 9.1sec
Fuel economy: 37.2mpg/47.1mpg (EU Urban/Combined)
CO2 emissions: 143g/km
VED band: F (£130)
Verdict: A fine upgrade, which addresses some of the shortcomings of its predecessor. The petrol models are still the ones to go for
Telegraph rating: Four out of five stars
Ford Focus, from £13,995
Has divided opinions, but we think it’s the benchmark for ride and handling in the sector, with more than adequate accommodation and eye-catching style.
Volkswagen Golf, from £15,850
Due for replacement next year, but don’t expect a run-out bargain for VW’s mainstay, which offers almost unrivalled build quality and a smooth ride.
Vauxhall Astra, from £13,995
Unexceptional styling, but fine ride and handling and competitive prices. Add fine build and good engine range and small wonder this is a regular UK bestseller.