From £15,760
Latest round of upgrades for popular hatchback are not enough to disguise the Honda Civic’s age

Our Verdict

Honda Civic
The ninth generation of Honda’s venerable hatch has moved upmarket, although the styling is divisive

The Honda Civic is an impressive achievement and a worthy rival to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, but it isn't quite up to class-leading standards

15 February 2011

What is it?

You know when a car is nearing the end of its life; the special editions seem to appear on a weekly basis and minor upgrades are offered to ensure the parts bin is empty when production of a replacement is underway.

The Honda Civic is one such car; production of the current model will end at Swindon in the next 12 months and be replaced with a new model to be presented before 2011 is out.

What's it like?

What we have here is the final round of upgrades for the current standard Civic range. Our Si model came equipped with the familiar 138bhp 1.8-litre i-VTEC engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and a range of cosmetic upgrades to keep the Civic’s futuristic styling looking fresh six years on.

It’s new front grille is taken from the Type R model now departed from UK price lists – it’s high-revving 2.0-litre VTEC engine fell foul of EU5 emissions regulations – and it also sports new 17-inch alloys and seats upholstered in half leather and Alcantara.

We’ll leave you to judge the Civic’s subtly tweaked looks, but on the dynamic front it’s obvious the Civic is now feeling its age. The engine, although quiet and refined, lacks grunt compared to more modern powerplants from rivals Volkswagen and Ford, while the ride quality is hit and miss. It’s fine on smoother motorways and A-roads, but has a habit to crash and fidget on more broken city surfaces, not helped by those alloys, handsome though they might be.

The age is felt inside, too. Although the feeling of solidity and the excellent build quality remain, the design of the centre console feels dated and the look and feel of the switchgear is way off the class best.

Should I buy one?

This Honda Civic 1.8 Si will tempt some with its spacious interior, looks and familiarity and is still a decent all-round package. But in this highly-competitive segment where decent is such a long way from class best, a replacement Civic can’t come soon enough.

Honda Civic 1.8 Si

Price: £18,270 Top speed: 127mph 0-62mph: 8.9sec Economy: 42.2mpg CO2: 155g/km Kerb weight: 1321kg Engine: four-cylinder, 1799cc, petrol Power: 138bhp at 6300rpm Torque: 128lb ft at 4300rpm Gearbox: six-speed manual

 

Join the debate

Comments
18

17 February 2011

I'm not sure this generation Civic ever felt modern, it was one of the things that was commented on when the car was first launched.

The engine may lack grunt but it has one very important asset that is frustratingly missing from many more modern equivalents - instant throttle response.

I am not sure how much longer Honda can continued with unblown engines (because of emissions) but it will be a sad day when they go.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

17 February 2011

[quote TegTypeR]I'm not sure this generation Civic ever felt modern, it was one of the things that was commented on when the car was first launched.[/quote]

I agree, to an extent. Some of the "feeling its age" are faults that the car has had from day one - the ride quality for example. The engine I've never been that impressed with - excellent performance and economy figures, but I've always found it rough, unrefined and, for a Honda engine, unwilling to rev.

I'm surpised the interior is now being panned. I always got on quite well with the interior on this car (had many as courtesy cars) - the heater controls are probably the best of any car, the dashboard is easy to use and the split level works once you're used to it. It may not be all soft-touchy, square buttony like a Golf, but I'd say at times what looks "upscale" can make an interior harder to use.

17 February 2011

[quote theonlydt]I'm surpised the interior is now being panned.[/quote]

I'm not. When I tested one last year it really stood out compared to the competition for being poor quality. I'm sure it will last well enough but that massive expanse of grey plastic was like driving a tupperware bowl. The key reminded me of the one my dad had for his 1980 Chevette and felt like it cost about 25p. I spend a lot of time in my car and couldn't imagine spending long in that one.

The drive I didn't think was too bad, in the diesel version anyway. Not class leading by a long way but not a deal breaker for me. That stupid rear screen was though.

22 February 2011

[quote Lee23404]

[quote theonlydt]I'm surpised the interior is now being panned.[/quote]

I'm not. When I tested one last year it really stood out compared to the competition for being poor quality. I'm sure it will last well enough but that massive expanse of grey plastic was like driving a tupperware bowl. The key reminded me of the one my dad had for his 1980 Chevette and felt like it cost about 25p. I spend a lot of time in my car and couldn't imagine spending long in that one.

The drive I didn't think was too bad, in the diesel version anyway. Not class leading by a long way but not a deal breaker for me. That stupid rear screen was though.

[/quote] I nearly made the mistake of buying a new Civic 6 years ago. Thankfully I drove 3 different versions before concluding Honda had gone backwards. My last of the line old shape Type S was well built, fun to drive, and did between 33 - 40mpg. The current shape has no suspension, no rear wiper and plastics evidently recycled from the plastic dividers used in Christmas Biscuit Tin selections. What are Honda up to? The futuristic shape now looks more dated that the previous generation, the petrol engines have zero torque, come on Honda you can do so much better. Favourite Honda? The 2.0 Se Stream 7 seater, roomy, fast and fun.

22 February 2011

Mr£4worth wrote the following post at Feb 22, 2011 12:28 AM:

[quote Lee23404]

[quote theonlydt]I'm surpised the interior is now being panned.[/quote]

Same here I think it has a great interior and I think some people just expect too much how high does Quality have too be before we are ever happy can not just always keep getting better there has to be a level . Would somuch prefer this over any other Japanese car or any German car it has a much nicer and cooler interior than any off them .

I'm not. When I tested one last year it really stood out compared to the competition for being poor quality. I'm sure it will last well enough but that massive expanse of grey plastic was like driving a tupperware bowl. The key reminded me of the one my dad had for his 1980 Chevette and felt like it cost about 25p. I spend a lot of time in my car and couldn't imagine spending long in that one.

The drive I didn't think was too bad, in the diesel version anyway. Not class leading by a long way but not a deal breaker for me. That stupid rear screen was though.

[/quote] I nearly made the mistake of buying a new Civic 6 years ago. Thankfully I drove 3 different versions before concluding Honda had gone backwards. My last of the line old shape Type S was well built, fun to drive, and did between 33 - 40mpg. The current shape has no suspension, no rear wiper and plastics evidently recycled from the plastic dividers used in Christmas Biscuit Tin selections. What are Honda up to? The futuristic shape now looks more dated that the previous generation, the petrol engines have zero torque, come on Honda you can do so much better. Favourite Honda? The 2.0 Se Stream 7 seater, roomy, fast and fun
Am sure it does have suspension maybe a little hard do not the best maybe . The plastics in all the ones I have been in are all very good . I think the shape still looks good but do agree that rear window screen divider is not very good for reversing or seeing out the back a rear wiper and a more normal screen would have been better .

22 February 2011

I think the Civic still looks pretty sharp. And my mechanic tells me they are reliable. Engelbert

22 February 2011

had two diesel versions of this car in 06 and 07 which followed on from an 05 type-R and i must say the interior was one of the best things about it and made everything else look boring and dated.

the only complaint i had about this car was its crashy low speed ride,which was touched upon in this review.

22 February 2011

The Honda Civic is still the most funky and futuristic looking inside and out of any car in this class. Its competitors are pretty boring in comparison.

22 February 2011

I know of two people who have driven Civics for 20 years, they have kept their old shape ones and given this a miss, they have also had no trouble with them which says alot about the build quality, hopefully the next one will be better to drive.

22 February 2011

I'm surprised by a number of old-was-better comments. Having driven many thousands of miles in both the improvement of new over old is night and day.

The 1.8 petrol is much more tractable than the old 1.6. It pulls where the old engine faded (and sounds great in tunnels too).

The steering on the old car was precise but was almost completely devoid of feel robbing the driver of critical on-limit information - particularily in greasy conditions. The current car still lacks feel but it's significantly easier to read where the breakaway is. Oh and neither can touch the 'Rover' Civic in this one aspect.

The old car's tall and narrow stance was great for back roads but the current car inspires much more confidence because it is so much more stable. In corners you could play with the old car more but it's significantly slower.

I agree the ride is poor on potmarked roads but the previous generation face-lifted Sport models were back-breaking. Even the Type-R wasn't as harsh.

Inside the old car felt like a dark box with seats inserted for convenience. The current is a properly integrated interior with lower, more comfortable front seats and arguably the most flexible rear-seat seats of any hatch available.
The steering wheel is a good size, driving position excellant, controls within easy reach. Not things that could be said of the old car.

At least the best part of the old car was retained - that fabulous gearbox!

Despite all this I agree the ride, dash (which I like) and plastics need to be improved because their competitors continue to push these areas to new levels with each iteration.

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