Our cars: Honda Civic - April

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Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC ES-T

Week ending April 26
Mileage 2100
Driven this week 200 miles

Read the full Honda Civic review

Big box, small family car. The two usually don't mix, but then the Honda Civic isn't your usual family runabout.

It's all to do with Honda's 'magic seats'. Not only do the Civic's rear seatbases fold up, cinema-seat style, so you can store something large in the rear footwell, they also fold completely flat at the tug of a lever, so the extended boot will easily take something long. Just like the flatpack bookcase I had to transport home this week.

If I’d been driving my Ford Focus, I'd have had to flip up the rear seatbases, then fold down the seatbacks to get a reasonably flat load floor, whereas all I had to do in the Civic was pull one lever and watch the base drop as the backrest folded down on top of it. Easy.

Sure, it costs more for manufacturers to produce a set-up like this one, but it's such an elegant and helpful solution that I wish more cars had seats like the Civic's.


Week ending April 19
Mileage 1900
Driven this week 450

I drove our new long-term Civic for the first time this week, and have to admit I was a little disappointed.

The Civic has never been one of the best small family cars, but I’d hoped the arrival of Honda’s new 1.6-litre diesel engine would help bring it closer to the class leaders.

Unfortunately, while the new engine is strong enough, it’s really quite noisy. It also transmits too much vibration through the floorpan and clutch pedal.

I only hope the new engine gets a better installation in when it arrives in the CR-V later this year.

By Will Nightingale

Week ending April 12
Mileage 1450
Driven this week 480 miles

I came close to running out of fuel earlier this week. I must accept most of the blame, of course, but the Civic was also at fault. The built-in sat-nav said it was 130 miles from Teddington in Greater London to Tamworth in Staffs, and the remaining range was showing as 160 miles.

I had to be in Tamworth before 9.30am and set out in good time. This being half-term week, the traffic was relatively light on the M25 and M40, so I wasn’t putting pedal to metal. However, I'd barely got halfway there before it became apparent that things were going to be tight. Very tight.

I slowed up, which helped a little, but with 10 miles to go the range had plummeted to 16 miles, the fuel warning light had been on for quite a while and the fuel gauge needle was firmly in the red. Trouble is, I was now on country roads and there wasn't a petrol station in sight. Fortunately, our Civic's sat-nav has a 'landmark icons' feature, where you can ask it to display icons such as hotels, dealers and petrol stations. So with the latter turned on, I prepared to be duly informed.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. The screen remained icon-free. So my palms became sweatier and I wished I had paid the stupid prices charged by motorway service stations, instead of being such a tight wad. Fortunately, I made it to Tamworth and refuelled, but the inaccurate range estimator and somewhat incomplete sat-nav system (it’s still refusing to show petrol stations) left a rather bad taste in my mouth.

By Rob Keenan

Read the Honda Civic introduction >>


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