Common Honda Civic ('06-'12) problems
The Civic stands out from the rest of the small family car crowd thanks to its quirky looks, and while buyers like the futuristic design, it can take some getting used to. The rear spoiler severely restricts rear visibility, so we'd recommend a thorough test drive to make sure that you can live with it.
Inside, the futuristic theme continues. The dashboard features a twin-level design with digital instruments. There is plenty of legroom all round, but rear headroom is compromised by the raked roofline.
Boot capacity is an impressive 485 litres with the seats in place. The rear seats fold flat to increase capacity and the seat bases can be folded up against the seatback to store items.
Three petrol engines were offered in the eighth-generation Civic. The entry-level unit is an 88bhp 1.4-litre that averages 47.9mpg. This was not a big seller, though, because it's a bit underpowered. The range-topping Type R has a 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces 198bhp making it a true hot hatch. Our pick of the range is the 1.8-litre engine. It produces 138bhp and has average economy of 42.2mpg.
Diesel buyers have just one option: a 138bhp 2.2-litre engine that averages 53.3mpg. It's a punchy engine that's also economical, but it does use a lot of oil.
Entry-level S trim includes electric windows and remote central locking, but you need to move up to SE to get air-conditioning, a CD player and alloy wheels. Sport trim adds high-intensity headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels. ES brings automatic headlights, cruise control and a panoramic glass roof. Range-topping EX comes with sat-nav. Our pick is SE trim, because it comes with everything you need.
Early eighth-generation cars are on sale for less than £3000, while two-year-old 1.8-litre SE models can be had for £8000.
Honda has a reputation for building reliable cars, but there are some things to look out for.
The most recent JD Power survey reported that owners were pleased with the Civic but that reliability was not as good as they expected. The main complaints were of noisy brakes, imperfect paintwork and uneven tyre wear. Keep an eye open for these problems during the test drive.
Honda Civic power steering problem ('06)
Some early cars were recalled to rectify a problem with the power steering. Affected cars could lose power steering without warning. Honda resolved the issue by recalling cars and testing the power steering system.
Honda Civic handbrake problem ('06-'07)
Honda recalled more than 78,000 cars that had been made between 2005 and 2007, to fix a problem with the handbrake that could result in it releasing while unattended. Recalled cars should have had the handbrake mechanism replaced, check that the work has been carried out on your car.
Honda Civic brake problem ('10)
Some cars made in early 2010 were recalled to sort a problem affecting the brake pedal. A pin linking the brake pedal to the braking system was not installed on some cars causing the brake pedal to depress further than normal and increase stopping distance. Honda resolved the problem by fitting the missing pin.
Honda should have fixed all of these faults, so check they have been rectified before you buy.
By Matthew Burrow