Our cars: Honda Civic - May

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Honda Civic/Hyundai i30
Honda Civic/Hyundai i30
Honda Civic 2.2 i-DTEC ES

Week ending May 25
Mileage: 4462
Driven this week: 520 miles

Honda Civic review

I spent last weekend in one of the Civc's key rivals – the new Hyundai i30.

I drove a 1.6 CRDi model, which has a 109bhp diesel engine. In mid-spec Active trim it costs £17,995, which is £3500 less than the list price of our Civic. It's well-equipped, too, although you have to move up to Style trim at £18,995 to more or less match the Civic's standard kit, with features such as climate control, electrically folding door mirrors and automatic headlights and wipers as standard.

The i30's diesel engine has a lot (39bhp) less power than the Civic, but it's hardly slow. It's a flexible engine and it's certainly a lot quieter than the Civic's, especially at motorway speed. The i30 has a more comfortable ride, too.

I think the i30 looks great, too, and I'd go as far as saying it's one of the best-looking cars in its class. Much the same goes for the interior, which is neatly designed and solidly built.

The Civic isn't as easy on the eye, but there's a boldness to it that I'm warming to. I like the quirkiness of the Civic's interior, too, and I think it has the edge for quality over the i30, with plusher materials and a rock-solid feel throughout. I also prefer the Civic's snappier gearshift and short-throw shift.

There's no doubt the i30 is better value, but I think the Civic still has plenty of appeal. It'll be interesting to see how the 1.6 diesel version of the Civic – due this autumn – compares.


Leo's Honda Civic on video

Week ending May 18
Mileage: 3942
Driven this week: 514 miles

I've experimented with using the Civic's 'econ' mode recently. Press a big green button on the dashboard and it alters the throttle response and air-con settings to maximise fuel economy.

My previous long-termer - a Honda Insight - had the same feature, which strangled the engine so efficiently that I ended up putting my foot down harder as a result and getting worse fuel economy.

The Civic's has far less effect: there's very little difference when you're driving and fuel economy doesn't seem to change for better or worse. You do get a cute little tree displayed in the instrument panel, though.

Week ending May 11
Mileage: 3428
Driven this week: 286 miles

I haven't seen many new Civics yet, but I've noticed a lot of the previous-generation models recently. Mainly, I think, because I've parked next to them and inevitably compared the two.

There are plenty of similarities, and some of my colleagues have said that the new model is just an uglier version of the previous one. That's a bit harsh, but it's true that the latest Civic misses out on some neat details from the previous car, such as the triangular exhaust tailpipes and door handles, and space-age front grille.

The new car's chunky wheelarches are heavy-handed, too, but overall I think there's boldness to it – and at least it's a bit different to its rivals.

One thing you really notice when the two cars are parked side-by-side are the dimensions; the latest Civic is 3cm longer and 2cm lower than its predecessor, but it appears disproportionately larger overall.


Week ending May 4
Mileage: 3142
Driven this week: 538 miles

I've covered a lot of miles in the Civic this week, cramming in a couple of return trips from London to Brighton and a visit to Norfolk to drive the new Lotus Exige S.

All that motorway driving has bumped up the fuel economy nicely, although the average of 52.6mpg isn't as impressive as it was in the car's first couple of weeks. I put that down to the novelty of getting such good economy – and trying to improve it – wearing off. Impatience – and a heavier right foot – has crept in. I still think it's an excellent return, however.

The Civic's long-distance comfort is proving to be pretty good. I was concerned that the driver's seat might not be supportive enough and that the backrest doesn't go as upright as I'd like, but I haven't had a problem so far. Thanks to the unusually soft cushioning, it's possible to adjust your driving position by shifting around in the seat, which seems to do the trick.


Our cars: Honda Civic - April


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