Our cars: Honda Civic - May

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Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC ES-T

Week ending May 31
Mileage 3650
Driven this week 450 miles

Read the full Honda Civic review

I'm not a fan of cars that tell you how you should be driving in order to achieve maximum economy. I imagine I'm not the only driver who knows only too well that mashing the right-hand pedal into the carpet and keeping the rev counter in the red zone will lead to bigger monthly fuel bills.

Our Honda Civic not only has 'nagging' arrows to tell you whether to shift up or down a gear, but the digital speedometer is also flanked by coloured strips that alternate between blue (bad) and green (good), depending on how hard you're pressing the accelerator pedal.

Amazingly, I've yet to be irked by these reminders. They're reasonably subtle and never distract my eyes from the road, so in the event that I need to 'make progress' I can do so without being made to feel guilty or copping a strop.

There's one other economy-related light on the dashboard, in the shape of a leaf, which shows whether Econ mode is activated. With it pressed, the Civic's brain is meant to adjust the climate and cruise control (and, somewhat bizarrely, the performance of the transmission) to boost MPG. On petrol-engined Civics Econ mode also tweaks engine performance, but my car has the 1.6 diesel engine and I’ve been unable to discern any difference in everyday driving. So the green leaf remains lit at all times.


Week ending May 24
Mileage 3200
Driven this week 250 miles

LED daytime running lights are fitted as standard to our Honda Civic. In fact even the entry-level Civic gets them for no extra cost. They're bright. Very bright. In fact I'd say they’re among the brightest you'll find on any car, including Citroen's DS3.

All new cars are required to have DRLs. Some cars are fitted with halogen bulbs, but the majority seem to have LEDs, and I can't say I'm a fan. Yes, the Civic's are low down, but do they really need to be so bright? At least they're set well away from the indicators - some manufacturers (Audi, Ford) site them in the main light cluster, which means the DRLs have to automatically dim if oncoming motorists are to see the flashing indicator. I call that a design flaw.

I have noticed one advantage of having bright LEDs, though, and that’s when you're behind a 'day dreamer' in the outside lane of the motorway; it doesn’t take them long to realise you’re there.

By Rob Keenan

Week ending May 17
Mileage 2950
Driven this week 106 miles

Our road test team were quite critical of the Honda Civic when it was new, and when I tried our long-term 2.2 diesel last year I shared some of their disappointment. The engine felt rough, the ride was poor and the limited rear visibility was downright annoying.

To make matters worse, we’re running a Honda CR-V long-termer that shares the Civic’s 2.2 engine, and in that car it’s much smoother.

Enter our new long-term Civic, now with the ultra-economical 1.6-litre diesel. This model weighs less and has a better ride. Early reports suggested a lack of refinement again, but I think it's smoother and quieter than both the 2.2 Civic and the 1.6 diesel Kia Ceed I’ve been running as a long-termer.

Compared with the Ceed, the Honda has better gearing and is more flexible; it’s more economical, too. It feels more responsive, thanks to quicker (although admittedly rather lifeless) steering.

It’s actually better to drive than the Kia, but in every other way the Ceed is the more straightforward car. For example I can see why some might not like the Civic’s over-stylised dash and detailing, whereas there is nothing to dislike about the Ceed’s interior, unless you fear being bored to death.

After a weekend with the Civic I warmed to it. The rear visibility is still a nuisance, but I think the only serious gripe is the high asking price.

By Mark Pearson

Week ending May 10
Mileage 2844
Driven this week 124 miles

There was no way our little Suzuki Swift was going to take several bags of garden detritus and a forest's worth of cardboard boxes to the dump in one trip, but thankfully Rob Keenan came good with his long-term Honda Civic, which although not of estate proportions, was more than up to the task.

I had to drop the rear bench to make the most of the mammoth 1210-litres of space to cram in all my unwanted junk, and happily this was nice and easy thanks to what Honda dubs the 'Magic Seats'.

It's a bold claim, but I don't think an exaggerated one. Each side of the 60/40 split folds down and collapses into the floor in one swift movement, creating a completely flat load space.


Week ending May 3
Mileage 2720
Driven this week 620 miles

The Honda Civic is currently spending much of its life on the motorway and is now well and truly run in.

I'm pleased to report that the average economy figure is on the up. It began at 52.5mpg and is now close to mid-50s. That's still way off the Government average of 78.5mpg, and even the What Car? True MPG figure of 66.4, but at least it's heading in the right direction.

Here at What Car? we work out the economy of all of our long-termers using good old-fashioned paper, pen and a calculator, and base our figures on the actual amount of fuel added to the tank and the miles covered, rather than refer to our cars' onboard computers. That's just as well in the case of the Civic, because it's wildly optimistic, frequently saying I'm achieving mid-60s.

Question is, will the diesel Civic's economy continue to improve as the miles pile on? I guess there’s only one way to find out.

By Rob Keenan

Our cars: Honda Civic - April


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