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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Space-age looks, and a reputation for reliability

Against Tyre noise is distracting and handling isn't the best

Verdict Avant-garde styling, but not to all tastes

Go for… 1.8 i-VTEC SE

Avoid… 1.4 i-DSI S

Honda Civic Hatchback
  • 1. The fuel-filler cap can refuse to open
  • 2. Make certain the oil has been changed regularly on diesels - remember, there's no warning light
  • 3. There can be condensation in the light clusters
  • 4. Interior rattles are reported by some owners
  • 5. There have been recalls for the rear suspension - ensure that any work needed has been carried out
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Honda Civic Hatchback full review with expert trade views

Forget the old image of Honda - this is a sharply styled car for the young at heart. It originally caused a stir with Honda's traditional customers, but time has softened its impact. Although it looks like something straight from the streets of Tokyo, it's a European model that's different from the car sold in Japan.

The interior is almost as controversial as the exterior, and can take some time to get used to. There's enough legroom for four adults, but headroom is limited in the rear. The boot is a good size, and folding the split rear seats down will add considerably to the load space.

On the road, the Civic handles well, but it's not as sharp as a VW Golf or Ford Focus. There's a certain amount of tyre noise, too, and the car's ride can be firm.

Trade view

Don't assume that you can only buy a used Civic from a franchised dealer. There are plenty at car supermarkets and independent specialists - and the savings are worthwhile.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The ultra-rare entry-level S models come without air-con, a CD player or alloy wheels, although they do have stability control, remote central locking and curtain airbags.

SE models come with all the essentials, and Sport models get bigger alloy wheels, high-intensity lights and racy aluminium cabin details.

ES models add extras such as cruise control, dual-zone climate control and a panoramic glass roof. The EX has sat-nav and rain-sensitive wipers.

The entry-level 88bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine offers reasonable performance as long as you're not in a rush, but it's not that common on the used market. The 138bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine is responsive and eager to rev, and provides decent pulling power.

The 2.2-litre diesel also has 138bhp, but almost twice as much pulling power, making it far more flexible to drive.

There is also a Type S version of the 1.8 petrol and 2.2 diesel, only available as a three-door, with sports suspension and a body kit.

The Type R version gets a screaming 2.0-litre petrol engine with 198bhp, and it's a close thing deciding whether this or the VW Golf GTI is best hot hatch on the used market.

Honda's i-Shift automatic gearbox lets you change gears manually does it for you in fully automatic mode. It's not the smoothest when charging gear, but Honda made the system much better in early 2008.

Trade view

A distinctive car with lots of unique features, but some owners find the design and layout awkward, so take a thorough test drive before you buy.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Servicing at a main dealer will be more expensive than it would be for a Ford Focus or VW Golf, but Honda dealers have a very good reputation for customer care. There are some independent specialists around if you fancy saving roughly 10% on your bills.

The 1.4-litre petrol model starts at insurance group four, but the 1.8-litre petrol sits in either group nine or 10, depending on trim. The diesels are either at 10 or 11, while the Type R attracts an expensive group 17 rating.

Not surprisingly, the diesels are the most efficient, with an average economy of around 54mpg. However, the small petrol models aren't that far behind, with the 1.4 giving an average of just under 50mpg.

The 1.8-litre motor provides between 44.1 and 42.8mpg and, on paper, the Type R gives 31mpg. However, in the real world, you'll get closer to 26mpg.

Trade view

Don't assume that you can only buy a used Civic from a franchised dealer. There are plenty at car supermarkets and independent specialists - and the savings are worthwhile.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The Honda Civic generally does very well in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey; however, there are a few complaints from owners.

Interior problems can blight certain cars, with squeaks and rattles reported. In some cases, dealers have been forced to refit the lower half of a dashboard.

The car's exterior also comes in for criticism, with condensation in the light clusters, items of trim working loose, and a fuel-filler cap that can refuse to open.

There has also been a number of recalls for the Civic concerning door handles, the rear suspension and faulty handbrake mechanisms.

The diesel engine can get through a litre of oil in less than 1000 miles, yet there's no warning light, so check the dipstick to make sure the oil level hasn't been neglected. If it has, there could be costly damage to the engine.

Trade view

A distinctive car with lots of unique features, but some owners find the design and layout awkward, so take a thorough test drive before you buy.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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