This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Honda Civic Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

A host of petrol units, ranging from 1.4 to 1.8 litres have found homes in this generation of Civic. All offer impressive power for their sizes, but need to be revved to deliver performance, because of the variable valve timing system (VVT-i) used on many of them. This is generally not a problem as they're very smooth but can take a little getting used to.

1.6 and 1.8 VTi units in particular are scorching performers with a red line set at around 8000rpm. Manual gearboxes are slick to use too. A Rover sourced 2.0 litre turbo diesel was available from May 1997.

Generally agile and responsive handling, particularly on sporty VTi models. Progressive power-delivery of high-revving engines helps it to remain composed even when driven hard. Behaves safely and inspires confidence in the driver.