Honda Civic - All change

  • The Civic changes hands at Parkers
  • Left-field choice appeals to keen driver
  • Petrol engine may blend fun with frugality

I’m quite excited about getting the keys to our Civic. I’d long been a fan of this particular hatchback, and in this article I’ll tell you why.

When you’re looking at small family cars, the usual suspects are the Volkswagen Golf, the Ford Focus and the Vauxhall Astra. People often over-look the Civic, which seems a shame to me since it’s most certainly a credible alternative.

Probably the biggest problem for the Civic is its distinctive looks. The angular profile is something I admit I quite like – it’s nice to stand out from the crowd. It does shift the car a little into the left field, though.

One of the things I love about the Civic – and have done since the first generation – is the driving position. Not only are you seated fairly low in the car but the pedal, steering wheel and gear shift are perfectly positioned for comfortable driving. It’s a joy to be behind the wheel. It’s also ahead of most of its rivals in this respect, and anyone who enjoys driving will really appreciate it. Long journeys are also easier thanks to the ergonomic design of the cabin.

Although the steering lacks feedback and is quite light, the Civic does handle pretty well too. It doesn’t roll around too much through corners and feels nimble enough too.

Of course, there’s one particular thing which really does grate about the Civic’s design. It’s that rear windscreen, but we’ll deal with that on another update.

I’m going to find it interesting running a car with a 1.8-litre petrol engine. Until very recently I’d been doing a mammoth 130-mile each way commute to work every day, which meant I really suffered with fuel costs unless I had a car with a seriously long range. I’ve moved now, and my morning commute has dropped to just 5.3 miles. On first inspection this seems like the perfect journey length for a petrol-powered car – they’re often more efficient over shorter journeys than diesels.

Honda claims the average fuel economy should be 47.1mpg, so it’ll be interesting to see if I can get anywhere near that in the real world. CO2 emissions of 143g/km also mean it’s not totally out of the question as a company car, so I shall spend a bit of time investigating whether this is a model it’s worth choosing as a business vehicle.

My car is in ES specification, which means features such as dual-zone climate control, auto lights and wipers, cruise control, Bluetooth and a reversing camera are all standard fare. There are no optional extras fitted, and although that wouldn’t usually be an issue it’ll be interesting to see how I get on without a sat nav system. I frequently go to new places, so my sense of direction is bound to get a work-out.

Current mileage: 3,977 miles

Average mpg: 37.5mpg (ind.)