Honda Civic - Another point of view

  • Staff writer borrows the Honda Civic
  • Finds it to be a very capable car
  • Rear visibility one of few complaints

Parkers Consumer Journalist Lewis Kingston and I swapped cars over Christmas, and his Civic proved to be a great companion.

I must admit that I wasn’t bowled over initially from behind the wheel. The array of lights and graphics across the instrument display felt a little like being trapped inside a ’90s hi-fi and the dashboard, with its angular surfaces bumping into each other, looked as if it might have been involved in a crash before leaving the factory.

After a mile or two, however, you appreciate the layout and it all makes sense. It’s nice to have an interior that looks a little more interesting than the hatchback norm after all, and all the controls are well positioned and easy to use.

Well, almost all of them. Stopping at a petrol station for the first time found me hunting around haplessly for the fuel filler cap release lever. Having searched in all the obvious places I eventually discovered it in the shadows under the dashboard in the footwell, out of sight of the driver and directly above the identically shaped bonnet release pull which I’d already located and discounted.

Assuming you’ve managed to put fuel in it, the Civic is a genuinely nice car to drive. Although it’s not the most exciting experience in the world, it’s well balanced and the short-throw gearshift is a pleasure to use. The pedals are well weighted and grippy too, helping prevent winter mush-covered shoes slipping off.

Rear vision is one of the few niggles. As mentioned in the main review, the Civic’s split rear screen makes seeing what's behind you tricky at the best of times. On winter roads covered with grime the situation quickly becomes worse as the lower section of the screen doesn’t have a wiper.

You can find yourself relying almost totally on the door mirrors, which are excellent, but if these or the side windows get dirty too, then the low winter sun means your rear view can become totally obscured. That's not ideal.

The Civic’s front seats are sporty-looking items that look great and feel supportive over short distances, although I struggled to get comfortable over long journeys. This is partly down to the fiddly nature of the lever used to adjust the backrest angle. Its all-or-nothing action makes it tricky to adjust the seat in small amounts, especially if you try and use it while on the move.

Overall though, I returned the Civic to the Parkers car park as a firm fan. Its 1.8-litre petrol engine is very smooth, it has plenty of space for people and luggage and it’s decent to drive.

I’d happily borrow it again.

Current mileage: 4,877 miles

Average mpg: 38.1mpg (ind.)