Review: Honda Civic

Great all-round appeal

03 Feb 16 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Great road handling

  • Good range of engines

  • A lot of standard equipment

Cons

  • Limited cabin space

  • Can be loud

  • Firm and uncomfortable ride

Our expert rating

The Honda Civic is a small hatchback that has been around since 1972. It has gone through many generational alterations, becoming both bigger and more upmarket. The eighth-generation Civic (2006-2012) was built in the UK and brought the most significant change in the range for years.

Performance

The pick of the Honda Civic eight generation range is the powerful and economical 2.2 i-CTDi SE diesel. It can be a tad loud but the performance of the engine is brilliant. As well as picking up pace well, it will also do around 55 mpg

Red Honda Civic on the road

Ride and handling

All Honda Civics have good handling and road holding, with little body lean when cornering. On the other hand, the steering does not offer quite the same “connected” experience as, for example, a Ford Focus. It feels a little woolly at times.

The firm ride of the Honda Civic can be uncomfortable on many road surfaces, too.

Interior space

Cabin space is not the Honda Civic’s strongest area. Headroom is limited and, while front occupants are pretty well looked after in terms of comfort and leg space, rear legroom is not exceptional. Visibility out of the narrow rear window isn’t that good either.

However, the car does have a large, easily accessible load area. Furthermore, Honda’s clever rear seats (labelled by the manufacturer as “Magic” seats) fold flat without difficulty.

Also, the boot opening is broad and near to the ground, so the Civic is a really decent load-lugger.

Honda Civic interior

What to know before you buy

Honda has a time-honoured name for dependability, and the Civic is, on the whole, a reliable car. There have been a few issues with the eighth generation 2006-2012 version, though. It has been recalled for problems including brake pedal travel and self-releasing parking brakes, as well as for short-circuiting electrics.

Additionally, there have been gremlins with the diesel engine, including extreme oil consumption and faulty oil level sensors. All the restorative work should have been sorted on secondhand models, but it is worth double checking so you’re 100 per cent certain.

If there is no evidence that the Civic has had the work carried out, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) publishes information of all safety recalls.

Honda Civic side view

The other things to keep an eye out for when looking around a used Civic is moisture build-up in headlights and tail-lights, as well as loose-fitting trim. In particular, the headlining can rattle on the 2006 Civic, the one with a fitted panoramic sun roof. Honda dealers have been aware of this problem for years and can easily put it right.

Honda servicing costs are quite good too so if you encounter any of these issues, it will be easy on the pocket.

Alternative cars

As mentioned, the Ford Focus is more entertaining to drive. The same can be said about the Volkswagen Golf, although it is pricier. Other rivals worth checking out on the used-car market are the Mazda 3 and Vauxhall Astra.

Alternative vehicle, volkswagen golf and vauxhall astra

Overall verdict

The eighth generation Honda Civic has great all-round appeal. It has an individual design, both in the cabin and outside, admirable engines and the car comes loaded with kit as standard. It's not as thrilling to drive as some challengers and rear seat room is not the best.

If these are not issues for you, then the Honda Civic makes a cracking secondhand buy. 

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall