2002 Honda Civic S 1.4 petrol
Reliable, practical, trustworthy, dull
Knocking from front suspension - not traced, believe it is a common complaint.
Electric power steering is stiff in the straight ahead, and occasionally heavy when parking.
Anti-roll bar drop link for MoT in January 2012.
Other than that - nothing! Just tyres.
Bought this car in August 2011 for £1500. It looked really smart and had only 68k on the clock, but had little service history. However, a quick look through the old MoT's seemed to corroborate the mileage, and after a quick drive, there was no doubt in my mind it was completely genuine.
Well, all I can really say about the car is that it is totally functional and reliable in a very Japanese hatchback sort of a way. It's not a car with a lot of character, but it is a totally faithful machine. I have done 14,000 miles since I purchased the thing 16 months ago, and there has not even a murmur. It's almost boringly reliable and efficient. It's even more economical than a 1-litre Micra.
For a 1.4 of its time, it goes quite well and it's certainly not what you would term slow. It's nippy about town and actually performs at its best on the motorway between 60-80 mph; unusual for a small engine. It's also incredibly quiet, and the engine would be inaudible going up through the gears gently if it weren't for the slight gearbox whine. That said, there is a ton of wind and especially road noise when you are cruising, probably caused by the flat floor.
The car also has a nicely appointed interior, the dashboard is a paragon of logic and ergonomics, all the switches feel robust, and the seat fabric feels hard-wearing. The seats though aren't very supportive and give me terrible backache on a long journey. Recently I did an 800-mile round trip in the Honda - it never missed a beat, but Jesus was I cursing the car when I got back! There is an absolute ton of stowage in the car though, and some of the touches, like the cup-holders that push away to reveal a cubbyhole, make you love this car.
However there is a major flaw with these Hondas, and it's hard to ignore if you love cars as I do. No matter what people to say to you, for instance "never sell this car, it's the best car you've ever had" or "you'll never get anything as reliable as this again" - it's just boring, and you feel you have to dig your heels in and ignore them. Completely and totally boring. There isn't any enjoyment to be derived from driving it. I mean, it obviously isn't unpleasant, but it's so vague and understeer-y that you can't feel anything but frustration at constantly braking your hardest and gingerly fumbling your way round a tight bend in a mass of tyre squeal and understeer. My previous car was a 1998 Fiesta, and dynamically it was VASTLY superior to the Honda. There are pluses to the driving experience though; the ride is quite comfortable, and it will cruise all day at 80 without any fuss at all.
Maybe I'm being too critical of this car. I mean it is really practical for a small 3-door hatchback, and has a massive boot, loads of storage space, and despite its blandness, I suppose it looks quite neat when it's polished up. It's totally reliable, and to exemplify Honda's quality, is still on its original exhaust, front to back! It's not exciting and it doesn't handle well, but I'm loath to sell this car. I've thought about buying a classic as a daily driver, doing my own maintenance, but always in the end had to ask myself if all the temperamentality would ever be worth it. The answer is probably no. My advice: If you are after a reliable car and see one cheap, snap it up.
It truly is the Ken Barlow of cars!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 11th January, 2013