The Honda has so far been a joy to own, and is probably the first car I have owned (particularly bearing in mind its modest £14,100 OTR price at which I purchased) that has attracted this much attention.
Even before opting for the top-of-the-range Executive specification, I was overwhelmed by the amount of standard features in this car. A great deal of thought has clearly gone into the design; understated yet extremely practical touches really enhance the appeal of the car.
For example, the driveshaft is positioned differently to most so that there is no rear footwell; this is a huge benefit when there are three people in the back.
As for the space in the back; simply phenomenal! Although at 5'4 I drive with my seat almost as far forwards as the rails allow, there is still a huge amount of rear legroom even when the front seats are positioned further back. The boot space is more than ample for this type of vehicle; there has not been a problem with fitting any item in yet!
The level of comfort is faultless too, and in Executive guise Honda has opted for full leather seats, which cosset you as a driver, and relax you as a passenger. The front seats are also heated, and are easily turned on/off using individual push buttons between the front seats. Again, these are standard on the Executive model, and are heat up quickly and constantly, however I could see that the heat might be almost too intense for some.
As for the usual other components one would probably take into consideration buying a car of this type, there are very few elements overlooked by Honda. Anti-lock Brakes (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), all-round airbags (dual front and dual side), all-round electric windows, climate control and a good quality CD player are all standard fit. While I was deciding which vehicle of this class to buy, I found that no other car could come even near to this level of equipment at such a low price. There is even a fully electric sunroof, which almost no other manufacturer will fit on a car that has climate control or A/C as standard.
The exterior of the car is equally impressive. The vehicle's wedge-shaped front has a real presence, especially in the Midnight Black paint I opted for. The back is admittedly less beautiful than the front, though it is still sensible and in proportion. I am obsessive about keeping it clean, and routine maintenance & washing has been easy to carry out. A thorough wash and polish leaves the car with a deep lustrous shine; this is not the case with many cars that I have had, as they have not had such high-quality paintwork. The 15" alloy wheels, again standard, help to give the car a prestigious, almost sporty look. They are not disgustingly chromed like some, instead they are appealing, but functional. I have found them to be easy to clean too, again something that I have not always encountered; the surface of the wheels seems to repel brake dust and so is very easy to remove with a sponge and normal car shampoo.
On the road, the Honda is highly agile, and feels far smaller when driving than its interior spaciousness would suggest. The manual gear-lever is mounted on the dashboard, and although this might seem peculiar is actually very effective. The progression between gears is faultless, although one criticism is that the car does not idle well in a queue of traffic; sometimes it is hard to decide whether to use first or second gear. That said, the gears have been otherwise sensibly chosen, and on the motorway at 60mph the Civic still has a great deal of acceleration even in fifth gear. At the motorway limit the vehicle remains quiet and refined, and again still has the ability to accelerate when necessary. At 90mph, the car still feels completely safe, and the cabin relatively quiet.
If the brakes are needed, they are most certainly there. It seems one could merely breathe on the brake pedal to stop the car, and although this takes some time to adapt to, it has proven to be exceptionally useful; the brakes can be applied with an incredible force to slow the car and it will not start to turn or lock-up in any way.
On more winding roads the car handles surprisingly well, this could be due to the sensible choice of good-quality tyres that were supplied on delivery of the car. Overtaking on major roads is never a problem, and most of the time changing down is not necessary, as there is enough torque in almost any gear.
As for fuel economy, the Civic is currently averaging around 40.5mpg, which I consider to be above average taking into account that I rarely have the need to drive on faster roads. With the climate control switched on, the fuel consumption increases noticeably, however the system is very effective, and the car can be cooled within 5 minutes even on a hot day.
The Civic really has proven to be a wonderful car so far; it is a joy to look at, a joy to be a passenger in, and most importantly, a joy to own and drive.