The car represented great value for money when I purchased in the start of 2007. It was the only 5spd automatic sedan available in its segment, and boasted many other refinements and features such as cruise control, ABS brakes and full power windows.
Initial impressions were the main reasons for choosing the Civic. The car had an interior which had a "quality feel", with "soft touch" dashboard and doors, which was something that other cars of the time such as the corolla, Tiida, 307 and other small segment cars lacked. The levels of trim and equipment of the base model Vti was also impressive. Where other manufacturers would cut costs by removing overhead grab handles, map lights and storage bins, the Civic Vti remained fully equipped and well trimmed.
The 1.8 i-vtec is also quite capable as a performer when hooked-up with the 5 speed auto. Its brilliant, responsive, high-revving nature means that it accelerates reasonably. However, the lack of torque makes the car feel lethargic with passengers on-board or when taking off at the lights from a gradient.
Cruising on the highway is probably the best feature of the Civic. The extra 5th ratio translates to an ultra quite humm with a low rev range of 1900rpm at 100kph. After driving several other automatic compacts including the Tiida, Corolla, 307, Yaris and previous model Civic, because of the extra 5th gear, it feels more like a larger car at higher speeds.
The Civic Vti, in my brief nine months of ownership, has handled conventional suburban roads with reasonable ease. I have to say that I agree with the other reviewers who comment that the Civics tyres are loud over rougher roads, however, aside from the tyre noise, the car is well insulated and has a relatively quite interior.
The car does also have a great deal of body roll (meaning that it flops into corners when cornered hard), but you'll need to push the car relatively hard to notice this. You'll also find far better handling compacts out there, including the new late 2007/2008 Corolla or the Ford Focus, but with that said, I think the Civic is still a relatively competent handler.
Styling and Design:
The design of the new Civic Vti sedan can, perhaps, be seen as practical and conventional rather than sporty. It has hints of an ambition of sportiness through its low front end and high rear waistline (where the windows meet that body work), nevertheless, its pushed forward front pillars, ultra large windscreen and quirky, yet, massive rear-view mirrors define its practical intentions. It certainly looks different from most old-style 90s sedans. Futuristic at best. But at my work car park, its design is easily lost with the plethora of other conventional A-B transporters.
Interior and Space:
The interior is where the new styling takes full advantage. Because of the stretched wheel span and extended front pillars the interior feels massive. The interior is well executed with the new two-teared instrumentation, which is easily legible. The plastic trim and fabric also gives a high quality impression. Unfortunately on my car it was only a mere first impression and the quality hasn't worn as well as it should have, with the vinyl on the doors starting to warp and peel. The seat trim as luxurious as it appears has also started to wear and stain relatively easily with the light rubbing of elbow grease.
Summary and Running Costs:
As the car is still relatively new and has only traveled a mere 7600kms, there hasn't been any real maintenance costs apart from fortnightly refueling. It's definitely a frugal car for its size, and although I haven't had the time to measure its fuel use, I have reason to believe the manufacturer's claims of 6.9L - 7.5L/100kms.
This is the second Civic that I have owned the previous being an early EG 1995 Gli sedan. Civics during the 70s to the early 90s used to be revolutionary compact cars that impressed with quality, features and ideas that were unheard of in the compact segment. This Civic is a far cry from the 13 year old lady that I use to own. But in 2008 this Civic fails to impress over the other rival manufacturers, like my old Civic use to do back in her day.
P.S. If I had it over again, I would have perhaps chosen a Mazda 3 or waited 4 months for the current 2007/2008 Corolla.