Honda Civic 1.8 Automatic review
For 2009 Honda refreshed their British built Civ ic three and five-door hatchback range not knowing that the Swindon factory would going into mothballs for four months following the steep fall in new car sales.
Rather than build, then stockpile cars, Honda ceased production all together and cut their workforce and sent most of the remainder home on a reduced pay rate.
As of 1 June Civic production, and CR-Vs, roars back into life following the enforced break.
The latest Civics have refreshed minor styling changes and is very much focussed on families and 'young-at-heart' customers. A significant number of older buyers still remain faithful to the Civic and Honda because of the build quality and reliability factors.
The Type S will appeal to a younger customer base with sportier features that make it look even more like the Type R, but also sensible ownership costs that are lighter on the pocket.
The current Civic, launched in 2006, was heralded a breakthrough in design for Honda, no more safe rounded, bland, typically Japanese volume car styling.
The new Civic came with an edgy design, stealth type angular panels mixed with sharp lines and yet still managing to bring an aerodynamic coupe theme to the car. Inside the dashboard looks like something from the Starship Enterprise - space age for sure.
Since its launch the daringly styled Civic has been either loved or loathed, fortunately more people seem to like it than not but it took me a while to see its potential. Would it date more quickly?
The coupe styling restricts rear passenger's headroom and a confusing and not easy to read instrument panel were just some of the doubting comments.
Life goes on and the latest Civic range for 2009 gets a frugal new 1.4-litre i-VTEC, 100PS, petrol engine which offers 47.9mpg with CO2 emissions of 135g/km. Ideal for downsizers and I know this unit, taken from the latest Jazz models, is fuel efficient in real-life. There is also a 6-speed i-Shift automated manual transmission to go with this engine as an option.
The 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrol and 2.2-litre i-CTDi diesel engines are retained and a conventional 5-speed, torque converter automatic transmission is introduced for 1.8-litre petrol models.
To coincide with the back-into-production period of the latest Honda Civics I got my hands on the 1.8 i-VTEC ES GT 5-Door model with the new 5-speed automatic transmission. The price of the car is a very hefty £19,827, which includes metallic paint.
Given that the cheapest five-door Civic with this engine starts at a little over £15,000, the addition of the auto box, the ES and GT specification levels and the price is steep.
The facts are the Civic has to compete against the superb new VW Golf, the high selling Ford Focus and the budget but excellent Kia Cee'd/Hyundai i30 ranges, to name just three of many competitors.
However the Civic offers good build quality and all models have a high level of specification. My test version has the 5-speed auto box which makes life driving in town or up and down motorways much easier but harms the acceleration performance on country A roads where getting past slower traffic quickly and safely is a priority.
Other items of kit and equipment of note included, 17-inch alloy wheels, 60/40 split fold flat rear seats, cruise control, central locking, digital information displays, drilled aluminium sports pedals, dual zone climate control, engine start button, panoramic glass sunroof, rain sensing wipers, sophisticated sound system, voice recognition satellite navigation with integrated Bluetooth system and of course vehicle stability assist.
There were many more items of specification, I will not bore you with them except to say this Civic was 'fully kitted' and probably did justice to the high price. It would have been nice to have a wash/wiper system for the rear tailgate.
Visibility from the Civic hatchback is not great, front or rear and having said the build quality was good I have to add there were a few rattles, mainly from the tailgate region, certainly unusual for a Honda.
Honda Civic MILESTONES
Honda Civic 1.8 i-VTEC ES GT 5-Door Automatic
Engine/transmission: 1.8-litre, four cylinder, variable valve timing, 140PS, 174Nm of torque from 4,300rpm, electronically controlled 5-speed, torque converter automatic gearbox
Performance: 122mph, 0-62mph 11 seconds, 38.7mpg (33.6mpg actual), CO2 169g/km, VED Band H £175, BIK tax 19%
Boot capacity: 485-1,326-litres
For: Built in Britain, sharp distinctive styling inside and out, precise handling, high level of equipment, large boot, fold up or fold flat rear seats
Against: Jittery ride - hard at times over poorer road surfaces, coupe styling limited rear headroom, rear passenger leg room not the best in this class, limited front and rear visibility, a few interior panel rattles