Motorcheck Used Car Guide: Honda Civic

Years built: 2012 to 2016
Bodystyles: Five-door hatchback, five-door estate

What is it?

With an all-new tenth generation Honda Civic about to go on sale, it seems like a good time to revisit the ninth in the Civic family tree, a car which has always been somewhat underrated compared to its rivals from Toyota, VW and Ford, but which is a hugely satisfying car to own and drive. Early models are becoming temptingly cheap now, while there are good deals on run-out and nearly new ones as Honda dealers look to clear stock.

Which one should I buy?

Honda Civic 1Essentially, the ninth Civic was a thorough reskin of the eighth-generation model, launched in 2006 and which was quite controversial at the time for its space-age styling and oddball double-deck rear end. The ninth Civic didn’t attempt to smooth out those lines — if anything, it made them even more in-your-face with bigger, chunkier wheelarches, a more pronounced double-deck rear end design which better integrated the huge tail lights and a more aggressive-looking front end. Pretty it’s not, striking it most certainly is and you will either love it or hate it.
Inside, the story is much the same. Lots of swoops, lines and shapes, but not a lot of coherence. You will, eventually get used to the odd dashboard layout, but it is a bit of a mess and quite jarring at first. It doesn’t help that the menu for the infotainment system and trip computer are oddly confusing, but later models partially sorted that with a new seven-inch central touchscreen running Android operating software which is quite slick and very useful.
Honda sort of dropped the ball with its petrol engines with this generation of Civic, sticking with the solidly reliable 1.4 and 1.8-litre units, which were sadly by this time getting rather out of date. Co2 emissions of 129g/km for the 1.4 aren’t too bad, but the 1.8 is a little worse off at 137g/km so tax isn’t cheap.
There’s much better news on the diesel front though, as Honda introduced its 1.6 iDTEC diesel with 120hp and just 94g/km of Co2. It’s an impressively frugal engine (60mpg is possible in daily driving, and it has set fuel economy records in the hands of professional drivers) yet it has lots of power and plenty of torque, making performance genuinely impressive.
The Civic is also good to drive. The cheap torsion bar rear suspension means that the ride quality is neither as smooth nor as quiet as it should be, but well-weighted steering and a grippy front end make the Civic rather more enjoyable than you might expect.
Honda Civic 4Its trump card is space. The hatchback has a big 477-litre boot, vastly more than you’ll find on offer in the likes of a Focus or Golf, while there’s good leg-and-head-room in the back seats. Those back seats either fold down flat, or flip up vertically like a cinema seat, making the Civic one of the best cars to bring on an IKEA run. The Civic Tourer estate, introduced in 2014, is even more spacious, with a 624-litre boot that trumps even the mighty Skoda Octavia Combi.
How much should I spend? Circa €11,000 will get you a 2012 1.4 petrol, while €15k will get you a 2014 1.6 iDTEC diesel.
Here’s one we found:
2014 Honda Civic 1.6 iDTEC ES, 41,000km, one owner, €15,975 from a franchised dealer.

What goes wrong?

Honda Civic 2Precious little, although the Civic doesn’t quite live up to Honda’s reputation for faultless reliability. The engines are all solid as oak, it must be said, although there have been some reports of cars needing software updates to cure rough running or mysterious drops in power. The front suspension bushes can be vulnerable too, so listen carefully for any untoward knocks to grumblings from un-derneath.
There are two areas where the Civic falls down though, and that’s in cabin quality and body fit and finish. Many owners have complained about ill-fitting door panels and cheap paintwork that shows up stone chips too easily, while the interior can develop creaks and groans from behind the dash-board. Nothing that will stop the car moving, but irritating stuff from a car maker so famed for its reliability.

Anything else?

Honda Civic 5You could, of course, treat yourself to a Civic Type-R. Launched in 2015 as a swansong for the current Civic, the Type-R arrived with a bodykit more aggressive than Godzilla on a bad day, and a 315hp turbo 2.0-litre engine that brings new meaning to the phrase ‘explosive.’ It’s honestly one of the very quickest road cars you can buy, tremendous fun to drive and almost, almost refined enough to live with day to day. A future collectors’ item.
And when you’ve found your perfect Civic don’t forget to get it history checked by