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Used Honda Civic review

A full used car buyer’s guide on the Honda Civic covering the Mk8 (2005-2011) and the Mk9 (2011-2015)

Honda Civic Mk8

The eighth-generation Honda Civic still stands out from the crowd. It’s very practical, with a novel cinema-style rear seat, big boot and well proportioned cabin. And as long as you avoid entry-level models, it’s generously equipped as standard.

Not so impressive is the fact that, within a couple of years of launch, this Civic had suffered a number of problems. Early cars weren’t as reliable as you expect from Honda. Things did improve, and as the Mk9 arrived in 2011 and Mk10 in 2015, used prices for the Mk8 now look more tempting than ever. Here’s what to look out for when buying.

History

Five-door Civic hatch arrived in September 2005, with a choice of 1.4 or 1.8-litre petrol engines, or a 2.2 i-CTDi diesel. In January 2006, the IMA hybrid launched, as a four-door only, while the three-door Type S followed a year later. This was available with 1.8 petrol or 2.2 diesel power, each with the option of a high-spec GT trim.

In March 2007, Honda brought out the Type R hot hatch, in three-door guise only. Then the range was refreshed in autumn 2009. The update brought mildly revised styling, as well as a new, more efficient 1.4-litre i-VTEC petrol engine and improvements to the i-Shift semi-automatic box. A high-spec Civic Si was also introduced.

Honda Civic Mk8 reviews

Honda Civic 1.4 i-VTEC SE review Honda Civic 1.8 i-VTEC Ti reviewHonda Civic 1.8 i-VTEC Si review

What to look for

• Interiors can look quite worn, so check everywhere for scuffs. The paint can also age badly.• Windscreen glass forms part of the car’s structure, so be sure to examine it thoroughly for cracks.• Be wary of older, low-mileage diesel Civics. Clutch failure within only 30,000 miles is quite common.

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If you’re thinking about a Civic as your family car, bear in mind that access to the rear is awkward and that small windows can make the back seats feel claustrophobic.

Buyers considering models with the i-Shift auto box should also try one first – it can be quite jerky.

All engines are fine, but the 1.4 can feel breathless on motorways. And go for at least SE trim, as the entry-level S doesn’t have air-con.

There’s only one Civic for keen drivers: the Type R. It’s great fun, but the ride is very hard, to the point of being uncomfortable.

Alternatives to the Civic Mk8

Buyers wanting a reliable car who aren’t so fussed about a fun driving experience should take a look at the Toyota Auris. But if you prefer something more involving to drive, the Ford Focus should be on your shortlist. The VW Golf is also worth a look for the same reason, if you can afford it.

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Another alternative is the Mazda 3, which shares running gear with the Focus. The 3 is less common than its rivals second-hand, as are Mazda dealers, so you’ll have to search hard.

Recalls

Given Honda’s reputation for reliability, it’s surprising that the Civic has been recalled 10 times. So check all necessary work has been done. The earliest cars are the most likely to have been recalled, with potential issues focusing on engine stalling, steering system power assistance being lost and handbrake failures.

Other possible problems centre on faulty brake pedals, wiring short circuits (on the Type R) and gear selectors getting stuck in Park mode (on the IMA hybrid).

Check out the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) website for up-to-date recall information.

Verdict

The Mk8 Civic was crowned Best Compact Family Car in the Auto Express New Car Awards 2006, and we said at the time that it couldn’t be beaten in terms of all-round appeal. It has distinctive design inside and out, excellent engines and is well equipped and packaged. Due to the basic design of its rear suspension, the car isn’t as accomplished to drive as some rivals, while visibility and rear seat access aren’t great. But if these things aren’t priorities, the Honda might be your ideal car.

 

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