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Car reviews - Honda - Civic - Breeze 3-dr hatch

Our Opinion

We like
Styling, comfort, image, handling
Room for improvement
Spartan interior, no auto option, still a little too noisy for some

9 May 2003

THE Honda Civic is one of those small Japanese cars that has grown and grown over the years.

The original Civic, released in 1972, was a true mini car, providing basic transport for four people at a squeeze, and costing little in day-to-day running costs.

In contrast, this Civic is a grown-up car, like a teenager who has matured into a sophisticated, confident young adult.

The modern Civic combines the excellence of Honda engineering with a striking, aerodynamically efficient body shape which is quite different to its rivals.

Competing in the entry level segment of the market which appeals to young singles and couples looking for a low price and economy of operation, its competitors are mainly Japanese.

The Civic appeals to buyers looking for a little extra in the way of quality and innovative design.

The 1993 three-door hatch Breeze is powered by a 1.5-litre, single overhead cam, 16-valve engine fitted with two large diameter constant velocity carburettors, driving the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. Auto is not available.

The engine is mounted transversely in the frame, supported by a five-point mounting system to reduce vibration. A hydraulic side engine mount is used to further improve smoothness.

Suspension is independent all round by double wishbones and coil springs, with co-axial gas-filled shock absorbers. Long suspension travel provides a comfortable ride without sacrificing the firm, sporty character of the Civic.

Steering is power-assisted rack and pinion and the brakes are ventilated discs at the front and drums at the rear, servo assisted. The wheels are 14 x 5-inch with 175/65 R14 tyres.

The styling of the Civic is unusual and eye-catching. A wide track, low bonnet line, steeply raked windscreen and long roof are combined with smooth panels to give an efficient, aerodynamic and pleasing shape.

A feature of the body design is the rear hatch, which is constructed in two parts.

The top section flips up to allow loading of small or light items while the lower section folds down to provide a shelf for loading heavier articles or as a picnic platform.

Interior room is comfortable for four adults, the wide track design reducing intrusion of the wheel arches into the passenger area.

The front seats are wide, comfortably padded and provide good support.

The rear seat backs are split 50/50 so they can be folded down separately or together to provide extra length luggage space.

The dash features speedo, tachometer and other gauges in a binnacle, with other controls conveniently grouped together.

The Breeze's road manners are excellent with the smooth 1.5-litre engine providing good torque for acceleration for the light (970kg) car.

The suspension provides a firm, sporty ride without being harsh or choppy.

Vigorous cornering will produce mild understeer, easily controlled by lifting off the accelerator.

The ventilated disc brakes are up to the job with light and progressive pedal feel.

Servicing and repairs for Hondas can be more costly than for the average car in the class. But quality is good and the likelihood of untoward repairs is low.

The Honda Civic appeals to the more sophisticated buyer who is attracted to different styling and Honda's reputation for engineering excellence.

It offers a high standard of finish, reliability and driver satisfaction. A drawback for city buyers may be the lack of an automatic transmission.

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