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

Our Opinion

We like
Almost everything - performance, dynamics, comfort, safety, refinement, packaging, economy and resale values all shine. The EK Civic CXi is a complete small car.
Room for improvement
Maybe the styling is a little too dull for some. Spare parts can be costly.

Honda logo18 Jun 2003

By MALCOLM LIVERMORE

HONDA has won over many customers with the Civic's combination of practicality, quality and style.

Over 10 million have been sold around the world since the nameplate was launched in 1972. This also makes it Honda's longest-selling passenger car, so it has certainly stood the test of time.

October, 1995, marked the launch of the sixth generation Civic which introduced some significant improvements over previous models, particularly in the safety, suspension and noise reduction areas.

The body structure is much stronger so the Civic can pass the various front, side and rear crash tests.

The model line-up included hatchbacks, sedans and coupes, all sharing a common chassis and suspension platform.

The CXi three-door hatchback replaced the Breeze as the entry into the Civic range so an attractive price was paramount in this ultra-competitive sector of the market.

This means the equipment level is adequate rather than generous and luxuries are saved for the upmarket models.

There is power steering, a driver airbag, reasonable sound system and an anti-theft engine immobiliser while air-conditioning was available as an extra cost option.

The styling is more low-key and conservative than the fifth generation Civic but much more practical and it still looks good in an understated way.

The higher roof and longer wheelbase liberated more interior space which makes life much more comfortable for the rear seat passengers.

There is enough room left for a decent sized luggage space behind the split fold rear seats. Access to the rear is via a one-piece hatch door which replaced the difficult to use two-piece affair on the superseded car.

The CXi has an all-aluminium, 1.6-litre engine with a single overhead camshaft and multi-point fuel-injection. This engine manages to combine good fuel economy with a very respectable power output of 88kW at 6400rpm with 144Nm of torque at 5000rpm.

Transmissions are a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic with electronic control and a fuel saving locking torque converter.

Honda made a big effort to improve the Civic's ride comfort and reduce the level of road and tyre noise in cabin. The result is a much quieter car with a compliant suspension.

The ride comfort is up near the top of the class without compromising handling ability. The trade-off is slightly more body roll but overall it is a much nicer car to drive.

The market's perception of the Civic as a high quality, well engineered car with a good reliability record has kept prices for used examples firm.

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