The result is a smooth engine that has sufficient torque and tractability to be short-shifted for easy and relaxed driving, or alternatively, revved to the redline. In either case its an unfussed, refined and effective engine. However, it should be said that its still a relatively small engine for the size of the car so if you pile in the people and/or luggage, youll need to use the gearbox and the available rev range. On-road response is enhanced by the use of short gearing at 100 km/h the engine is spinning at about 3000 rpm in fifth gear. About the only engine glitch is a jerk which occurs when throttle is re-applied in fifth gear this especially noticeable when the cruise control is operating and there are hills and valleys to negotiate.
In a time of almost universal use of semi-independent twist beam rear suspension designs in cars of this class, the Civics sophisticated double wishbone rear suspension is another surprise. Its teamed with a traditional MacPherson strut front suspension - and the result is pretty damned good.
The ride is excellent although it varies a little with how many occupants are in the car. With some loads, the Civic can develop an odd bobbing motion on concrete freeways, but in all other conditions including bumpy secondary back roads and urban bitumen patches and filler strips there are no problems. Thats partly helped by the relatively tall profile tyres. In fact, looking at the 195/65 tyres worn on 15 inch steel rims on this base model you could assume that the handling will be plough understeer. But thats far from the truth. The front-end of the Civic grips and grips and then when it does let go, the understeer is mild and easily controlled with the right foot. A slight throttle lift will tuck the nose back in or of youre really going for it, you can abruptly get off the power and gently slide the car into oversteer. Few people will want to do that: for the majority, the Civics handling can be characterised as being safe and grippy.
However, the steering is not the same good news story. Using traditional hydraulic power assistance, the steering is overly light and lacks feel. A driver new to the Civic will invariably swing on too much lock and then have to unwind it while they feel their way into the corner. Its the only dynamic shortcoming and so is even more obvious for that.
Inside the cabin youll find a welcoming and roomy space. Unlike some much more expensive European cars weve recently sampled, the Civic shows thoughtful, well executed design. The door pockets all four of them are large; there are compartments everywhere in the dash and centre console; and the seats newly designed for this model are wide, comfortable and supportive. However, if youre a driver of just the right (wrong) size, your left knee will annoyingly touch the handbrake lever rather than the smooth side of the console.
The steering wheel is height- and reach-adjustable and the drivers seat is height adjustable.