Honda hatch a dependable choice
The 2000-2006 Honda Civic hatch models might not be head-turners, but they’re a great option for older drivers. Dave Moore reports.
You expect reliability from a Honda, they’re always near or at the top of dependability polls and positive warranty ratings, and the five-door Civic introduced in 2000 is one of the best. It’s a pretty ordinary-looking car, but its plain styling covers a cabin volume that has not been equalled – even by Honda – since this model was discontinued in 2006. A good number of these cars were sold as New Zealand new models, but in an era when safety was neither as sexy nor saleable as it is now, Honda did not offer even anti-lock-braking system (ABS) in the base models, and stability control was not available in any version. On the Japanese market, 1.4-litre, 1.5-litre and 1.7-litre versions were available, with five-speed manual and four-speed automatic options. The British market had 2.0-litre and Type-R versions. All versions had air- conditioning and all except the top-end leather-clad models were fitted with soft grey or beige velours or charcoalcoloured corded twill. Towards the end of its career in New Zealand the Civic five-door was run out with higher trim levels and a very tidy facelift, and this model VXi is the most desirable.
Massively more effective as a C-segment hatch for space and practicality, leaving the Astra, Corolla, Focus and Mazda 323 for dead in terms of accommodating five adults. The model outscored every other model in the 2005 UK What Car? reliability surveys, and good showings in JD Power satisfaction polls are more evidence that the car is bolted together well.
Best to buy
If you’re going to load the Civic to its maximum, the 1.7-litre engine is the better choice, though the Japanese-market 1.5s are quite useful at lighter work.
If you’re tempted by the super quick Type-R model, you must have it professionally checked as it is a highly-stressed engine that requires regular servicing to give of its best. If it has no history,
walk away from the car.
No serious problems are likely from the 1.5 and 1.7 motors which are bullet-proof units that seldom require more than regular servicing, but if they’re getting to 100,000km they really must have a cambelt change and you can use this as a condition of sale if you’re sensible. The big cabin did exacerbate road noise from the car, but this can be eased by fitting replacement tyres designed for New Zealand conditions.
You’ll have to live with
That road-noise, and the fact that the car is seen as something of a pipe and slippers prospect which means it’s hardly a head-turning car, but don’t let this put you off.
What to pay
A 1.7 circa 2004 with 75,000km on the clock can ask about $9000, but we’ve seen Trade Me entries from as little as $5000, but with much higher mileage. A run-out NZ-new 2005 model has been listed at $12,000, with fewer than 40,000km on the odometer.
What do they cost to run?
Because it’s bought and used by older drivers, insurance is reasonable. We managed better than 6.4L/100km on test with the original 1.7-litre car in manual form although we’d add another litre and a half to that for the automatic.
Some British-sourced 2.0-litre S models have made their way to New Zealand. If you see one, it shouldn’t be ignored.
Trusty option: The original 1972 Honda Civic. The Honda Civic is a pretty common sight on New Zealand roads for good reason.