Exterior Design *
Judging from the concept sketches, Honda decided to transform its plain vanilla Civic into a sleek and sophisticated one-box. It works perfectly — on the coupe. Here, the SUV snout graft and xTreme window rake look as appropriate as a middle-aged WASP dancing to Kylie Minogue.
Interior Design *****/*
It s a split decision. If you grew up playing Gran Turismo, you re gonna love what they did with this car. If you ve ever played Parcheesi, it ll be like wandering into a rave (that s a dance party where young people consume 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine).
You d be looking at two more stars if the rest of the package wasn t aimed squarely at the lunatic fringe. While the Civic s got more than enough oomph for a high mileage shopping trolley, there s nowhere near enough stompage to fully exploit the car s excellent chassis, handling and brakes. Passing power is minimal.
Our EX tester is the only model with discs all round. If you re planning on thrashing this wee beastie, accept nothing less. So equipped, the Civic s stoppers have predictable feel and flypaper power.
Although the Civic s chassis has a fairly high sleep number, props to Honda for creating a mass market motor with such a smooth and confident ride.
For those of you longing for a sharp-handling Civic, it s baaaaack. Not only is the steering as direct as a Truth About Cars editorial, but the chassis stays flat and level through the most tortuous twisties. Credit goes to the longer wheelbase, reactive-link double wishbone rear suspension and larger wheels and tires. Fun goes to you.
Our tester s five-speed autobox swapped cogs with all the finesses of an Olympic relay team, but the drive-by-wire throttle mistook the slightest input for a starter s gun.
The stereo system found in the lower-priced Civics is a design delight. The EX sat nav audio CD MP3 WMA iPod XM voice recognition back-up camera system looks like an aftermarket bolt-in, with the usual miniscule over-buttonification. The sound quality is excellent, but I reckon it s better to look good than sound good (if you have to choose).
Honda sure missed a trick here. The cabin s videogame ambience invited all manner of cool e-gear: switchable digital display (distance to nearest Starbucks?), iPod video interface, color change options, etc. What you get is as above: the best of what there is, but nothing more.
The Civic s boot offers a huge amount of room for its class, trunk trumping its rivals by a fair margin.
[by Robert Farago]
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Honda Civic, Part 1 [internal]