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2006 Honda Civic: improving, but not quite there yet

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | January 16th, 2006

In the past, I had never been excited about any Honda Civic. While good and reliable, they have never been very exciting. Until now.

The 2006 Civic has arrived, and it looks great, inside and out. I bet the guy who designed the outside was a supercar nut, particularly a fan of the Lamborghini Diablo. After all, look at the size of the windshield, and look at how the rear haunches are flared out. These details are very supercar-ish. I like the way it looks.

I like the way the interior looks too; it has a really funky look to it. Original thinking was obviously applied to the dash design, since it looks like nothing else on the planet. It has a two-tier design, with an analog rev-counter and a digital speedometer. Since the speedometer is placed on top of the dash, it acts like a heads-up display unit. Good thinking on that one, because this new Civic is a bit on the quick side too.

In the past the Civic had been really outclassed because it only had 115 hp. The new 1.8 litre, four cylinder engine has a much more respectable 140 hp, but the truth is it feels like it has a lot more. This car is very quick and I loved the way the engine revved up.

However, I would like to point out that the manual gearbox isn't very good. I kept having trouble with third gear, and I also didn't like the feel of the clutch. Hopefully, the gearbox issue was a one-off problem with my press car.

Other things I don't like about this car include the very cheap build quality, which includes the wafer-thin sound insulation. I just get this feeling that Honda could have made this car a lot better, but they held themselves back to save money. Shame really, since it's these little details (which also include the single fold-down instead of split-folding rear seat, and the trunk having those ancient c-hinges which go into the boot as you close it) that put me off this car. I really thought this would beat the Mazda3 as the best small car, but in my view it doesn't.

The Honda doesn't have the quality of the Mazda neither does it have the technology (no auto headlights or auto windshield wipers here). So, while the design is great, there is room for improvements in other areas.

But regardless of all its foibles this is still a good daily driver, and it is very fuel-efficient. Couple its strong points with Honda's typical reliability record, and it is a good car to buy, especially at the starting price of $16,800.

If you want a sporty two-door coupe, Honda will sell you a Civic coupe too.

So if you are in the market for a small car, there is probably a Civic that's right for you.
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