IT IS rare these days for a car to come along which is not only radically different from its predecessor, but also poles apart from its rivals.
The Honda Civic is one such rarity, morphing from blobby and nondescript into funky and cutting-edge.
All of which is well and good, but none of this matters a jot in a market as fleet-centric as the lower-medium sector if the car doesn’t stack-up financially.
After six months and 14,000 miles with our Civic, an EX spec diesel five-door, we’ve been impressed not just with how this car is altering people’s perceptions of Honda, but also how it performs cost-wise.
Much of this is helped by the Civic’s strong residual value proposition, which translates into low monthly rentals and competitive running costs.
CAP estimates our car will retain 39% of its cost new after three years and 60,000 miles – a figure which puts rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra in the shade and which challenges the Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.
Much of this is down to the Civic’s wider target audience, unlike the previous model which, Type R aside, was bought mainly by people with a keen eye on their pension plans and eligibility for SAGA benefits.
Now, Civic is bought by much younger people thanks to its futuristic looks, and this will translate into more younger buyers in three years’ time. There are far more 30-something drivers now considering the Civic in preference to the ubiquitous Golf – something we’ve heard not just from Honda but also from personal experience from Fleet News’ parent company’s own fleet operation.
But it’s not just fleet managers who will be happy – drivers will appreciate the Civic, too, especially with a monthly benefit-in-kind tax bill of £49 a month and real-world economy of 45mpg.
Only once did we get near Honda’s claimed average of 53.3mpg, thanks to featherfoot colleague John Maslen, but 45mpg is a decent return considering the hard life our car had.
It also stood up well to our six-month test, with the interior proving resistant to the usual knocks and scrapes, and no problems with build quality, either.
Winning a Fleet News Award is the ultimate accolade for a car in our industry – and the Civic is a worthy recipient.
Price: £18,095 (£19,295 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 140
Company car tax bill (2007): 22% tax-payer: £49 per month
Combined mpg: 53.3
Test mpg: 45.3
CAP Monitor RV: £7,200/39%
Contract hire rate: £377
Total expenditure: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles