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BabyDrive Verdict

Learning to drive in the UK in the 90s, the Honda Civic was a new and sporty little car that the cool kids had! When I found out they still existed I was eager to see if 20 years later it was still the sporty little car I remember and, most importantly, if it is any good as a BabyDrive!

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The latest Honda Civic did not look like the hatchback I was expecting! It seemed too long and I thought we’d been given the Sedan! It did have that Honda styling I remember, spoilers, angles and honeycomb grill.

Nostalgia wasn’t enough though, by day four I nearly stopped using the Honda Civic press car as I just could not get my daughter into her rear facing child seat without contorting her into such a position I was worried I would do her some long-term back damage! The combination of the seat positioning, the shallow door opening and low roofline, meant I had to fold Tulsi in two and shove her into her child seat through a very small gap. Every time it would take at least two or three attempts to post her in and if I got the angle wrong or I had her contorting in the slightly wrong position, it was all over! I would have to comfort her, calm her down and then try again a few minutes later. I think it was a little mentally scaring for her to say the least! Not something you want to do to a child that is already not keen on going in the car!!

The same design details from the exterior followed through to the interior too in its angles, styling and aesthetics. Once I'd shoehorned Bub into her seat, the Civic was a well thought out space to drive in.

Similarly, a lot of design had gone into the technology features in this car. The Civic felt like it was bursting with gadgets and technology so if you are someone who wants all the safety alarms and warnings then you will LOVE the Honda Civic! For it not only gives you the usual sirens and bells but it also makes Big Brother style announcements!!

I was never too sure when an announcement might happen as I had a couple of surprises through the week! I had one about taking the handbrake off, another instructed me to ‘Fasten Drivers Seatbelt’ in a loud female voice, when I undid my driver's seatbelt. The announcements were loud and I could not find a way to turn their volume down. I have to say I was a little surprised by them on both occasions and found they disrupted Tulsi while she was sleeping.

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The Civic had Apple CarPlay which was great because the in-car system was very confusing. The media system used an impenetrable list format that didn’t seem to have any consistency on each screen. I think only the programmer would know where all the function adjustments were located! There were fixed touch buttons down the right edge of the 7” touchscreen, which I found sometimes didn’t work and I had to press them repeatedly to get them to function.

More often than not if I am going out with Tulsi to Day Care for example, her dad will come out to the car with us. He will fasten her in to her child seat while I load the inevitable bags and stuff!!

I’ll hop into the drivers seat and turn the air-con or heating on depending on the time of year. I usually don’t put my seatbelt on straight away as I know I’ll have a few minutes to wait! In the Civic it repeatedly ‘dongs’ at you rather loudly and annoyingly when you turn the engine on, until you fasten your seatbelt. Interestingly though if I started to reverse and then undid my seatbelt the alarm did not sound?

When a rear passenger undid their seatbelt whilst the car was driving along a warning light flashed on the driver's digital display until quite a while after it was re-fastened.

One of my favourite tech features about the Civic was it’s left indicator camera. I'd never had this on any other car but found it really useful especially for changing lanes on the motorway, so I could see in my blind spot, and it was great for reverse parking next to a kerb and driving next to cycle lanes.

The cameras 80-degree view comes on automatically when you indicate left, or you can turn it on manually at any time with a button on the end of the indicator stalk.

My second favourite feature was the Civic's retracting, side-roller parcel shelf! It is a GENIUS idea! It meant no storing of enormous solid parcel shelf or wielding a large, heavy full-width beam style one either! Or trying to store that under the boot floor!

Equally impressive, the Civic could hold a surprising amount in its boot. Empty I could get 11 shopping bags in, five across the seat backs and six across the front of the boot where it widens slightly.

Or I could get the Mountain Buggy stroller and two shopping bags in there and there was room on top of the pram for a big nappy bag as well!

I did find the shape of the boot a little awkward to use at first. It has a deep drop down to the boot floor, wheel arch indents and then a narrowing toward the seat backs. The whole car domes inwards at the top so the boot mouth is very shaped. Once I negotiated which parts of the boot the stroller would fit across, and where all the lumps and bumps were, I was okay!

The space in the cabin of the Civic is surprisingly good, my 186cm-tall husband could just fit in the passenger front seat with a rear facing child seat behind him. He couldn’t recline the seat back as much as he would have liked but his knees weren’t touching the glove box like they have in some much bigger cars! However, his head was brushing the ceiling! The driver's seat base can be raised and lowered, but the passenger seat does not offer the same adjustment.

I found the driver's seat particularly uncomfortable as it had an ‘S’ shape to its backrest and I could not wear a ponytail! The backrests in the back seats sloped away at too much of an angle for me to sit comfortably there too.

If the Honda Civic is a real consideration for you as a BabyDrive and one of you is tall, then I would consider how long you are going to have your baby rear facing. With a forward facing child seat, there is obviously much more room to recline the passenger seat in front of it.

Installing child seats came with a few difficulties too. I could fit two child seats in the Civic in the outer back seats, there was not enough room for a middle child seat too.

The ISO Fix anchor points are on the two outer rear seats and were so deeply embedded between the leather seat cushioning on either side that I found it very difficult to connect the ISO Fix and had to climb into the back seat on both sides to wrestle them in.

The top tether anchor points for the two outer seats are positioned on the reverse of the seat backs. The middle seat top tether anchor point is positioned on the boot floor behind the seat back. On either side of this however and directly underneath the two outer top tether anchor points are boot cargo net anchor points, which do look different but I can imagine that they would get mistaken by a few as the top tether anchor points. I think this is simply a bad design by Honda that could easily lead to confusion and wrong installation of child seats.

BabyDrive Indepth

The Honda Civic has a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

The Honda Civic range all come with six airbags and load limiting pre-tensioner seatbelts in the front as standard. The six airbags include driver and front passenger front and side airbags and curtain airbags for the front and rear side passengers.

The standard safety features across the Civic range include Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD), Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) that activates the hazard lights when you slam on the brakes, Tyre Deflation Warning System (DWS), Vehicle stability assist (VSA), Security alarm and Hill Start Assist.

The top spec VTi-LX model comes with the Honda Sensing Suite range of various safety and driver assistance technologies. These include Forward Collision Warning (FCW) that gives you audible and visual warnings if the car senses a collision may occur, Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) kicks in and applies the brakes to lessen the severity of impact if a collision is unavoidable and you missed the FCW.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW) alerts you with a warning on the screen and an alarm if you drift out of your lane, while Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM) will steer you back into your lane and apply the brakes when necessary if it thinks you have ignored the LDW. Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) will maintain your position in a lane, which is useful on motorway journeys.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF) allow you to keep your safe set distance from the car you are following, even at low speeds, which is particularly useful in traffic jams.

My main safety concern with the Civic was the potential for confusion with the Top Tether anchor points and cargo net anchor points. This would be more of a user error but could have dire consequences.

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