When's it going?

The Civic IMA has been replaced by the Honda Civic Hybrid. It has 20 per cent more power than before and has been restyled, so that it looks like the USA saloon it really is. Mind you the old IMA was pretty much the same and best of all it's going to be cheaper.

What's good about it?

You'll feel good about driving an IMA and just a bit superior as with just 116g/km of carbon dioxide emissions, the Civic falls into the lowest tax bracket. You will certainly enjoy the average 57.7 overall mpg and the 65.7mpg when you can travel at a constant 56mph. If you live around London you can drive throughthe congestion zone without coughing up £8 to Citizen Ken.

The engineering is pretty much flawless and you won't find yourself breaking down or that bits fall off or wear out quickly. Another reason to feel smug is that you're doing millions of miles to the gallon while being cosseted in a leather-lined, climate-controlled, electric-everything environment.

There is plenty of safety kit too with driver, passenger and side airbags and anti-lock brakes. There is a decent driving position with a height-adjustable seat and steering wheel with clear instrumentation and controls that fall easily to hand. It is whisper-quiet at idle and low speeds which is slightly eerie.

What's bad about it?

The trouble with this Civic is that it was never as clever as everyone thought it was. Many were tempted by the PowerShift grant, which made theprice seem a bit more reasonable. Trouble is that also meant that the tax advantage of having a low CO 2 output was nullified by the high price.

Then there is the fuel economy, which is impressive for a petrol engine, but actually only par for the course when it comes to a modern turbodiesel. As a private buy then it makes sense, but there are so few in circulation at the moment that prices aren't attractive. It is on the sluggish side and the engine will make a racket if you really push it. The bottom environmental line is that it produces less CO 2 than a normal car, but it isn't as radical and planet-saving as you might wish to believe. It is a comfy small car with decent mpg and that's about it.

How much?

Never a bestseller, there are few in circulation and savings have always been modest. At buyacar.co.uk 0845 226 0101 it is possible to buy a brand new example at £15,908 saving £392. www.GR8cardeal.co.uk did much better offering to put you on the road for £15,676.

Any snags?

There have been no reported problems, but it does need a Honda service history to ensure it runs like a clockwork hybrid should.


Launched: 2004

Engine size: 1.4litre

Performance: top speed 110mph; 0-60mph in 12.8 seconds

Economy: 57.7mpg

Safety: not NCAP-tested

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