The Honda Civic 5-door owes a lot to British intervention. It was, after all, partly developed by Rover (whose 400 and 45 series are, engines apart, virtually identical). And from the start, unlike other Civics, it has been built at Honda's Swindon factory, a European car intended to please European buyers.
And it has. Unfettered by import quotas, the Civic 5-door has for some time been Honda's best-selling car here. Which means that there are plenty around on the used market. They make plenty of sense too.
The Civic 5-door range beat its Rover clone to market with a launch in March 1995. Equipment levels were strong from the start (better than its British rivals), with even the least expensive entry-level 1.4i version getting front full-sized driver and passenger airbags, power steering, central locking, an engine immobiliser, electric windows, wood finish interior trim and an electric glass sunroof.
It was the same story with the other four models in the range. These included two 1.6-litre variants - the plush 1.6 LS and the sporty 1.6 SR, with its 120mph-plus 'VTEC' engine. There was also a 1.5-litre version, the 1.5i VTEC-E, which, with its clever variable valve timing engine, was economical enough to take on diesel rivals.
A high-level brake light was added to all models in October 1995 but the real changes came with the introduction of second generation versions in June 1997. These were recognisable by Honda's new corporate chrome grille with its prominent central 'H'. Smoked rear lights and extra chromework completed the main visual changes.
A Rover-engined turbo diesel model joined the range, as did a flagship 1.8 VTi model, equipped with what Honda billed as the most powerful 1.8-litre engine in the world.
Aerodeck estate versions arrived in April 1998. Late in 1999, Honda revised the model line-up, bringing trim level designations into line with the larger Accord. The diesel, never a strong seller, was dropped. The 5-door was replaced by an all-new model in October 2000, though dealers continued to sell stocks of the 1.4 Sport model until March 2001. At this point, the Aerodeck was also dropped.