Honda desperately needed to update and replace its best-selling car. Though at one time the Civic was the golden boy of the tuner crowd, that bunch began to look elsewhere after the late Nineties when the car went smooth, mainstream and joined its Corolla rival in bland land.

So the company went back to the drawing board and, Voila! Motor Trends 2006 Car of the Year. So does that mean the Civic has regained the hearts of its gearhead constituency, perhaps even stolen a few back from Mazda and Scion?

Not according to several critics. A review in the Detroit Free Press points out issues between the newly separate speedometer and tachometer that will make an enthusiast blanch. And another review in The Truth About Cars found the 140 ponies not quite matching the visual power of the new sheetmetal.

What's your take? Is the new Civic a tuner's toy or Toyota's twin?

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