Budget up to 10k ish for a car around 3 years old with mileage under 20k
I have a small runaround Panda so the new car will mostly be used for longer journeys, so needs to be comfortable on a motorway, decent acceleration, comfy to sit in for a few hours, reasonable mpg and not feel like it's going to disintegrate over 60mph ( like the Panda does).
Will also be used as a second car around town so needs to be not too big or unwieldy.
It's to replace a 2005 Vauxhall Zafira which we've had for a decade and I like driving, but has become increasingly unreliable and costly to run - is also a bit bigger than we need (is a 7-seater but we only need 5 seats).
Focus. I’m on my third, this one is an estate but have always had auto Focuses and never had a problem with them. Good to drive, roomy enough bootspace although we needed more for UK holidays, hence the estate. Can’t fault it at all.
Having thought about this, have you looked at the Toyota Prius? It seems to tick all your boxes. You might have difficulty getting the age and mileage you want for your price, but that's because they are in huge demand by the minicab trade because they are (by reputation) bombproof and use very little fuel.
Alternatively, the Toyota Auris Hybrid is much the same mechanicals in a more conventional looking skin.
I haven't any experience of either. We both ran Hondas in the past and very much liked them but when we had the DC we needed something Zafira like which Honda didn't offer.
Do you need reversing camera and "self-parking"? You can find the former on pretty much all modern hatchbacks (Focus, Astra, etc), and the latter them on quite a lot but AFAIK not on the Civic.
Bear in mind that the spoiler of the civic limits rear visibility; some people hate it, some are not bothered.
Are there zipcars in your area? In London, hatchbacks are the most common zipcars (Hyundai i 30, Gold, Focus and a few others I now forget); not sure what it costs to sign up to zipcar, but it might be a cheap way to try a few hatchbacks for half a day or so.
Boot capacity is tricky to judge; the official specs mean very little, because everyone seems to measure it differently, plus an oddly shaped 400l boot may be less useful than a perfectly straight 360l one. E.g. the Golf is said to have one of the most spacious boots, supposedly better than the Focus, but we found the Focus better (easier to fit the pram + shopping bags).
Which? is one of the few sites which measures boot capacity up to the cargo cover and up to the roof; I find the former measurement more useful because most hatchbacks tend to be oddly shaped above the cargo line so making the most of that space is harder, plus I'd rather not block the rear view mirror completely.