While sold with minimal equipment (typically a low quality AM radio, and rudimentary heater) the Civic represented value for money, with good performance, reliability and economy.
Initially the Civic was sold as either a four speed manual, or two speed "HondaMatic" model. Later models went to five speed manual and full four speed automatic gear boxes. Like the Mini, the gear box / differential was integral with the engine unit, but drive shaft technology in the Civic was a quantum leap ahead of the universal joints of the Mini.
The Civic evolved through 1300cc (1980) to larger capacities and more creature comforts (Air conditioning, electric windows etc) through the 1990's and into 2000's, with a 5 door or station wagon model around in the early 80's.
An interesting engine developments used in 1980 to 83 models was the CVCC system, where a small auxilary inlet valve allowed a rich fuel / air mixture into the cylinder near the spark plug, while the main charge was lean. This design could meet clean air emission standards without the power robbing emmission control devices fitted to many cars of that time. This engine was a rare example of commercial development of a stratified charge internal-combustion engine.
Current generation Civics use Variable Valve Timing, and are up to around the weight of the early Honda Accord models, initially introduced as the "big brother" of the Civic in the mid 70's.
The Civic is also popular with a transplanted Honda City Turbo power plant, the City Turbo engine "drops in" to the Civic engine bay, making a startling power to weight ratio car.