I had a 95 civic (amazing little car, slow as crap, handled like it was glued to the road, never felt unbalanced or unstable). Then i had 2 8th gens, a coupe and a sedan. Definitely preferred the stiffer suspension of the coupe, but again, was a fun car. Handled well, took corners well, no body roll, felt planted and never bouncy. The sedan was good too just a bit softer all around.
I've had 2 9th gens as well. Sedan and now a coupe. Sedan was rubbish... quieter than my 8th gens were and that's about the only good thing. Suddenly i felt like i was bouncing over bumps in the road, back end would get squirrely, etc. Coupe is a bit better handling than the sedan was, but again, doesn't feel as stable or planted as my old civics and can't push it to the same limits without tire squeal.
Really looking forward to the 10th gen. (getting a coupe) that will blend the best parts of my 2 favorites my 95 and my 07 coupe, but with all the added tech and features.
Wow, you are on a Civic rampage.
I owned a 95 Integra, 2001 Prelude, still own a 07 CSX Type S(KW supercharged). As a daily I have a leased Mazda3 now since I needed a hatchback and no matter how I tried to like the Fit, there was no contest. Just don't trust Mazda enough to buy.
Completely agree with you on the handling of older Hondas. Double wishbones will always trump struts.
I don't want to jump too soon to conclusions, but since the Mazda3 was winning all comparos, it may be safe to say the new Civic is best in class.
Since handling is so important for me, I have to say the Mazda is still more playful, sharper on initial turn in, while the Civic is solid, composed and very competent, very planted mid turn.
While it may not be immediately obvious when one just goes for a test drive(magazine tests too) it shows for sure once you spend more time in the car.
I have found a few flaws in the Mazda that I never had in any of my Hondas.