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Count the cost


But picking up the keys for my new car, little did I know that within days I would be $333 out of pocket.

And that's not counting the cost of my humiliation.

The exorbitant fee was not a hire cost. Nor was it the cost of petrol or any other hidden costs.

It was the price of my mistake that saw me reluctantly handing over my credit card to unsympathetic Adelaide City Council bureaucrats. It all started two days after one of The Advertiser motoring writers handed me the keys, telling me to enjoy my new wheels. Pulling up in an on-street car park, I was impressed at how smoothly the Civic glided into place. Never before had parallel parking been so easy.

Returning two hours later, I was a little bemused to not recognise my car anywhere. Don't panic, I thought. These new cars all look the same. And for some reason, many of the cars in the street had Victorian numberplates like mine. Clinging to hope, I walked along the line of parked cars pressing the alarm button on my key waiting to see those familiar flashing lights. But there was no flashing.

My bemusement quickly turned to panic. "It's been stolen," I cried to my equally panicked companion.

"I can't believe it. I'm sure I parked it right here," I said, pointing to a vacant space.

It was now his turn to look bemused. "Um, that's in front of a garage roller door," he said. That's how I ended up in the council offices the next morning – paying the costs of my car being towed from the front of a serviced apartment block's roller door and stored overnight, plus a $48 parking ticket. But even in my short time with this stylish vehicle, I learned there were many things to love.

For a so-called "small sedan", this baby has plenty of room to move and a large boot which means adequate space for all those shopping bags.

And for a girl whose usual mode of transport is a 1.2-litre two-door hatch, I loved the grunt of this 1.8-litre "beast". One touch of the accelerator and off you zoom. The interior light that automatically turns on when you turn the engine off is a nice little touch. It fades out when you shut the door.

There really wasn't much not to like. Only a couple of little nitpicks – the dash gear display and tacho were partially obstructed by the steering wheel, at least from my position, and the handbrake got a bit in the way of the gear shift.

So, towing ordeals aside, this beauty surpassed my expectations and was a pleasure to drive – from what I can remember of our few hours together.

LOVE IT LEAVE IT

Honda Civic VTi Auto

Price: $22,990

LOVE IT

The power.

The roominess cleverly combined with a sleek design.

Electric seat adjustment.

Automatic interior light.

Digital speed display.

LEAVE IT

With the seat adjusted, I found it hard to see the front left-hand side of the car.

Dash gear display and tacho partially blocked by the steering wheel.

Handbrake a bit in the way of gear shift.