I had the pleasure of owning both these cars in my youth. Lancer was my first car given by my dad whereas my mother drove the civic.
I would definately go for the lancer. We had the super saloon model with its digital dash (when you are 16 there is nothing cooler!) and its front 2 power windows...oddly the rear windows were manually operated. The seats were way more comfortable than the civic and the engine definately had more pick, as attested by constant drag races between the two.
Also the Lancer had a greater sense of occasion about it. The steering wheel proudly stated ' Designed by F.A. Porsche', the dash was angular, the seats would adjust in height with a sturdy gear like lever which really helped us vertically challenged boys. The digital dash was a noveltly along with the switch knobs for the lights and wipers. There was a big sense of drama in the car, it was unique and ultra cool. And mine was gold with gold rims! And proudly stated 'Super Saloon' on its fender. Factory gold coloured car with factory gold rims. You can't beat that.
The Civic was a plain jane compared to the lancer. Plain blue interior with no fancy gadgetry and the seats were so so. Yes it was reliable , as had to have the lancers engine rebuilt (but i blame that on my 16 year old testosterone leaded right foot but it was a bore to drive. The design was dull and the interior was yawn inducing. Simple pedestrian transport for the masses. It got us from point A to B with the minimum amount of fuss whereas the Lancer was drama and exciting with its angular looks and funky drive sensation. As a daily driver the civic was top notch, but the lancer was always more fun and cooler.
In the end i always pick the Lancer. As a 16 year old kid that car was everything i wanted in a car whereas the civic was just to darn boring. All my friends agreed back then also so wasn't just me.