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Honda's Civic pride.

Byline: By Chris Russon

In one form or another, the Honda Civic has been around for the best part of 35 years. Reliable, well built and up to the job, the Civic has always been a good car but stylish and trend-setting, no.

Even Honda executives admit it developed something of a "granny image", even though any Civic has been at the cutting edge under the skin.

Now it's time for "Go, Granny, go, go, go" as the latest Civic blows away the cobwebs and reveals itself as one of the most futuristic cars ever to make it into production.

From concept to showroom, the new Civic has arrived in less than a year.

It wowed the crowds at the Geneva Motor Show in March and now it's ready to hit the streets in a similar fashion.

No other car in the small to medium sector has such an eye-catching impact as the new Civic and it's all made in Britain at Honda's factory in Swindon.

From triangular exhaust pipes to mirror image front fog lamps, the Civic will cut a dash wherever it goes.

Climb inside and the same is true. No other car has a dashboard like this with split level instrumentation combining traditional dials with digital readouts.

Never mind a cockpit feel, this is more like sitting in a space shuttle. At last the Civic has something credible to offer to younger drivers who want to be ahead of the game

Three engines are on offer with prices starting at pounds 12,685 for a 1.4 litre petrol model and topping out at pounds 18,100 for an all singing and dancing EX version powered by the 2.2 litre turbo-diesel already used in Honda's bigger Accord saloon.

In between are 1.8 litre VTEC petrol models available from pounds 13,535 to pounds 17,300 for one using Honda's i-SHIFT semi-automatic gearbox.

If anything that version is the weakest link. Using the gearbox takes perfecting and while auto mode is useful in heavy traffic, manual mode is all that will do out on the open road.

The i-Shift box is a pounds 700 premium and for my money the six-speed manual is the better choice.

It's roomy inside, has a split level boot which can accommodate a family's luggage with ease and the way the floor drops down to create extra space is simplicity itself.

Smaller engined versions were absent at last week's launch of the car but the 1.8 models and diesels proved themselves to be up with the best.

The diesel Civic can average around 55 miles per gallon with exhaust emissions of no more than 140g/km. Its torquey mid-range performance gives plenty of acceleration with 0 to 60 taking a shade over 8.5 seconds. Top speed is claimed at 127mph, the same as the 1.8 petrol versions.

Yet such are the characteristics of the diesel it is actually quicker under acceleration with the 1.8 Civic hitting the 60 around 0.3 of a second slower.

Honda is expecting top level five star safety credentials from the NCAP testing programme.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 9, 2005
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