The 'wow' factor; STEVE GRANT believes Honda have taken the Civic to a whole new level with the latest version of this family hatchback.
THE new tenth-generation Honda Civic is the result of the largest single model global development programme in the company's history.
A core model for the brand in Europe, the Civic has been at the heart of the brand's sales and manufacturing in the region for 40 years.
For many European customers, the Civic is Honda and the development team targeted a sporty rejuvenation to place the new model in a league of its own. If we take the Type R out of the equation, it's certainly achieved that.
Honda's claim is that it's the sportiest Civic ever, setting new benchmarks in terms of performance, fuel efficiency, spaciousness, safety and interior quality thanks to new thinking and new approaches to body construction, vehicle aerodynamics and chassis design.
Judging by the length of the Honda press kit, they rewrote the book.
The result is a marriage of very distinctive design, sporty styling and versatile practicality with a renewed focus on rewarding driving.
Wider, longer and lower than any of its predecessors, the new Civic has short overhangs and taut lines.
A sharp and aggressive "face", pronounced wheel-arches, sculpted front and rear intakes, and an aggressive sloping roofline hint at the Civic's sporting character.
You can accessorise the distinctive looks further with the PS1195 Orange Line pack - there's also a Black Line pack - and PS1995 Hexia wheels.
They add a front chin spoiler, side skirts and rear diffuser as well as mirror caps in either black or orange. Orange line also includes interior accents across the dashboard in the same colour.
Then you've got something looking like it's just driven out of the Fast and Furious.
Except it's not really fast or furious. Leaving aside the Type R once again, the Civic for now only comes with two new turbocharged engines - a 1.0 VTEC petrol or a 1.5-litre VTEC. A 1.6 turbodiesel is on its way.
The 1.0-litre driven here will sprint from 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds - although, helped by a healthy dose or torque, it feels faster than that.
Officially, the top-spec EX version will do 55.4mpg.
The new engine, in this case matched to a slick six-speed manual gearbox, is fitted to a lighter, stiffer chassis with tightly tuned aerodynamics, a sophisticated new suspension system and technologies such as Honda's Agile Handling Assist electronic stability system, which ensures the Civic immediately responds to your every touch.
A much lower driving position also adds to the sporting feel and the driver's seat is not only comfortable but highly adjustable.
By Honda's own admission, this is a car engineered from the ground up to fulfil the promise of agile and rewarding dynamics and it pulls it off without the pure power, grunt and theatre of a true hot hatch.
Handling is excellent, steering is responsive, and the drive on twisting B-roads is engaging as you work the gears and enjoy the revving of the three-pot engine.
On motorways, it's quiet when cruising and very comfortable - just what you want from the family hatchback.
As a family hatchback, the new Civic is also very safe. It comes complete with six airbags, including side airbags, and Honda Sensing as standard.
This is a suite of active safety and driver assist technologies that uses a combination of radar and camera information, plus a host of hi-tech sensors to warn and assist the driver in potentially dangerous situations.
The new wider, longer platform does bring class-leading interior space and the new interior features a simple, uncluttered layout.
At the top of the centre console sits the seven-inch second-generation Honda Connect colour touchscreen display, which as well as being a touchcontrol device for the infotainment and climate control functions, integrates with reversing cameras on the top grades. It's also now compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
In front of the driver, there's a completely new digital instrument display that is easy to use and understand.
The range-topping EX also comes with heated front seats, panoramic sunroof, 11-speaker audio, dual-zone climate control, leather interior, privacy glass, auto wipers and power folding door mirrors.
Boot space remains class-leading at 478 litres. The rear seats split 60/40 and the low sill and wide opening makes it easy to load. There's also plenty of clever storage space in the cockpit.
So, Honda have just about achieved their aims of a fuel-efficient, driveroriented, practical, family Civic - with head-turning looks, too.
Z SPORTY The latest Honda Civic has some aggressive styling and delivers a pleasing performance