SECTOR Lower Medium PRICE €16,950 - €30,250 FUEL 5.1 – 8.7l/100km CO2 110 – 148g/km

Whether it’s a design you love or hate,the outgoing Civic was a revolution forHonda’s styling when it was released in2006. Still made to the carmarker’s highstandards, it packaged the dependabilityand affordability that’s always come withthe Civic badge into a bodyshell that’s stillunmistakeable today.

It’s a difficult act to follow, and Honda hasn’t been quite so brave this time around. 

The new Civic uses the same platform as its predecessor and shares a similar  profile. The slightly less controversial styling has brought the car up to date, and what really counts is underneath. Honda has spent the last five years talking to customers to find out what they didn’t like about the old one, and fixed those problems with its replacement.

With its sights set on growing its presence in the company car sector, the lack of a competitive diesel engine must have come close to top of the list. So while the new model still only has a 2.2 litre diesel, which is still large for the C-segment, COemissions have dropped from 137g/km to 110g/km, while power has increased 10PS to 150PS.Performance and emissions aren’t the entire story, though. The modest-sounding power increase hides this being a far quieter engine than its predecessor, and one with a much wider spread of torque that makes it feel much more responsive. 

Honda has also equipped all Civics with the same Eco mode as its hybrids, which alters throttle responsiveness and gives live feedback about driver behaviour to save fuel. Unlike some other vehicles with similar functions, it does so without making the car unresponsive or unwilling to climb hills. But this is still a large engine in a competitive sector, and Honda has its hopes pinned on a pair of 1.6-litre diesel engines, due to join the range next year, that will emit less than 95g/km. 

Until then, the reduction in running costs on the 2.2-litre engine is enough to make the Civic a viable fleet choice. There are, thankfully, plenty of good points carried over from the last model. Among these is the car’s reassuringly surefooted handling, which now comes courtesy of a far more compliant suspension setup. It’s still firm, but it’s far more comfortable. Drivers familiar with the outgoing car will find plenty of familiar items inside, too. 

The instrument binnacle is more conventional to look at but still places useful information just below the line of sight and now includes a colour display at the top of the dashboard showing media and navigation information. Though the futuristic floating needles are gone, the understated new instruments are now shrouded properly to stop them reflecting on the inside of the windscreen at night.There’s also a marked improvement in the quality of plastics, and the entire dashboard now looks like it was designed by one person, instead of three like its predecessor. 

Rear visibility, or a lack of it, will also be a familiar characteristic from the old car. Honda says it has lowered the spoiler by 20mm and introduced a rear wash /wipe system with a heated lower screen, but while this does offer a slightly clearer view the huge blind spot and thick rear pillars are still an impairment. Overall, though, there’s a genuine sense that Honda has really listened to complaints about the old car and put a lot of them right. it’s now a far more appealing ownership prospect even without the forthcoming small diesels.

VERDICT - With new Civic, Honda has retained many of the outgoing car’s strong points while taking positive steps to improve its fleet appeal. A winning formula.