JS

THERE is, believe it or not, a new version of the new version of the Honda Civic. We’re now in the 10th generation of the popular hatchback, and it was only launched a couple of years ago, but already it’s had a nip and a tuck.
Look closely and you can spot the changes, honest. There’s some minor tweaks to the bumper vents and grilles, the lower grille has been changed and there’s new LED headlights.
Inside there’s a better infotainment system, although it still feels low-tech compared to some rivals, and there’s some new trim options, including the mildly tarted-up Sport Line version I’ve been testing.
There’s a reasonable choice of engines, with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo kicking off proceedings in a surprisingly peppy way, thanks to its 124bhp.
JSThere’s also the familiar 1.5-litre turbo with a very healthy 180bhp. Automatic gearboxes are available in both cases, but the new six-speed manual is better than the whiney CVT system.
There’s also a diesel, he whispers to those still willing to explore the taboo. It’s a 118bhp version which offers a claimed 60mpg+ with just 90g/km of emissions. Oh, and let’s not forget the bonkers Type-R version, which is still one of the best hot-hatches on the market.
The shape of the “new” Civic divides opinion. It’s more coupe-esque than predecessors, but with similar interior space. Practicality is a strong-suit in this car, even though visibility is compromised by those unapologetically swoopy lines.
The interior continues to improve. It feels very well made and is very logically laid out. The seats are comfortable and the steering feel and gearbox – providing you pick the manual – are as good as it gets.
JSOut on the open road the 1.0-litre engine starts to reveal its limitations, and you’d be glad you picked the larger lump. But it likes to rev, albeit to just 5,600rpm, and does have a surprising eagerness about it when it’s kept on boost.
The chassis responds well to a bit of vigour. Body roll is kept neatly in check and adaptive damping works wonders for the ride when you’re pressing on.
You can pick up the new Sport Line Civic for less than £20,000 if you opt for the basic, manual-only SE trim, which gives you a decent batch of safety kit, but only 16″ alloy wheels. There’s a good selection of other gadgetry thrown in, though.
Hop up to the top SE trim and you’ll be knocking on the door of £25,000 before you add any options. But that’s not bad for a car with this level of spec and exclusivity. Honda’s good for residuals, too, so it makes a strong case for itself.
JSPersonally, I’ve never been sold on the looks. I thought they’d grow on me but, even with the revisions for the 2020 car, it’s still just a bit too fussy.
But it drives really well, the engines are strong and that manual gearbox is a delight. Practicality and poise are the other plus-points.
A solid effort, if not a game-changer.

JS