Civic pride

THE Civic has proven to be one of the most popular models in the Honda range and since 1973 to date more than 650,000 have been sold in the UK.

THE Civic has proven to be one of the most popular models in the Honda range and since 1973 to date more than 650,000 have been sold in the UK.

Now comes news of a new model, the ninth generation and I have been fortunate to get behind the wheel of the newcomer which goes on sale in February next. However, your local dealer should have won in the showroom next month.

Unveiled at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show the Swindon built Civic features a number of subtle exterior design elements; the real difference is under the skin and in the cabin layout.

With the aid of the ex-F1 Honda engineers the handling and ride of this latest model is taken to a much higher level; this car has a decided premium feel.

Inspired by the cockpit of a jet fighter you really are part of the car when you take the driving wheel; instrumentation and layout is sheer quality.

One of the minus points for me with the outgoing model was the poor rearward vision; Honda has taken note and this time round there is a vast improvement.

All who travel in this new Honda will do so in comfort, wind noise is much less than before as aerodynamics were given priority and of course this is also an important factor when it comes to fuel saving.

At first glance I was almost fooled, was I about to take a three door Civic for my test drivers; no, again great design, the rear doors have concealed handles, this gives this five door car quite a coupe appearance; yet with the famed Honda Magic seats you have a very practical mode of transport.

Boot space is a generous 477 litres, flip those rear seats in a second and you have 1,378 litres to play with.

There is no doubt that Honda can be listed among the finest engine builders in the world and for me one of the joys of driving their cars has been the power plant that rests beneath the bonnet.

With the new Civic comes a choice of both petrol and diesel engines with more to follow.

My test drive opportunity permitted me to try 1.8 litre petrol and a 2.2 litre diesel.

The petrol is of course of the VTEC family and the one tested was a 1.8 litre with 142PS and a CO2 rating of 137g/km. Like other VTECs I have sampled in the past, to get the best you need to use the gearbox.

There is also a 1.4 litre version with 100PS and a CO2 rating of 129g/km.

Now to the gem, the 2.2 DTEC with 150PS and a CO2 rating of just 110g/km. With lots of torque this would be my pick.

The engine is of course that as used in other Honda models including the Accord, but for the new Civic it has been further refined.

Next year a 1.6 litre diesel engine will provide even more choice for the buyer and those in the fast lane please do not be dismayed a new Type-R will be coming our way in 2013.

Rumour has it that later next year a Mugen inspired Civic will be launched, so watch this space.

Ask anyone who drives today and their main concern is fuel economy.

With the new Civic Honda is right on the case with Eco Assist which optimises fuel efficiency by minimising the differences in fuel consumption caused by varying driving styles.

There is also the ECON button which you can select on the dashboard; this simply activates a gentler throttle map and there is also Idle Stop, this is Honda’s version of start/stop which has become a popular feature with many car manufacturers.

Yes the new Civic is a very comprehensive package, with technology at its heart and a comprehensive safety package with many new features to keep all onboard safe and those outside the car itself.