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ROAD TEST – Honda Civic 1.5 VTEC

By Ian Strachan

Honda has long been known for cars that are well-built, reliable, well-specified and comfortable, if a little conservative.

The latest Honda Civic adds a new dimension to that. With design that is anything but conservative, the shark-nosed Civic is a sporty, head-turninng beast.

It’s eye-catching front end, low side profile and sporty back-end, make this car a good looker from any angle. And even if you don’t go for the top-of-the-range Type R, you still get great performance, and lots of technology to help you drive as economically as possible.

But don’t think because it’s green it must be sluggish  The Civic 1.5 VTEC Sport Plus which I tested delivers 182 bhp and is no slower off the mark than it’s less green competitors. All of this adds to the virtues that the Honda Civic has been delivering for some time. Economy isn’t bad, either, giving you 48.7 mpg in mixed driving.

The Civic – in whatever guise – is quite simply a very good car. Attractive to look at, with good specification and solid build quality the Civic has been a big seller for many years – and deservedly so.

The Civic’s distinctive wedge shape is enhanced with chunky 17 inch alloy wheels and front, rear and side “Sport” garnishes including a twin rear central exhaust.

The inside of the Civic is good too, with all effort concentrated on driver and passenger comfort and convenience. Supportive, leather-trimmed seats hug you in a cockpit which you can tell  was designed primarily with the driver in mind, with dials and controls easy to see and reach. You get a central console with sliding arm rest, and a sunroof.

The front passenger seat is extremely comfortable, but long-legged rear seat passengers may find themselves a little cramped for room.

The Civic is a real pleasure to drive. Linked to a smooth CVT automatic gearbox the engine is quiet and unruffled throughout. It never sounds or feels under pressure and delivers power exactly when you want it.

Ride and handling are exceptional, with crisp and positive steering response and nicely damped suspension to give a smooth ride. The Honda’s grip on the road is never uncertain, even when cornering at speed.

Equipment levels are good, with Honda Connect touchscreen navigation, with DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectors, with steering wheel controls. You also get all-round airbags, dual zone climate control, electric windows and heated folding mirrors, LED front fog lights, all-round parking sensors with rear camera, automatic wipers and LED headlights, automatic stop/start and cruise control.

In addition, standard specification on the Sport Plus includes blind spot warning, wireless phone charger, up-rated audio and an all-round adaptive damper system

This is an easy car to like  and I was sorry to see it go. The whole thing, including £525 for pearlescent paint, comes at a reasonable £27,740 on the road.

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