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With a 40-year heritage and over 600,000 annual sales worldwide, it's fair to say that the Civic is an important car for Honda globally.
Here in the UK, though, the hatchback has struggled to gain real popularity, living in the shadow of its biggest rival, the ambiguous Volkswagen Golf.
Built exclusively here in the UK at the firm's Swindon factory, the 10th-generation Civic is now lighter, longer and sportier than the model it replaces, with more interior space and generous levels of equipment.
Is this the car that turns the tide?
Lower and wider than the previous generation, the new Civic features a sharper and sportier front end alongside more distinctive and chiselled lines, proving very pleasing on the eye.
From launch there are two new petrol engines available, a 129hp three-cylinder 1.0-litre and a 1.5-litre offering up 182hp. A 119hp 1.6-litre diesel will join the line-up by the end of the year while the Sporty Type R is planned to arrive in the summer. Interestingly, no plug-in hybrid is expected.
Here we're driving the 1.0-litre engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, which is noticeably smoother and slicker than before. Also available is a seven-speed CVT automatic, which we would avoid, especially paired with the 1.0-litre petrol as gearchanges are slow and jerky.
The steering is direct and well-weighted and the car offers enough composure in the corners to inspire confidence. The chassis is significantly stiffer than before, which means a firmer ride, but ultimately a sportier experience when behind the wheel. Although not quite as involving as the Golf, the Civic's handling is still a marked improvement over the previous generation and worthy of praise.
On the motorway the 1.0-litre proves a surprisingly versatile engine with the 200Nm of torque enough to get the car up to speeds quickly. The car cruises nicely too, although the engine gets quite vocal at higher speeds if worked hard.
Running costs-wise, the Civic is competitive rather than class-leading. CO2 emissions start from as low as 106g/km; however, moving up to 17-inch alloys in SR trim results in a 11g/km penalty - something to bear in mind. Combined fuel economy of 55.4mpg is again competitive.
Majoring on practicality
One of the strengths of the previous Civic was its practicality credentials and that is still very much the case with this new car. Class-leading boot space of 478 litres is on offer, as well as a low and wide tailgate, which makes easy work of loading luggage.
Around the cabin there are numerous options to store your personal belongings including a versatile centre console cubby, while improvements to sound insulation mean wind and road noise have also been reduced. Headroom is plentiful up front and adequate in the rear, although six footers may feel cramped for legroom over longer journeys.
Interior quality has seen a considerable uplift over the outgoing model too, with a range of new materials used throughout. The simplistic layout is easy to navigate around, but it's pretty bland and there are a few dated features in the cabin.
Here in the UK there's a variety of different trims to choose from depending on the engine you pick. If you opt for the 1.0-litre then your choice is limited to four: S, SE, SR and EX. Opt for the 1.5-litre petrol and you've got three options: Sport, Sport Plus and Prestige.
SR is expected to be the biggest seller of the range and comes with a host of equipment as standard including dual-zone climate control, a rear parking camera, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, automatic wipers and electric door mirrors.
More good news for the Civic is that there's actually been a price reduction across some of the models on a like-for-like basis, and arguably its biggest rival, the Volkswagen Golf, is marginally more expensive and doesn't come as well equipped as standard.
Where the Civic really gains some ground against its competitors is in the whole-life costs department, thanks to some impressive residual values, which keep pence-per-mile figures very competitive, despite the higher running costs.
Add in the distinct improvements to the Civic's handling and we think the hatchback has given itself a real fighting chance to win customers away from German rivals. We just wish it was a fraction cheaper so it was easier to recommend.