Voted Fleet Car of the Year, there have been plenty of industry plaudits heaped upon the latest incarnation of the Honda Civic
But after putting this stylish addition to the Japanese marque through its paces, it is not hard to see exactly why it is earning its spurs with both business users and a wider motoring audience alike.
As a long-term devotee of the Civic since the mid 1990s, it has been clear its evolution over the past two decades has shown impressive progress.
To its credit, there have never been any question marks over the model’s reliability and overall performance – with the patented VTEC engine maintaining its reputation for seemingly being almost bulletproof.
However, with perhaps the exception of its three-door guise led by the testosterone-fuelled Type R, the Civic may have suffered over the years from being overlooked by younger drivers who had considered it too conservative.
But this latest offering from Honda’s Swindon plant could well be the smartly designed car that goes a long way to swaying verdicts in its favour.
Not only does it pack some serious road presence with a distinctive front grille featuring additional sports lights, this feels like a car with plenty of substance.
While its profile may not be quite as low-slung as with former three-door models, the five-door hatchback’s well-balanced design definitely gained its share of admiring glances on our test drive to Camber Sands.
Ensconce yourself within its comfortable heated seats and you’ll find its specifications are a match for many other mid-range motors in its price bracket.
Not only does it pack some serious road presence with a distinctive front grille featuring additional sports lights, this feels like a car with plenty of substance.From the layout of the dash with its centrally placed rev counter taking pride of place (with speed displayed digitally just above its leather steering wheel), there’s a sense of confidence that flows throughout its features.
The built-in satellite navigation is refreshingly easy to use with its touch-screen operation, as are its audio systems, climate control, and rear and front parking sensors.
It is also pretty spacious, offering a fair level of legroom for front and rear passengers, plus generous boot space of 477 litres of storage – which should cope with a decent amount of family luggage. For larger loads the quick folding, magic seats in the rear are a bonus.
Beyond its looks, Civic’s prime selling point has to be its fuel economy – with the 1.6 diesel variant returning an impressive combined figure of 78.5 mpg.
Branded under Honda’s new Earth Dreams Technology environmental programme, this new powerplant appears anything but sluggish.
It certainly seems far more nimble than the car’s statistics of 120 PS and 0-62mph in just over 10 seconds would suggest and the six-speed manual gearbox is as efficient and slick as its predecessors.
In terms of its ride, the Civic definitely delivers in performing robustly on a range of road conditions.
From motorway cruising through to winding its way through the b-roads of East Sussex, it offers a memorable ride that you would be hard-pressed to recognise as being diesel other than a little characteristic noise during acceleration.
One of the few issues that lingers from previous generations of Civics is in its visibility being marginally affected by the split design of the rear hatch.
However, the car’s substantial main mirrors remedy this to a large degree and won’t impact on enjoyment of what is an excellent addition to the Honda family and a deserved award-winner.
Car Reviewed: Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC ES-T manual
Price: from £19,400
0-62mph: 10.5 sec
Top speed: 129mph
Fuel economy: Combined 78.5 mpg
Emissions: CO2 94g/km
Engine 4 cyls, 1597cc, petrol
Gearbox Six Speed Manual
Torque 350 Nm
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