Honda Civic 1.6

i-DTEC Sport

Honda Civic Sport, front
Honda Civic Sport, front
Honda Civic Sport, front
Honda Civic Sport, side
Honda Civic Sport, rear
Honda Civic Sport, interior
Honda Civic Sport, rear
Honda Civic Sport, rear
Honda Civic Sport, rear
Honda Civic Sport, interior

MOST of the talk about the Honda Civic for the past 12 months has revolved around the arrival of the eagerly-awaited Type-R hot hatch version.

Lost in the fanfare of publicity, and largely acclaim, that followed last year's launch was the news that, among a few minor tweaks to the rest of the Civic range, came the arrival of another new model.

The Civic Sport provides a halfway house for those that don't want the completely in-your-face styling, or indeed the expense, of the Type-R but still crave something a little more dynamic looking than the standard version.

The differences are subtle but just enough to endow the Sport with a more muscular and purposeful stance thanks to its colour-coded rear spoiler and 17-inch black alloys plus a lower grille mesh and a black roof lining for the cabin that echo those on the Type-R.

Engines are the same as those available for the rest of the Civic Range - 1.4 and 1.8-litre petrols and a 1.6-litre diesel - so Type-R style performance should not be expected.

That said, the 1.6-litre diesel I drove offered more than enough performance for day-to-day driving, with a 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds and a top speed of 129mph when paired with a compact and snappy six-speed manual transmission.

Throttle response is good and on-the-move acceleration lively enough to make overtaking a doddle while accurate responsive steering and good grip mean that the Civic Sport can be driven enthusiastically.

The extra low-end pulling power of the diesel, coupled with low running costs will appeal to business buyers, with a claimed 76 miles per gallon on average and carbon emissions of just 98g/km as well as relatively low insurance groups.

My stint behind the wheel coincided with half-term and it was decided that a couple of nights would be spent on a family camping trip - an ideal test for any family car's credentials and one which the Civic passed with flying colours.

It had no trouble hauling me, one of the kids, our eight-man tent and most of the camping gear while Mum and Child No.2 followed behind in the wife's runaround.

Packing all the paraphernalia for the excursion was simplicity in itself too, thanks to the remarkable versatility of the Civic - especially Honda's trademark Magic Seats.

With a capacity of 477 litres the boot is already one of the biggest in class and includes large compartment under the easily-adjusted false floor.

But the real advantage comes with the 60/40 split rear seats. These not only fold flat in the usual way but the seat bases also flip up, cinema-style, offering all of the space in the rear footwell for transporting taller or bulky items.

Simply flipping up the wider seat created room behind the driver for us to pack our tent and bedding with room to spare, leaving the boot free for the rest of our kit. And there was still room for one in the back had we needed it.

When you're not going camping, and with all of the seats in place, there is ample room for five adults to travel comfortably, with plenty of personal storage and good quality fixtures and fittings creating a pleasant environment in which to do so.

Sport trim sits mid-range and offers an impressive list of kit including a touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio and internet connectivity, climate control, automatic city braking system, reversing camera, parking sensors and rear privacy glass.

The Civic Sport is undoubtedly an appealing package. You won't find anything to match it's interior versatility outside of an MPV and it's enjoyable to drive, cheap to run and has a suitably classy feel.

FAST FACTS

Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC Sport

Price: £21,190

Mechanical:120ps, 1,597cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:129mph

0-62mph: 10.5 seconds

Combined MPG:76.3

Insurance Group:15

C02 emissions: 98g/km

Bik rating:19%

Warranty: 3yrs/90,000 miles

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