Honda Civic i-DTEC

EX

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

IT took 118 miles before I saw any movement of the fuel gauge needle of this Honda Civic - and then it simply moved to the full marker.

The car had arrived with a full tank of diesel and for almost 48 hours the needle sat impassively above the F mark stubbornly refusing to move. In fact for nearly two days I was convinced it was broken.

But when you get a car with a claimed fuel consumption of more than 76 miles per gallon it's probably hardly surprising the gauge moves so slowly.

And while I never did quite match Honda's official figure my personal average fuel consumption over a week's motoring in a 1.6 i-DTEC EX Manual was a very impressive 63mpg.

But what's really surprising about this car is that despite its frugal nature it's a spacious family hatchback with punchy performance, able to hit 62 miles per hour in a very respectable 10.5 seconds and a top speed of 124 mph.

Apart from the Civic Type R - which is almost a separate breed of Civic altogether - the EX is the flagship of the range and boasts an impressive list of features.

It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a glass panoramic sun roof, LED headlights with washers, keyless entry and stop/start, and front seats which - while forward and backward movement is done manually - have powered lumber and side supports enabling you to get decidedly comfortable.

This EX model also came with Honda's safety pack which is aimed at keeping you out of trouble in varying conditions.

One of the most useful features I discovered was the pack's Cross Traffic Monitor system, which is designed to ensure you don't collide with another car when backing out of a parking spot, such as in a supermarket car park.

It cleverly uses rear side radar sensors to detect cars approaching you when you are reversing and shows the direction they are coming from in your rear view camera as well as sounding an audible warning.

Then there's the blind spot system - first developed by Volvo - which turns on a light on the wing mirror when a car is in your blind spot to make you aware of the danger.

Add to all that the Lane Departure Warning system which gives an audible warning if you stray out of your lane without signalling and a function which recognises traffic signs and displays them on your dashboard touch-screen and it's easy to see why this £600 safety pack is a good investment.

Of course all Civics come with a number of safety features as standard but it's worth the extra to keep you that little bit safer.

On the road you have the choice of using the car in normal or eco mode. But while eco mode might give you a few more miles to the gallon I found the car was so economical anyway it was better left in normal to keep it more responsive in everyday traffic conditions.

The ride is firm without being uncomfortable and interior noise levels are impressively low making it an ideal family hatchback.

I liked the Civic's clear dashboard layout with its large rev counter immediately in front of your line of sight with the digital speedo sitting above it so you can read both at a glance.

A central touch screen houses the satellite navigation system as well as on-board features like radio controls.

For a car of this size the Civic offers generous passenger space for five while the double floor boot (offering 477 litres of space) means there is rarely a problem accommodating luggage.

The EX with the safety pack might be one of the higher priced Civics in the line-up but you get a lot for your money.

FAST FACTS

Honda Civic i-DTEC EX

Price: £26,200

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

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 10.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 78.5

Insurance Group: 17

C02 emissions: 98g/km

Bik rating: 17%

Warranty: 3yrs/90,000 miles

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