Honda Civic 1.4

I-VTEC Sport

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

IF you want a high speed performance car but age, budget or insurance constraints prevent it what do you do?

Well for a lot of people it's all about image. If the car you drive looks like it will eat BMWs and Audis for breakfast sometimes that's all that's needed.

And the latest Civic from Honda performs that task perfectly.

The Civic I-VTEC Sport has the kind of body kit that makes it look as if it should be on the starting grid for the British Touring Car Championships - but beneath the bonnet lies a very sedate 1.4-litre, 100bhp petrol engine.

If ever there was a sheep in wolf's clothing this is it.

With its dramatic side skirts, colour-coded rear spoiler, heavily tinted side windows, 17-inch black alloys and low profile tyres the Sport version of the entry-level Civic could be - and on a couples of occasions when I drove the car was - taken for one of the blisteringly quick Civic Type-R GT models.

But with a of price tag of £18,360 as opposed to the Type-R GT model's £32,000 something has to give.

And of course in this case it's performance. The Sport will hit 62 miles per hour in a very pedestrian 13.5 seconds - and to be honest feels slower.

Even working the gearbox particularly hard doesn't seem to light this car's fire, you just have to wait for the speed to build slowly.

But the upside is this Civic not only has a sensible price but insurance ratings are a lowly 5E and the car will average just under 52 miles per gallon.

Like all Civics this five-door hatchback has a coupe-like image thanks to the concealed rear door handles.

The interior is spacious with generous leg and head room and the rear doors open wide to allow easy access.

Luggage space is particularly good with some 477 litres available with all the seats in position and up to 1,378 litres with the rear seats folded. A double-decker boot floor allows you to pack even more in.

And like all Civic this one comes with the car's famous "Magic Seats" which allows you to fold down or lift up various sections so you have a multiplicity of permutations. Accommodating large or awkward items is child's play with the Civic. And if you fold everything completely flat you have the capacity of a small van.

On the road the 1.4 Sport is comfortable although the ride is on the firm side, partly due to the suspension and partly to the low profile tyres.

The steering is precise and a short throw gear lever makes light work of the six gears. There's a dashboard mounted indicator to tell you when to change gear for optimum fuel consumption and you can switch the car to eco mode for even more frugal driving.

FAST FACTS

Honda Civic 1.4 I-VTEC Sport

Price: £18,360

Mechanical: 100bhp, 1,339cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 116mph

0-62mph: 13.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 51.4

Insurance Group: 5

C02 emissions: 131g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/90,000 miles

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