New Honda Civic a

turbo treat

Honda Civic, 2017, front, static
Honda Civic, 2017, front
Honda Civic, 2017, front, action
Honda Civic, 2017, rear, action
Honda Civic, 2017, rear, static
Honda Civic, 2017, interior
Honda Civic, 2017, 1.0 litre engine
Honda Civic, 2017, boot
Honda Civic, 2017, boot, underfloor

HONDA prides itself on engineering finesse and it's pushing the boat out with the latest British-built Civic.

The tenth generation of Honda's top seller in the UK is a radical take on the family hatchback scene and sees the Japanese brand joining the tiny turbo set.

An all-new 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol engine powers the cheapest version of the new Civic and it lacks for little.

Honda has split the new Civic line up into two distinct zones with the 1.0-litre engine powering the mainstream models and a 1.5-litre turbo used in sporty range toppers.

In reality there is little between them in everyday use but the 1.0-litre models are cheaper, priced from £18,475 - some £4,000 below the 1.5-litre Sport.

In top grade EX trim the Civic 1.0 turbo starts from £23,200 and for £1,400 more it is available with a CVT auto box that's surprisingly - and pleasantly - sharp shifting.

That combination puts Honda out on its own - Ford offers 1.0-litre engines with conventional automatic transmissions and VW uses its dual-clutch DCT set up - and the Civic CVT makes a fine fist of modern motoring.

Any feeling of surge under acceleration, so common with CVTs, is minimal and with paddle shifters as standard the Civic can flick through the gears nicely.

A sport mode gives extra bite and the suspension can also be altered at the touch of a button for a stiffer ride.

The turbo boost pushes power from the 988cc to 129bhp and that's enough to give the Civic CVT a 0 to 60 time of 11 seconds and a top end of 124mph - not overtly sporty but enough to keep most satisfied.

Officially it is rated at 56.5mpg with emissions of 114g/km, more efficient than the manual alternative which has a CO2 figure of 117g/km which equates to 55.4mpg.

We saw an average of 42.6mpg which was similar to that we experienced from the more powerful 1.5-litre Civic CVT, although that one has a bench test figure of 46.3mpg.

The new Civic is comprehensively equipped and all models include lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking.

The high specification EX grade includes blind spot and cross traffic monitors and some luxury touches such as leather trim, heated front seats and keyless operation. There's also an auto hold function on the electronic parking brake which is a boon at junctions.

With the 1.5-litre engine the top specification is called Prestige and includes some added body garnish such as chrome door handles and grille, heated rear seats and a blue backlight for the instrument panel.

Apart from the price - the 1.5 CVT Prestige costs from £27,500 - the real difference between the two engines is the three-pot rasp from the 1.0-litre and a little more punch from the 1.5 - after all it does have 182bhp on tap.

Like previous Civics, the latest model is built at Honda's factory in Swindon but the newcomer is now five-door only, bigger than before and quite aggressively styled with large - but purely cosmetic - air scoops front and rear.

Interior proportions are generous and so is the boot space at 478 litres with a maximum capacity of 828 litres with the rear seats folded and an underfloor compartment. There's also a rather natty tonneau which slides sideways over the luggage compartment and is quick to release.

At the moment there is no diesel in the new Civic line up - that is coming on stream later in the year and so is a high performance Type R - but the new turbo engines are eye openers.

Forget the small capacities, it's the power that counts and the Civic has all the clout that's needed to make the cut in this day and age.

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