New Honda Civic

superb to drive

Honda Civic, 2017, front, static
Honda Civic, 2017, front
Honda Civic, 2017, front, action
Honda Civic, 2017, rear, static
Honda Civic, 2017, rear, action
Honda Civic, 2017, interior
Honda Civic, 2017, boot, underfloor
Honda Civic, 2017, boot
Honda Civic, interior

THE latest Honda Civic goes straight to the top of the medium hatch class as far as I'm concerned.

It still sports those outrageous, shark-like lines that really make it stand out from the crowd, but it gets top marks because of its combination of superb performance, ease of driving, safe and exhilarating handling and good comfort.

Others might laud the Ford Focus and the VW Golf - and they are both great cars - but the new Civic edges past them to take top spot.

It's a car that feels like an extension of the driver's thought, reacting to inputs uncannily fast.

I was forced to take to a thankfully fairly flat grass verge on one country lane, when a Maserati came hurtling around a bend towards me.

Luckily there was no damage to the Honda and I continued on my lovely evening's drive.

The new Civic's 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine is hugely willing and responsive, free revving and tuneful and it boasts only slightly less power than the manic 2.0-litre in the original Civic Type R.

But of course, it's much more civilised and engine noise is well subdued until the revs are pushed upwards.

It will happily pull away from tickover speeds in all six gears and is accelerating well very soon after that.

From there on up the wide rev range the urge just builds and builds. There's no need to take it anywhere near the red line for tremendous, shove in the back acceleration, making overtaking, or losing a tailgater, simply a matter of planting the right foot.

This car is joy on a stick for anyone who loves driving, with the slickest of gearchanges, a light clutch and absolutely stupendous brakes.

The accolades don't stop there, because it also takes the corners like a hot hatch, with very little roll and an almost unbelievable level of grip.

The handling is very safe with the best neutral balance and the power steering is also brilliant, direct, positive and responsive at every turn.

Although rough surfaces in town are quite noticeable, above 30 miles an hour, the level of comfort is good even on some very poor surfaces.

Excellent front seats are comfortable and supportive in every situation and the digital dashboard works very well indeed.

Standard equipment in the Turbo Sport I drove includes sat nav, stability control, alarm, cruise control, alloys, parking sensors and a camera, climate control, loads of airbags and Bluetooth.

FAST FACTS

Price: £22,540

Mechanical: 182bhp, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 130mph

0-62mph: 8.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 48.7

Insurance Group: 22

C02 emissions: 133g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 3yrs/90,000 miles

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