WHILE many car makers prefer evolution rather than revolution when updating popular models, Honda's approach with its stalwart Civic has been quite the opposite in recent times.
When the eighth generation model was unveiled in 2005 its wedgy profile, geometric lines and triangular exhaust pipes polarised opinions somewhat.
Although some of the sharp edges were subsequently smoothed out for the next iteration, the Japanese brand was at it again when the tenth generation model hit the roads earlier this year.
Totally reworked from the ground up, the UK-built family hatchback got yet another bold, new style, this time dialling up the muscularity.
Wider, longer, and lower than any of its predecessors the latest Civic is the most aggressive and dynamic looking to date, as well as the most aerodynamic, with imposing decorative air intakes front and rear; bulging wheel arches; and not one, but two rear spoilers.
Underpinning this sporty and distinctive design is a lighter, more rigid bodyshell and sophisticated new suspension which combine to make it a more enjoyable and engaging car to drive - and a more comfortable one to ride in.
Handling is sharp and nimble and the levels of grip inspire confidence, while the quick and direct steering is well weighted and responsive.
The low-slung seating position will also appeal to enthusiastic drivers, with the re-worked ‘cockpit' laid out to put all major controls and the touchscreen interface within easy reach.
Power currently comes from a choice of 1.0 and 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engines, the latter available exclusively with higher grade Sport and Prestige models. If you want a diesel you'll have to wait until March next year (2018) when a comprehensively revised 120ps 1.6-litre option will join the range.
I drove the 1.0-litre version, which is a three-cylinder unit kicking out 129ps and proves a perky all-rounder, offering similar low-end pull to a diesel, decent economy at a claimed 55.4 miles per gallon and, although typically vocal under acceleration, is otherwise pleasantly refined.
The 1.5-litre version obviously offers better outright pace but the smaller unit never feels underpowered.
Some compromises have been made in practicality to accommodate the eye-catching new looks of the Civic.
The innovative ‘Magic Seats' that featured in the rear of the previous car - which flipped up cinema-style to create a large load space - have gone and the swooping coupe-style roofline means that six-footers risk getting a cricked neck sitting in the back.
That said, though, this is still a very roomy and versatile family hatchback. There is plenty of legroom in the rear, where the car's extra width also means that three adults can sit in much more comfort than is afforded by many rivals.
The boot, at 478 litres, is also one of the largest in class and features a generous hidden compartment under the floor. Load capacity in the SR trim car I drove rises to 1,267 litres with the 60/40 rear seats folded down.
The innovative tonneau cover is also a highlight, spooling from side to side instead of the usual front to rear, making it much more compact and easy to stow when not in use.
Interior quality befits Honda's efforts of late to move upmarket, with plenty of soft-touch surfaces and a well-made feel to everything as well as good personal storage space.
Equipment levels are also generous and it is particularly noteworthy that an enhanced suite of safety features - including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist - is standard across the range.
Other standard kit on mid-level SR trim includes alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, satnav, seven-inch touchscreen interface and digital radio.