Diesel adds to Civic

functions

Honda Civic i-DTEC, 2018, front, action
Honda Civic i-DTEC, 2018, nose
Honda Civic i-DTEC, 2018, interior
Honda Civic i-DTEC, 2018, rear, action
Honda Civic i-DTEC, 2018, side, action
Honda Civic i-DTEC, 2018, engine

DIESEL engines might not be the flavour of the month at the moment but don't write them off yet.

Certainly Honda hasn't as the Japanese car maker has just launched the latest addition to its Civic range - and it's powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine.

The all-new Civic was revealed around this time last year but models have only been available to date with a choice of either 1.0-litre or 1.5-litre petrol engines.

Honda obviously included the diesel model in its long term planning and could have pulled the plug on the venture in the light of falling diesel sales but chose not to.

Instead it's gone to great lengths to ensure the new engine is even cleaner and more economical than had first been anticipated.

The result is a quiet, punchy car which will average more than 80 miles per gallon and appeal to a lot of Civic enthusiasts - both private motorists and fleet buyers.

Despite the super frugal fuel figures the new Civic diesel has emissions of just 93g/km - low enough to appease environmentalists while also ensuring buyers keep their road tax bills low.

Its low emissions are partly due to a clever development of the car's storage catalyst which now uses just silver instead of numerous precious metals to improve its effectiveness.

The new 1.6 i-DTEC model starts from £20,120 for the S grade model rising to £24,925 for the top spec EX.

For that you get a car which has a top speed of 125 miles per hour and will hit 62 miles per hour in a very respectable 9.8 seconds.

On the road it's positive, flows around corners at high speed with ease and best of all is forgiving when a bend suddenly tightens on you.

Noise levels are impressively low but I did find the six speed manual gearbox on the car I drove very notchy, unlike on petrol versions. And on the subject of gearboxes there will be nine-speed automatic transmission model available later in the year .

During a fairly brief period behind the wheel at the car‘s launch in Rome, however, the new diesel version proved worthy addition to the Civic range.

The torquey new engine - a heavily revised version of the impressive 1.6-litre engine currently used in the CR-V and HR-V - is brilliantly flexible in heavy traffic making for more relaxed driving.

While the 1.0-litre petrol Civic is an enjoyable drive you do have to wind up the three-cylinder engine to get the best out of it. The new diesel model, on the other hand, requires far less gear changes even in busy cities so for many motorists could be the preferred choice.

The interior of the new diesel mirrors the current petrol models, which means plenty of head and shoulder room and exceptionally good leg room for rear seat passengers to stretch out.

Luggage space is generous too, with some 414 litres available with the seatbacks upright and 1,245 litres with them folded down. An innovative new type of luggage-hiding roller blind cover which retracts sideways to alleviate the need for a cumbersome support bar is a clever feature of the car.

Honda anticipates that corporate customers for the diesel Civic will outnumber private buyers by around two to one but insists diesel will still be a major force in the immediate future.

It says it's expected that by 2021 some 31per cent of all car sales will still be diesel.

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