WHEN petrolheads talk about engines, you can be sure V8s, V12s or maybe even V6s are mentioned.
However, in these days of ‘less is more', the talk really should be about some of the very excellent three-cylinder engines which can be found.
Among them is the extremely good 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine used to power some models of the tenthgeneration Honda Civic.
It's not Type R fast or furious - it takes 11.2 seconds to make it from zero to 62mph - although, helped by a healthy dose of torque, it feels faster than that. Officially, the top-spec EX version will do 45.6mpg. I got a very close 42.8mpg. Twice, over two separate weeks.
On the last occasion, as well as some short daily commutes, it also took in a weekend away from my base in Plymouth to the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, the New Forest and Goodwood in West Sussex.
Most small capacity, three-cylinder engines can be found in compact cars but Honda's is very at home in its family hatchback - and very at home on the motorway or around town. It's an absolute peach, especially when, as in this case, matched to a slick six-speed manual gearbox.
The Civic has been at the heart of the brand's sales and manufacturing in Europe for 40 years and the latest model is the strongest yet setting new benchmarks in terms of performance, fuel efficiency, spaciousness, safety and interior quality thanks to new thinking and new approaches to body construction, vehicle aerodynamics and chassis design.
A marriage of very distinctive design, sporty styling and versatile practicality with a renewed focus on rewarding driving, it is a real winner.
Wider, longer and lower than its predecessors, it has short overhangs and taut lines. A sharp and aggressive ‘face', pronounced wheel-arches, sculpted front and rear intakes, and an aggressive sloping roofline hint at the Civic's sporting character.
A much lower driving position also adds to the sporting feel and the driver's seat is not only comfortable but highly adjustable.
Handling is excellent, steering is responsive, and the drive on twisting B-roads is engaging as you work the gears and enjoy the revving of the three-pot engine. On motorways, it's quiet when cruising and very comfortable - just what you want from the family hatchback.
As a family hatchback, the new Civic is also very safe. It comes complete with six airbags, including side airbags, and Honda Sensing as standard. This is a suite of active safety and driver assist technologies that uses a combination of radar and camera information, plus a host of hi-tech sensors to warn and assist the driver in potentially dangerous situations.
The new wider, longer platform does bring class-leading interior space and the new interior features a simple, uncluttered layout. At the top of the centre console sits the seven-inch second generation Honda Connect colour touchscreen display, which as well as being a touchcontrol device for the infotainment and climate control functions, integrates with reversing cameras on the top grades. It's also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
In front of the driver, there's a completely new digital instrument display that is easy to use and understand.
The range-topping EX also comes with heated front seats, panoramic sunroof, 11-speaker audio, dual-zone climate control, leather interior, privacy class, auto wipers and power folding door mirrors.